World Premiere: Abbie Betinis's Christmas Carol for 2016

Composer Abbie Betinissubmitted photo


'Sing Him to Sleep' (Music and lyrics by Abbie Burt Betinis)

11:37


December 19, 2016

Oh how we love to sing:
     "Rock-a-bye my Baby!"
While in our arms he warns:
   "Wake, awake!
     Beware the gold-eyed,
     hollow and cold-eyed!
     Watch for the thief with
     silver tongue!"
   Still in our bliss, we just
   Blow Him a kiss.
     So now we can sing Him,
     Sing Him to sleep.

With those words, we welcome composer Abbie Betinis back to Classical MPR for the world premiere of her annual Christmas Carol.

Betinis continues a family tradition begun in 1922 by her great-grandfather, Bates Burt, then continued by Betinis's great-uncle, Alfred Burt. Some of Alfred Burt's carols, such as "Caroling, Caroling" and "The Star Carol" became part of the standard Christmas repertoire.

Abbie picked up the tradition by writing a new carol every year, and for the past 15 years, she has premiered them on Classical Minnesota Public Radio.

"Sing Him to Sleep" is a lullaby for the baby Jesus, but it's also a cautionary message to stay awake to the dangers that lay in wait, threatening those things we hold most dear. This year, Abbie also brought a carol by Alfred Burt: "All on a Christmas Morning."

Thanks to the MPR Carolers for bringing the music to life: Carrie Henneman Shaw, soprano; Laura Betinis Healy, mezzo; Nicholas Chalmers, tenor; Timothy C. Takach, bass; and Tim O'Keefe, hand percussion.


Sing Him to Sleep (Music and lyrics by Abbie Burt Betinis)

What's in this Baby's cry?
   Only the crying of nations.
What's in this Baby's birth?
   Only our own.
How shall the earth reply?
   Praise and adulation.
How shall we make Him known?
   Sing Him to sleep.

   Lullay, lullay, lullay, lullay, lullay,
   Close your eyes.
   Lullay, lullay, lullay, lullay, lullay,
   …and still He cries.

Don't make a sound, my Babe,
   "Hush, hush my dear one!"
Yet from the hay He cries:
   "Wake, awake!
   Make room for the lost, the
   weary unwashed, the
   hungry and sick, for they
   know me well!
   Bring in the sore ones, and
   Bring in the poor ones!"
There's not enough incense to
sweeten the smell.

   Lullay, lullay, lullay, lullay, lullay,
   Close your eyes.
   Lullay, lullay, lullay, lullay, lullay,
   …and still He cries.

Oh how we love to sing:
   "Rock-a-bye my Baby!"
While in our arms he warns:
   "Wake, awake!
   Beware the gold-eyed,
   hollow and cold-eyed!
   Watch for the thief with
   silver tongue!"
Still in our bliss, we just
Blow Him a kiss.
   So now we can sing Him,
   Sing Him to sleep.

   Lullay, lullay, lullay, lullay, lullay,
   Close your eyes.
   Lullay, lullay, lullay, lullay, lullay,
   …and still He cries.

We cannot hear His cries,
   Even in crying of nations,
When He so humble lies,
   Mild and meek.
Shake off your dust, rise up!
   Rise up ye civilizations!
Don't let us sing Him…

   Lullay, lullay, lullay, lullay, lullay,

   …sing Him to sleep.

© Abbie Betinis, 2016.

Resources

Abbie Betinis, composer - official site