Poster Composer Abbie Betinis
Composer Abbie Betinis
Courtesy of the artist
Choral Stream

Abbie Betinis premieres new Christmas carol for 2017, 'Touch Hands'

Abbie Betinis: Touch Hands

Ah friends, dear friends,
As years go on,
How fast the guests do go!
Touch hands, touch hands
With those that stay.
Strong hands to weak,
For who may say if ever this day
May come to us again.

The false, forget; the foe, forgive;
For every fire burns low,
Touch hands, touch hands
With those that stay.
Strong hands to weak,
For who may say if ever this day
May come to us again.

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' 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 Betinis picked up the tradition by writing a new carol every year, and for the past 17 years, she has premiered them on Classical Minnesota Public Radio.

"Touch Hands" is a carol, and a grace. By intertwining the texts as two overlapping rounds, Abbie Betinis creates a musical metaphor for the holidays; a reminder that our celebration depends on our connection with others.

Thanks to the 2017 MPR Carolers for bringing the music to life: Carrie Henneman Shaw, Laura Betinis Healy, Abbie Betinis, Nicholas Chalmers and Timothy Takach.

A Burt family carol sing.
A Burt family carol sing.
Courtesy of Abbie Betinis

Touch Hands (a table grace)

Music by Abbie Burt Betinis (2017), text from W.H.H. Murray (1897)

Ah, friends, dear friends,
as years go on
how fast the guests will go!

Touch hands, touch hands,
with those that stay.
Strong hands to weak,
old hands to young,
for who may say if ever this day
may come to us again.

The false, forget.
The foe, forgive,
for every fire burns low!

(Refrain)

Touch hands, dear friends,
Touch hands.

— W.H.H. Murray (from "Christmas in the Adirondacks"), ed. and adapted Abbie Betinis.

Grace
For health and strength
And daily bread
We give thee thanks, O Lord.
— Music & lyrics anon. (Dutch). Public domain.

Resources

Abbie Betinis, composer (official site)
Previous Betinis world premieres (Classical MPR)

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