The sun is shining, the grass is green,
The orange and palm trees sway.
There’s never been such a day
In Beverly Hills, L.A.
But it’s December twenty-fourth
And I am longing to be up north.
Recognize those lines? You probably don’t.
That is the first verse Irving Berlin wrote for White Christmas, but Bing Crosby and countless others almost always start with the familiar, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.”
We’re starting to hear more and more Christmas songs on the radio, and I decided to check into the background, the circumstances, if you will, of the songs themselves.
Speaking of orange and palm trees swaying, Mel Torme was one of the writers – as well as singer – of The Christmas Song. That’s the one that starts off, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.”
What I’ve always found kind of strange is that a song which evokes so many memories of a Christmas with probably a bit of a chill in the air, was written during a California summer. That takes some effort, calling up those images of December when you’re baking in the California sun.
One Christmas song which was definitely not written during a California summer is Silent Night. It was written on a Christmas Eve in Germany, written on short notice because the church needed a song written for guitar for the mass on Christmas morning. The church organ had broken, and none of the traditional hymns could be used.
I remember hymn books at St. Mary’s which had the song in at least three different languages – English, German and French – and I fuzzily recall one Christmas where we sang three verses, each in a different language.
We Three Kings of Orient Are always reminds me of one of my favourite Christmas trivia questions: How many kings are spoken of in the Bible?
No specific number, you may be surprised to learn (or not). It basically says there came wise men from the East, so they may not have even been kings.
What is does mention is they brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, which led to the belief there were three kings, each with one gift.
As any bride-to-be who ended up with six blenders after her bridal shower can tell you, the number of different gifts doesn’t always equal the number of people bearing gifts.