Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Another Christmas Song Born in the Sorrow of War

Yesterday I wrote about "I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day" and how sprouted from the pain and sorrow of the American Civil War. I recently found that another Christmas song has its origins in the horrors of war. 

White Christmas stands apart from most all other Christmas songs in several ways: it's not upbeat and joyful, in fact it's melancholy and sad. There's no fanciful characters like Santa Claus or elves or reindeer, and it's not religious in any way.

White Christmas was first heard on the radio on Christmas Day, 1941 sung by Bing Crosby, on his NBC radio show The Kraft Music Hall. Everyone loves the idea of a White Christmas, but an actual white Christmas is a rare thing even in my hometown of Buffalo NY (Really! It's normally cold and rainy in the first few weeks of winter up there). But the concept of a Christmas morning covered with new fallen snow is a warm and comforting thought - like a Thomas Kinkade painting it's an idealized vision that brings smiles even to snowbirds in Miami.

Eighteen days before that broadcast aired the United States was attacked and suddenly found itself involved in a world conflict on multiple fronts. our future was in turmoil and an idealized reminiscence of Christmas was in order. When Bing Crosby toured overseas to perform for the troops, White Christmas was always the most requested song, but Crosby didn't want to sing it for them. Crosby said in an interview:
I hesitated about doing it because invariably it caused such a nostalgic yearning among the men, that it made them sad... Heaven knows, I didn’t come that far to make them sad. For this reason, several times I tried to cut it out of the show, but these guys just hollered for it.
After 74 years White Christmas is still the best selling Christmas song of all time, which is interesting because the author, Irving Berlin, didn't celebrate Christmas. He was a Jewish immigrant from Russia. Christmas was a very sad and solemn day for him.  While many American families opened gifts around the Christmas tree, Berlin had his own a tradition. Every year he visited the grave of his son who died on Christmas Day, 1928, at only three weeks old.

For Irving Berlin - who also wrote Alexander’s Ragtime Band and God Bless America - White Christmas was an unexpected hit. It was a simple song: just 54 words and 67 notes. It was written for a musical revue about the holidays that eventually became the movie “Holiday Inn.” Berlin thought a different song from that film would become popular. He had expected 'Be Careful It’s My Heart' written for Valentine’s Day  to become the most popular, and for a while it was but in 1942 Bing Crosby released White Christmas as a record and Be Careful It's My Heart was nearly forgotten. But “White Christmas” was the song that won Berlin an Academy Award.

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