Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: This is Christmas, This is Christmas, This is Christmastime

Way back in 1922 Rev. Bates G. Burt started a wonderful Christmas tradition. He began writing annual Christmas carols, the words and the music. The whole shootin’ match. Burt did so to send as Christmas cards to his parishioners in Marquette, Michigan, and again when he moved on to Pontiac, Michigan. Nineteen of his carols were published.

The task was then passed on to Bates’ son Alfred in 1942. While the Rev. Burt was a self-taught musician hos son was a jazz trumpeter with music degree from the University of Michigan. Alfred Burt wrote and composed 15 carols until his death in 1954. He was only 33. The carols he  published:

1. Christmas Cometh Caroling (1942)
2. Jesu Parvule (1943)
3. What Are the Signs (1944)
4. Ah, Bleak and Chill the Wintry Wind (1945)
5. All on A Christmas Morning (1946)
6. Nigh Bethlehem (1947)
7. Christ in the Stranger’s Guise (1948)
8. Carol of the Mother (Sleep Baby Mine) (1949)
9. Bright Bright the Holly Berries (This Is Christmas) (1950)
10. Some Children See Him (1951)
11. Come, Dear Children (1952)
12. O, Hearken Ye (1953)
13. Caroling Caroling (1954)
14. We’ll Dress the House (1954)
15. The Star Carol (1954)

Note #9. Maybe you’ve heard it, are familiar with it. But you definitely didn’t discover it on your FM radio this season.

The following vocal quartet from Los Angeles released a holiday album in 1972. That’s 47 years ago. And you never hear this or them on the radio. Forgotten Oldie? You bet.

The Singers Unlimited were formed in 1971 by Gene Puerling who earlier sang bass-baritone with the Hi-Lo’s in the early 1950’s. The popular group made recordings, performed in concert, and appeared on TV shows hosted by Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, and Nat King Cole.

Puerling was born in Milwaukee in 1929 and worked as radio disc jockey here until moving to Los Angeles where the Hi-Lo’s got their start. Rock and roll would eventually put an end to their career.

After experimenting with multi-track recording and over-dubbing of voices, Puerling became part of Singers Unlimited and more than a dozen albums.

Puerling (above, far right) was nominated for 14 Grammy Awards and won in 1982 for his arrangement of “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” for Manhattan Transfer. He died in 2008 at the age of 78.


Here’s a different take from one of my favorites, Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band.

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