“O Holy Night” (also known as “Cantique de Noël”) is a well-known Christmas carol.
Back in 1843, in a small French town, Roquemaure, a man named Placide Cappeau was known more for his talent at writing poetry. A priest asked him to write a poem for Christmas Mass. He took his request seriously. Placide Cappeau began thinking about the birth of Jesus. With that inspiration, he wrote “Cantique de Noel.”
Placide was so pleased with how the poem came out that he decided it needed to be a song. Since he was a poet but not a musician, he turned to a friend, Adolphe Charles Adams, to see if he would set his poem to music. Adolphe was a famous classical musician who had composed many works all around the world, but he agreed to come up with music for his friend’s poem.
In 1843 or 1847, according to two different sources, he composed music to go with the beautiful words, and the song was performed a few weeks later at a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
The song was premiered in Roquemaure in 1847 by the opera singer, Emily Laurey.
In 1855, an American writer, John Sullivan Dwight, saw something in the song that moved him beyond the story of the birth of Christ. An abolitionist, Dwight strongly identified with the lines of the third verse: “Truly he taught us to love one another; his law is love and his gospel is peace. Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother; and in his name, all oppression shall cease.” This verse mirrored Dwight’s view of slavery in the South. He published his English translation of “O Holy Night” in his magazine, and the song quickly found favor in America, especially in the North, during the Civil War.
~ ~ ~
Our church performed the Christmas Concert one year. “O Holy Night” was one of the songs at the concert. I was privileged to sing this piece. As part of the concert, I sang the first verse of the song. A friend sent me the mp3 of the music and I made it into a video.
I want to thank Robbie Cheadle, who inspired me to make this video. When I posted the information about my Messiah performance last year, she mentioned she would like to hear me sing.
I also want to thank Diane Wallace Peach, who created the trailer for my poetry book, Song of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude. She inspired me to use PowerPoint to create to presentation and insert the music to create this video.
This week, the theme from Sheetalbravon is ‘A Glimpse into your world’. She invited us toshow the things we love that make our world spin or things about our world that make us delirious with joy.
The immediate world that fills me with inspiration and amazement is my garden. My morning routine, especially in the summer, is to visit the garden while I drink my coffee. After coffee, with the gardening tools in hand, I check the flower bushes, trim the dead branches, or dig up weeds.
I started feeding birds from 2014 and the regular visitors are Ruby Throat Hummingbirds, mourning doves, American Finch, American God Finch, Scrub Jay, Song Sparrow, White-Crowned Sparrow, and a few I couldn’t quite identify. Over the years, there were baby Mourning Dove, baby House Finches, and One baby Hummingbird born in my garden.
There are other animals such as squirrels, stray cats, and lizards roaming during the day or at night.
I have many hobbies, more than I have time to fully enjoy each of them. Not included in the images here is photography, which I started as a teenager when the photos were black and white. Another hobby is ceramic. I did the whale free hand with clay. I made it into a nightlight for my baby daughter. When my daughter was nine years old, we took a ceramic painting class together in the summer. It’s something we continue doing separately until these days.
I learned to draw and watercolor painting as a young adult. After retirement, I took classes on both and used some watercolor painting to illustrate the poems in my book.
My immediate community of 35 years is a church fellowship and the group of ladies. They are a part of my world for fun, for friendship and support. Some of these friends’ kids and my daughter grew up together. The ladies gave a bridal shower to Mercy for her wedding. Some friends still send gifts to my granddaughters as their own.
Music has been my world since I was a kid. I didn’t have a family background to nurture my love of classical music. It seems to be a natural favorite. The first time I performed Handel’s Messiah was when I was still in Hong Kong.
Most of my family except for one sister are in Hong Kong. Lynton’s family is my extended family, and we see each other regularly.
The biggest world to me is my daughter’s family. My granddaughters lighten my heart and give joy every day. My daughter has a TinyBeans.com account where she posts multiple photos and videos daily to chronicle the kids’ growth and family activities. There was not one day I go without checking on what they do. Nora’s birthday on March 22, and I wish to visit them.
Thank you for reading. I hope to hear what the things you love that make your world spin or things about your world that make you delirious with joy.
The film version of The Sound of Music was released in 1965. When it was showing in Hong Kong, my childhood best friend who currently lives in London, saw it seven times.
When my daughter was in the second grade, she participated in the children’s theater and played the goat in The Sound of Music. I still have the costume made for her performance.
Fast forward to 2013 when Lynton and I took a trip to Austria, we went to Salzburg and Vienna. My daughter did her summer study in Salzburg and visited the movie site. Although it was not part of our itinerary to visit the movie site, the tour bus passed by the Von Trapp family home and I took a photo from distance.
When Christopher Plummer died yesterday, it brought back a lot of memories.
The story of Christopher Plummer
The prolific and versatile Canadian-born actor, Christopher Plummer, who rose to celebrity as the romantic lead in perhaps the most popular movie musical of all time, won an Oscar, two Tonys and two Emmys. His performance as Captain von Trapp in one of the most popular movies propelled a steady half-century parade of television and film roles.
He died on Friday, February 5 at his home in Weston, Conn. He was 91. His wife, Elaine Taylor, said the cause was a blow to the head as a result of a fall.
The Sound of Music
The Sound of Music is a 1965 American musical drama film produced and directed by Robert Wise and starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, an adaptation of the 1959 stage musical of the same name, composed by Richard Rodgers with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.
The musical and the movie was generally based on the first section of Maria’s book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers published in 1949. There was interest from various quarters in buying the film rights. In 1955, the von Trapp family was strapped for money and Maria sold the rights to German movie producer Wolfgang Reinhardt for a flat $9,000.
She and her family would see no royalties from the two subsequent German films based on the von Trapp family’s adventures, or from the Broadway production of The Sound of Music, which ran for over three years, or from the film version, which has grossed around $300 million.
The Sound of Music – Edelweiss (Reprise)
The Story of the von Trapp Family
Georg von Trapp, born in 1880, became a national hero as a captain in the Austrian navy during World War I. Georg von Trapp, born in 1880, became a national hero as a captain in the Austrian navy during World War I. They had seven children together. After World War I, Austria lost all of its seaports, and Georg retired from the navy. His wife died in 1922 of scarlet fever. Her death devastated the family and unable to bear living in a place where they had been so happy, Georg sold his property in Pola (now Pula, Croatia) and bought an estate in Salzburg.
Maria Augusta Kutschera was born in Vienna, Austria. She attended the State Teachers’ College of Progressive Education in Vienna. Soon after Maria graduated from college, and because of her religious awakening, she entered the Benedictine Abbey of Nonnberg in Salzburg as a novice. When Georg von Trapp approached the Reverend Mother of the Abbey seeking a teacher for his sick daughter, Maria was chosen. Maria tutored young Maria and developed a caring and loving relationship with all the children. She enjoyed singing with them and getting them involved in outdoor activities. During this time, Georg fell in love with Maria and asked her to stay with him and become a second mother to his children. Of his proposal, Maria said, “God must have made him word it that way because if he had only asked me to marry him. I might not have said yes.” Maria Kutschera and Georg von Trapp married in 1927. They had three children together.
The family lost most of its wealth through the worldwide depression when their bank failed in the early 1930s. Maria tightened belts all around by dismissing most of the servants and taking in boarders. It was around this time that they began considering making the family hobby of singing into a profession. As depicted in The Sound of Music, the family won first place in the Salzburg Music Festival in 1936 and became successful, singing Renaissance and Baroque music, madrigals, and folk songs all across Europe.
When the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938, the von Trapps realized they were on thin ice with a regime they abhorred. Georg not only refused to fly the Nazi flag on their house, but he also declined a naval command and a request to sing at Hitler’s birthday party. They also realized the Nazis’ anti-religious propaganda and policies, the pervasive fear that those around them could act as spies for the Nazis, and the brainwashing of children against their parents. They weighed staying in Austria and taking advantage of the enticements the Nazis were offering against leaving behind everything they knew. They decided they could not compromise their principles and left.
The family did not secretly escape over the Alps to freedom in Switzerland, carrying their suitcases and musical instruments. They left by train in June, pretending nothing, and traveled with their musical conductor to Italy, not Switzerland, later to London. By September, they were on a ship to New York to begin a concert tour in Pennsylvania. In the early 1940s the family settled in Stowe, Vermont, where they bought a farm. They ran a music camp on the property when they were not on tour.
Georg died in 1947 and was buried in the family cemetery on the property.
This week, as we are approaching the end of 2020, Amy invited us to share some of the precious moments we have had, before or during the pandemic.
I love travel. I know I won’t return to many places I had been and always treasure the experiences of being there and seeing those places. Yet if I must choose between travel and spend time with family and friends, I choose the latter. It is the relationship that makes the moments precious.
Our family photo which was taken in 2006. One young girl on the left got married a few years ago and now has a baby daughter. The other one on the left just got married last month. The three little ones are in college. Lynton’s dad, second from the right, died 12 years ago.
Eight years ago, we took our family trip to China and stopped by Hong Kong to see my family. Seven of us were in the middle of this photo, with my siblings and their families on the left and right sides. Will’s mom (behind Will, in green) died three years after the trip. My sister, third from right, died last year when we were in Hong Kong for my nephew’s wedding.
This is a group of my lovely lady friends celebrating Christmas in 2019. We missed each other tremendously.
“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” — Elisabeth Foley
Many of my friends and I were in this chorale last year singing in the annual performance of Messiah. The past weekend would have been the usual schedule for the performance. It didn’t happen this year.
“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” – George Moore
This precious photo was taken with my daughter Mercy and granddaughter Autumn last year. We cancelled our trip this year because the Covid cases were worse than when it started.
This week I present another of my favorite Christmas music/dance/movie
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, October 1954
Having left the Army following W.W.II, Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) team up to become a top song-and-dance act. Davis plays matchmaker and introduces Wallace to a pair of beautiful sisters (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy Haynes (Vera-Ellen) who also have a song-and-dance act. When Betty and Judy travel to a Vermont lodge to perform a Christmas show, Wallace and Davis follow, only to find their former commander, General Waverly, as the lodge owner, who, they learn, is having financial difficulties; his quaint country inn is failing. So, what’s the foursome to do but plan a yuletide miracle: a fun-filled musical extravaganza that’s sure to put Waverly and his business in the black!
The Story Behind “White Christmas”
The White Christmas first aired during the Kraft Music Hall radio show December 25, 1941. Then-host, Bing Crosby, crooned the carol which is special at the time. Pearl Harbor had been attacked just a few weeks before.
It turns out, the song has a sad back story too. It was written by Irving Berlin, a Russian-born immigrant who did not celebrate Christmas, as he was Jewish.
Berlin’s three-week-old son had died on Christmas day in 1928, so every year on December 25, he and his wife visited their baby’s grave.
He wrote “White Christmas” for a musical that eventually morphed into the movie Holiday Inn and ended up winning an Academy Award for the song. In 1954, it became the title track of another Bing Crosby Christmas musical, White Christmas.
Crosby’s rendition quickly became an American favorite. It was constantly requested by troops during Bing’s USO appearances overseas, which gave the singer some mixed feelings. He didn’t want to come that far to make them sad. For this reason, several times he tried to cut it out of the show, but these guys just hollered for it. Clearly, they identified with the wistful lyrics about holidays at home. Since then, “White Christmas” has been an all-time favorite.