An oldie from the 1980 television special “John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together” comes this version of “Silent Night.”
It is one of our favorite versions of the song not only because of the simplicity of the music and vocals (which make it easy to sing along with) but also we love the history of the song as told by John Denver.
Nothing like a bunch of college kids putting their time and faith into action.
Bringing the joy of Advent and the promise of Christmas into the marketplace, some 150 Thomas Aquinas College students descended on Ventura’s Pacific View Mall on the first Saturday of December to stage a choral “flash mob.”
After stealthily gathering around the mall’s Christmas central lobby — by the Santa Claus photo center — the students simultaneously burst into song. They began with “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “O Come, All ye Faithful,” and then concluded with a rousing rendition of “Go Tell it on the Mountain.” The mall’s surprised customers and employees seemed to delight in the performance, stopping whatever they were doing to take in the music, to sing along, and to cheer afterward.
Organized by sophomore Giorgio Navarini, the yuletide event is fast becoming a regular College tradition. Last year’s inaugural “mob” was so widely and well received — generating nearly 50,000 views and coverage from EWTN’s World Over — that students were especially enthusiastic about doing it again, preparing in their spare time for weeks in advance.
Improv Everywhere is a New York City-based prank collective that causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places. Created in August of 2001 by Charlie Todd, Improv Everywhere has executed over 100 missions involving tens of thousands of undercover agents.
This year, the group decided to go Christmas caroling, but ramped things up a bit.
My original idea was to stage this guerrilla style, actually showing up at random houses, ringing the doorbell, and seeing what happens. Practically there were several reasons why this wasn’t the best way to produce this, even it was the most fun version. What if no one was home? What if the family doesn’t celebrate Christmas? There were just too many variables to be able to go up to a random house, especially when you’re going to all the trouble to transport a 39-person cast to New Jersey.
So we came up with a solution: we rented a house and then invited families into the home under the guise of getting a family photo taken. We reached out to our NYC-area email list looking for families in the Bergen County, NJ area who were up for a surprise. In all we surprised five families over the course of the evening. The moms acted as our accomplice– they were the only ones in the family who knew that something was going to happen, but they didn’t know what. They kept the secret from their husband and kids. Once the families arrived for the photo, a producer told them to wait their turn in the living room and to please answer the door if the doorbell rings as we were expecting more families soon.
Sounds like the group and the families had a good time.
There has been a lot of buzz concerning the Pentatonix version of the song “Mary Did You Know?” this holiday season, but for us, we are going for the more simply produced and beautiful voice of Kathy Mattea.
As one reader said, “the Pentatonix version is beautiful, but you get caught up in who’s singing what parts instead of the lyrics, which is what makes the song great.
A couple of interesting trivia facts include Reynolds’ singing voice being dubbed using the voice of Martha Mears. In addition, the set for Holiday Inn was used again in the making of the film White Christmas. Finally, the song won an Academy Award for “Best Song.” In a twist of fate, the Oscar for the category was presented by Irving Berlin who had actually written the song White Christmas. Berlin became the first presenter to present an Academy Award to himself.
The first public performance of the song was by Bing Crosby, on his NBC radio show The Kraft Music Hall on Christmas Day, 1941; a copy of the recording from the radio program is owned by the estate of Bing Crosby and was loaned to CBS Sunday Morning for their December 25, 2011, program. He subsequently recorded the song with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers for Decca Records in just 18 minutes on May 29, 1942, and it was released on July 30 as part of an album of six 78-rpm songs from the film Holiday Inn. At first, Crosby did not see anything special about the song. He just said “I don’t think we have any problems with that one, Irving.”
The song initially performed poorly and was overshadowed by Holiday Inn’s first hit song: “Be Careful, It’s My Heart”. By the end of October 1942, “White Christmas” topped the “Your Hit Parade” chart. It remained in that position until well into the new year. It has often been noted that the mix of melancholy — “just like the ones I used to know” — with comforting images of home — “where the treetops glisten” — resonated especially strongly with listeners during World War II. The Armed Forces Network was flooded with requests for the song. The recording is noted for Crosby’s whistling during the second Chorus