Carol

It’s not one of the Christmas carols or hymns we are likely to hear in our churches during this holiday season, but it’s one we need to hear in a year when brotherhood has taken a beating throughout the world.

There are thousands of paintings and other depictions of Jesus, the most ubiquitous—probably—being those of Warner Sallman, particularly his “Head of Christ,” which has been reproduced a half-billion times, some say.  But Jesus probably didn’t look much like the pretty Aryan Jesus made famous by Sallman. And how he really looked is immaterial anyway.  It’s how we see him.

And that brings to Alfred Burt and his wonderful Christmas carol, “Some See Him…”

Alfred Burt was the son of an Episcopal minister in Michigan who began in 1922 the custom of sending special Christmas cards to parishioners that included the words and music for a new Christmas Carol the Reverend Bates Burt had composed. After Alfred graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in music in 1942, “Dad” Burt suggested he take over the Christmas card custom.  Alfred’s wife, Ann, asked the organist at the Bates’ church to write the lyrics while Alfred wrote the music.

Alfred Burt and Wihla Hudson created fifteen carols before his death because of lung cancer in 1954 at the age of thirty-three.

Their 1951 composition, Some See Him is a favorite in our household and seems appropriate for this year.

Some children see Him lily white,
the baby Jesus born this night.
Some children see Him lily white,
with tresses soft and fair.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
The Lord of heav’n to earth come down.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
with dark and heavy hair.

Some children see Him almond-eyed,
this Savior whom we kneel beside.
some children see Him almond-eyed,
with skin of yellow hue.
Some children see Him dark as they,
sweet Mary’s Son to whom we pray.
Some children see him dark as they,
and, ah! they love Him, too!

The children in each different place
will see the baby Jesus’ face
like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace,
and filled with holy light.
O lay aside each earthly thing
and with thy heart as offering,
come worship now the infant King.
‘Tis love that’s born tonight!

In a world that sometimes seems pretty short on love and brotherhood, Alfred Burt’s carol seemed to us pretty important—although we aren’t aware of any service where it will be sung.

If you’d like to hear it, we recommend this performance by Santino Fontana and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v83iNif0hEw

And if you are not familiar with the Alfred Burt carols, we invite you to enjoy this first recording of them, in the year after his death, by the Columbia Choir:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXI6mjujeU8

May we see each other in the spirit of peace this season.

-0-

 

 

 

 

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