It’s Christmas Day, and for many families that means special holiday traditions – and if you’ve ever been out “caroling, caroling” you might have sung this well-known staple by American composer Alfred Burt.
Well, Alfred Burt, a jazz trumpeter from Michigan who composed 15 beloved carols, is part of a larger family tradition – begun back in the 1920s by his father, the Reverend Bates G. Burt, who – every year – composed a new Christmas carol to send in a seasonal greeting card to friends and family.
Fast forward to the 21st century, when young composer Abbie Betinis would celebrate Christmas with her grandparents in Michigan. She says, “I knew there were certain carols we’d sing – even joyful ones – that could make everyone cry... and I realized later that these were our family carols. They helped us remember the generations before and feel connected to them and to their traditions. So I thought maybe I should write one myself.”
And write she did. With composition degrees from St Olaf College and the University of Minnesota, Abbie Burt Betinis, the great-granddaughter of Reverend Burt, has now written an annual carol since 2001 – carols which have been performed the world over, each one premiering on Minnesota Public Radio – before being sent to mailboxes across America as the new Burt Family Christmas card.
Abbie’s carol we’ve been sampling here, with lyrics by Holly Windle, is from 2007, called “Run, Toboggan, Run.”
Music Played in Today's Program
Alfred Burt (1920-1954)“Caroling Caroling”MPR Carolers (Carrie Henneman Shaw; Linda Kachelmeier; Justin Karch; Eric Bartlett)Minnesota Public Radio studio recording (December 2013)
Abbie Burt Betinis (b.1980)“Run Toboggan Run”MPR Carolers (Carrie Henneman Shaw; Jenny French; Laura Krider; Abbie Betinis, Bryan Fisher; Jeff Stern; Chad Shultis; Michael Meyer)Minnesota Public Radio studio recording (December 2007)