Columbia Records created a series of albums exclusively for Good Year called Great Songs of Christmas. Growing up, we had two of them. One we enjoyed more than the other. But both were great in their own way. The favorite in our house was Album 5 which we have affectionately called "the red album" for years.
On this particular album you'll hear artists such as Andy Williams, Maurice Chevalier, Danny Kaye, Diahann Carroll and many others. To this day, my brother and sister and I will sing our version of Maurice Chevalier's version of 'Jolly Old Saint Nicholas.' I think my mom even has us on video somewhere singing it. Just imagine that voice. The ending goes like this: Now, I think I leave to you what to give the rest. Choose for me dear Santa Claus. You will know the best, oh yes you will. Now if you don't know his singing style that reference is probably lost on you. But think Christmas, in the style of Thank Heaven for Little Girls. That song always brings a smile to my face.
Also on this album was a song by Alfred S. Burt who had died "just 11 years ago" - making this album from 1965. It's 42 years old. It's older than me and I can't remember a Christmas without it. The song is called Star Carol. It was sung by Anna Maria Alberghetti and it is so beautiful.
Long years ago on a deep winter night,
High in the heav'ns a star shone bright,
While in a manger a wee baby lay,
Sweetly asleep on a bed of hay.
Jesus the Lord was that baby so small,
Laid down to sleep in a humble stall;
Then came the star and it stood overhead,
shedding its light 'round His little bed.
Dear baby Jesus, how tiny Thou art,
I'll make a place for Thee in my heart,
And when the stars in the heavens I see,
Ever and always I think of Thee.
Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme sing Sleigh Ride. There's such joy and cheer in their voices. You actually feel as if you were on sleigh ride. Andy Williams sings O Holy Night. Silver Bells by Doris Day. Silent Night by Maurice Chevalier (two verses in English and another in his native French.) Sammy Davis, Jr "recorded the song which was written especially for this album, and is heard here for the first time. "It's Christmas Time All Over the World"."
But what I think I love almost as much as the beautiful music is the album notes. Yes, there are secular songs. But the overall sense of this album was about recording music to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Shameful as it is, the last paragraph of the album notes would never be written today. Not on a "non-religious" album anyway. "And once again we are delighted to have this opportunity to wish you all the richness, the festivity, the reverence, and the warmth of the Holy Season."
If anyone is still reading, thank you for allowing me to share another memory from my childhood. I know how blessed I am to have had it. And I hope that when my children are grown and they hear Star Carol they'll think of their childhood with the same gratitude and joy that I do.