A Special Christmas Music Gift

December 19th, 2015

We all love to get into the Christmas season and set the right mood for love and merry making. This is also the right time to look for special gifts and send them to our loved ones just to let them know how much they mean to us. Just as we are reminded by the timeless hit of the Little Drummer Boy, no gift will ever be ideal for Christmas than the gift of a real Christmas classic. But unfortunately, it is a little bit of a task to locate and find such gifts and send them out during Christmas.

American Christmas Classics –  FREE SHIPPING until Christmas using Code CHR2015!

Despite the fact that it is not easy to find the perfect gift to send out during Christmas, there is not a total blockade to prevent you from thinking out of the box. It is still possible to come up with a nice sweet collection of American Christmas classics and wrap them into a gift box that will be much appreciated, especially by those folks from the Baby Boomer era. Fortunately, with a little searching, there are several places where you can find such gift collections. One such place is Christmas Classic Ltd. It produces exquisite Christmas music collections that will make perfect Christmas gifts at any time. To boot, American Christmas Classics is available at $29.95 . . . a 50% Discount from the original price of $59.95!

Included in the American Christmas Classics collection are 47 all-time favorite classic Christmas songs featuring music legends Bing Crosby, Kate Smith, Andy Williams, Gene Autry and other celebrated singers. But the collection is not only about music.

This cultural treasure includes a lavishly illustrated masterpiece book about the stories behind favorite American Christmas carols and songs featuring period fine art and illustrations from America’s great artists, such as Norman Rockwell, Henry Ossawa Tanner, and Grandma Moses, as well as images of nostalgic Victorian Christmas cards and notable magazines of yesteryear as The Saturday Evening Post, Scribner’s, and LIFE.

This Christmas collection has been described as a sumptuous and ideal gift package that will bring boundless joy this season. For customers nostalgic for their Christmas past, this is the perfect Christmas gift.

Act today for FREE SHIPPING using Code CHR2015

American Christmas Classics



Not too Late! Great Christmas Gifts for Military Families

December 19th, 2013

It’s not too late! Please RT about Christmas Classics Ltd. support of the Fisher House Foundation this Christmas season. PRESS RELEASE

A great provider of free housing and comfort for military families in need of special medical care, the reputable foundation will benefit from the sale proceeds of Christmas Classics Ltd.’s two highly acclaimed Christmas music box collections, Best-Loved Christmas Carols and American Christmas Classics.

In addition, these premier collections are being donated to thirty-three Fisher Houses located across the country.

With the purchase today of Christmas Classics prized collections, described by customers and media alike as “great gifts,” you will make this Christmas season truly memorable, not only for your family and friends, but also for many of our military families who have suffered so much and yet have asked so little.

Merry Christmas!

Ronald M. Clancy

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Christmas Music Collections to Bring Cheer to Fisher Houses

December 5th, 2013

Before the recent government shutdown occurred, author Ron Clancy of Christmas Classics Ltd. decided to support the Fisher House Foundation. A great provider of free housing and comfort for military families in need of medical care, the reputable foundation will benefit from the sale proceeds of Christmas Classics Ltd.’s two lavishly illustrated Christmas music collections (see FISHER HOUSE: How Others Are Giving).

In addition Ron has agreed to donate Best-Loved Christmas Carols and American Christmas Classics, his company’s premier boxed collections, to Fisher Houses located across the country.

To help bring special joy to Fisher House military families, Ron (@xmasmusicman) asks his Twitter followers to pass on the word about Christmas Classics Ltd. exceptional collections. The purchase of these ideal Christmas gifts for family and friends will help the Fisher House Foundation and its corollary Fisher Houses in the following ways:

1)  25% of sale proceeds will be donated to the Fisher House Foundation;

2)  Christmas Classics Ltd. exquisite boxed collections will be donated to Fisher Houses across the country.

Please act today. Buy Christmas Classics Ltd. richly illustrated Best-Loved Christmas Carols and American Christmas Classics collections for your family and friends. Your purchase will go a long way to make this Christmas a truly memorable experience for those who have served our country so well and yet ask so little.

Today’s Video: The Story behind THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY


Christmas Classics PERSON OF THE DAY: James Kimball Gannon

November 18th, 2013

On this day in 1900, James Kimball Gannon was born in Brooklyn, New York. Better known as Kim Gannon, he was an American songwriter and lyricist for the perennial Christmas favorite I’ll Be Home for Christmas.

Gannon attended St. Lawrence University and as a senior wrote the school’s alma mater song The Scarlet and the Brown. A proud graduate of St. Lawrence in 1924, he had every intention of becoming a lawyer. The Great Depression delayed that career pursuit and in 1930 he was working as a salesman for a utility company. By 1934 he passed the New York state bar examination, but five years later the songwriting bug struck and soon after he composed his first commercial song, For Tonight.

The year 1942 found Gannon writing songs during the “swing era” and for films including the lyrics of the film title song Always in My Heart that earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Song. He replicated that achievement  twice more: 1) Too Much In Love for the film Song of the Open Road in 1944,  and 2) Endlessly in 1945 for the film Earl Carroll Vanities. But in between he collaborated with Walter Kent in 1943 to produce I’ll Be Home for Christmas. Gannon also wrote songs for the films Powers Girl and If Winter Comes before Broadway beckoned in 1951 when he teamed up with Walter Kent again on the score for Seventeen.

Despite his success with film and Broadway, Gannon is best remembered for his popular and wistful Christmas lyric I’ll Be Home for Christmas. First recorded by Bing Crosby in 1943, it has since been recorded more than three hundred times and is an important part of American Christmas Classics.

The amiable Kim Gannon, who died in 1974, was always true to his alma mater. In his will he stipulated that after his wife Norma’s passing (she died in 2006), 30% of all royalty proceeds from his songs were to go to St. Lawrence University. The majority of those royalties, you can bet, come from his 39-word holiday classic I’ll Be Home for Christmas.

Kim Gannon

Kim Gannon

Christmas Classics PERSON OF THE DAY: John Troutback

November 12th, 2013

On this day in 1832, John Troutback was born in Blencowe, Cumberland, England. He was a noted English translator of famous musical texts and an Anglican priest who served as chaplain to Queen Victoria during his tenure as Minor Canon at Westminster Abbey (1869-1899). The Rev. Troutback had previously held the position of Precentor at Manchester Cathedral from 1865-1869.

For purposes of distinction in the Anglican Church, a Minor Canon is usually a junior clergy staff member of a cathedral or collegiate church who participates in daily services. A Precentor, too, is a clergy member, generally part of a large church, whose charge is to prepare and organize liturgy and worship services.

The Rev. Troutback arranged many of the royal services at Westminster Abbey, most notably the 1887 Golden Jubilee service for Queen Victoria. In addition to devoting much of his life’s energy to church music, including editing Westminster Abbey Hymn Book (1883), several chant books, and The Manchester Psalter a few years prior to his assignment to Westminster Abbey. A possessor of a very fine voice, he was also the author of Church Choir Training.

Troutback’s greatest claim to fame, however, was his English translations of German, French, and Italian operas, songs, and oratorios for the British music publisher Novello. The Who’s Who List of his translations included Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, St. John Passion, Magnificat, and Christmas Oratorio.

The Christmas Oratorio (German Weihnachts-Oratorium) by Bach was one of three oratorios written near the end of his career and his last major contribution to the Lutheran Church. It was intended to conform to the church calendar for the 1734 Christmas season and to be performed on six successive Sundays during Advent and the Christmas season at two churches – St. Thomas and St. Nicholas in Leipzig. The oratorio incorporated six cantatas from earlier Bach compositions, some of them secular in tone, which caused some Lutheran Church elders to have problems with the great composer’s discarding of some hymn texts in favor of poetical passages and the interjection of a number of chorales, choruses, and arias of a  non-Scriptural nature into the sacred work. The oratorio’s recitative and chorale settings, however, were original Bach compositions.

Bach received inspiration for his work from both the St. Luke and St. Matthew versions of the Nativity, especially since together they gave a more complete narrative of Christ’s birth. He believed the St. Luke 2:1-21 gospel had greater poetic qualities than the gospel of St. Matthew 2:1-12. However, St. Matthew’s story was particularly attractive to Bach since it recounted the tale of the Three Wise Men, leading Bach to attach greater significance to the Magi in the concluding passages of the oratorio.

The finished oratorio was broken into six parts, each to be performed on one of the major feast days of the Christmas period as follows:

            Part I:     The Birth of Jesus (Christmas Day)

            Part II:   The Annunciation to the Shepherds (December 26)

            Part III:  The Adoration of the Shepherd (December 27)

            Part IV:  The Circumcision and Naming of Jesus (New Year’s Day)

            Part V:    The Journey of the Magi (First Sunday after New Year)

            Part V:    The Adoration of the Magi (Epiphany – January 6).

Despite its original three hour length, the Rev. Troutback must have been elated to take on the task of translating Bach’s marvelous Christmas opus. In 1874 Novello published it along with Rev. Troutback’s English translation of Bach’s Magnificat.

For his distinguished service to his church, the Rev. Troutback in now buried with his wife in the East Cloister of the Westminster Abbey.

Rev. John Troutback

Rev. John Troutback



Christmas Classics PERSON OF THE DAY: William Hayman Cummings

August 30th, 2013

In August 1831 William Hayman Cummings was born in Sidbury, England. He was a musician, notable tenor, and organist who may be best known for his wedding of Felix Mendelssohn’s music to the Charles Wesley hymn Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. An accomplished musician, Cummings was educated at St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir School and the City of London School. He was also the founder of the Purcell Society, a reputable singing professor at the Royal Academy of Music and later a principal for the Guildhall School of Music.

Wesley, who co-founded the Methodist Church, originally titled his hymn as Hark! How All the Welkin Rings in the 1739 publication Hymns and Sacred Poems. The carol melody was adapted from a cantata that Mendelssohn wrote as part of his commission to compose music for the 1840 Leipzig Gutenberg Festival. That festival commemorated the 400th anniversary of the invention of the printing press by Johann Gutenberg. Six years later the teenage Cummings was a chorister for Mendelssohn’s first London performance of Elijah, the second of three oratorios composed by the German master.

Perhaps during that performance Cummings developed an admiration for Mendelssohn’s music and then in 1855 decided to link Mendelssohn’s music with Charles Wesley’s hymn. Thus on Christmas Day of that year, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing was first sung at Waltham Abbey with William Hayman Cummings at the organ.

William H. Cummings

William H. Cummings

Christmas Classics PERSON OF THE DAY: Frances Roots Hadden

August 28th, 2013

In August 1910 the charming composer Frances Roots Hadden was born in Kuling, Lu Shan, China. She was the daughter of Logan Herbert Roots, the Episcopal Bishop of Hankow from 1904 to 1938. When the United States and China renewed diplomatic ties in 1972, Chou En-Lai, the Chinese premier, invited Frances and her husband, Richard, as his personal guests to perform a duet piano concert. That was the first performance by an American musician in the Republic of China since 1949, the year of the Communist takeover.

The Haddens’ duet piano concert included the Lu Shan Suite, composed by Frances in 1966. The suite melody was in fact based upon a work-song chant of stone carriers of the sacred and idyllic Lu-shan Mountain located in central China. Frances had often heard that tune as a child, which she also incorporated in her lovely carol A Chinese Christmas Cradle Song.

The tender lyrics of A Chinese Christmas Cradle Song are based on an anonymous 2nd century Chinese poem and were first printed in the The Second Treasury of Christmas Music (Emerson Books, New York, 1968). Also known as Shiao Bao-Bao, a term in Chinese meaning “Little Precious,” an endearing description for the baby Jesus, the enchanting carol belongs in every Christmas music library.

For those unfamiliar with Hadden’s truly remarkable piece, and if you are looking to expand your Christmas music horizons, I strongly suggest getting your hands on the album (if available) A Christmas Cantata by the Cardiff Polyphonic Choir & Orchestra with Richard Elfyn Jones conducting. It is one of the few places you will find the recording.

On a personal note, I had the privilege of speaking with Frances and her husband before her passing in 2000. They were both generous souls, and Frances was thrilled to learn about my research on carols and that I admired her carol so much.

Frances Roots Hadden

Frances Roots Hadden

Christmas Classics PERSON OF THE DAY: Edward Bliss Reed

August 19th, 2013

On this day in 1872, Edward Bliss Reed was born in New York.He was an esteemed professor at Yale University as well as eminent translator and propagator of Christmas carols. From 1924 to 1947, primarily during Reed’s editorial stewardship, the Carol Society of New Haven, Connecticut published nineteen high quality carol collections. Most collections contained eight carols from European countries, some of which were relatively unknown and theretofore unpublished. Although only a limited number of volumes were printed, I had the good fortune to find some of them on the well-organized shelves of the University of Pennsylvania Van Pelt Library.

The Yale scholar engaged himself in many literary pursuits during his career, but he seemed particularly motivated by his love of Christmas carols. Besides being a major contributor to the revival of medieval songs of Europe, Reed consistently researched, translated, and published carols, such as Christmas Carols Printed in the Sixteenth Century (1932), in addition to editing the collections of the Carol Society.

For most years from 1913 until his death in 1940, Reed took great delight in arranging the annual Phi Beta Kappa Christmas carols concerts at Yale’s Battell Chapel. His passing, though predating the last of the Carol Society publications, was a great loss and for all extensive purposes led to the Carol Society closing its door.

Edward Bliss Reed

Edward Bliss Reed

Christmas Classics PERSON OF THE DAY: William Bartholomew

August 18th, 2013

On this day in 1867, William Bartholomew died. He was noted for his English translations of many of Felix Mendelssohn’s German works, including Christus, an unfinished but superb oratorio.

A chemist by trade, as well as a painter, Bartholomew decided in 1822 to exclusively devote his time to writing lyrical versions of foreign texts. Mendelssohn much admired Bartholomew and his translating skills, and together they collaborated when the German master’s works were introduced in England, among which was the 1846 premiere of Mendelssohn’s more famous oratorio Elijah.

Bartholomew was also a composer of hymns, children’s songs, and produced his own oratorio titled The Nativity. The latter may have been influenced by the lamentable early death of Mendelssohn in 1847.

Two of the more remarkable fragments of Christus, a title given posthumously by Mendelssohn’s brother, Paul, and translated by William Bartholomew, related to the Nativity of Christ. They were the tenor recitative Where is the Newborn” and the choral recitative There Shall a Star from Jacob Come Forth.”

For those who have never heard the unfinished Christus, you should treat yourself and check it out this Christmas. You will learn why Mendelssohn, knowing death was near, wanted to husband his energy as best he could to finished these beautiful and moving recitatives. Bartholomew knew firsthand the brilliance of Mendelssohn’s last opus.

Christus Oratorio  sheet music cover

Christus Oratorio
sheet music cover

Christmas Classics PERSON OF THE DAY: Robert Lewis May

August 10th, 2013

On this day in 1976, Robert Lewis May died. His fame rests as the author who in 1939 wrote the story of Rudolph for which his brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, wrote a tune in 1948  titled Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. By the following year it was released as a recording, one that would become one of the most successful Christmas songs of all time.

How Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer became a huge success began as a simple request by Robert May’s boss at Montgomery Ward, the mail-order giant. The advertising executive asked May, the department’s copywriter, to write a cherry Christmas story in booklet form with an animal theme for its customers. In previous years Montgomery Ward gave away coloring books to its customers, but decided in 1939 to create its own booklet to save money.

At the time May was beset with problems at home. His wife, Evelyn, was suffering from an advanced case of cancer. His station in life was considerably less than what he had been used to. Raised in an affluent Jewish family in New Rochelle, New York, and graduating from Dartmouth College in 1926 with Phi Beta Kappa honors, his road ahead seemed quite promising. Then the stock market crashed in 1929 and with it the loss of his family’s wealth. Sometime during the 1930s he moved to Chicago, taking on a low-paying job as a copywriter for Montgomery Ward.

May took to the task and began the story of Rudolph in earnest. Drawing upon his memory as a painfully shy child, he decided to use a singular reindeer as the main character for the story. He was also mindful that his daughter Barbara loved the reindeer at the Chicago Zoo. It was during that early stage of writing Rudolph in July 1939 when Evelyn died. In light of her death, May’s boss offered him release from the story assignment, but May refused. Spurred on by grief and by his daughter’s encouragement, May wrote and rewrote the story, constantly reading it to Barbara for her approval until both agreed in late August 1939 that the final version was ready for Montgomery Ward.

The story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was first distributed to 2.4 million store customers during the 1939 Christmas season. They loved it! Due to World War II restrictions and the consequent shortage of paper, it wasn’t until 1946 when the company reissued the story to the tune of 3.6 million copies.

Although Montgomery Ward owned the copyright to the Rudolph story and despite the story’s tremendous appeal, Sewell Avery, the company president, as a gesture of eternal gratitude gave May the copyright to the story. Rudolph eventually was updated and published in 1947 as a colorfully illustrated book by a small New York publishing company.  It became an instant best-seller.

May eventually married an employee of Montgomery Ward. Her name was Virginia, a devout Catholic, and together they had five children. May was also famous for  growing the most amazing tomatoes, some of which grew to 12 feet tall. His fame,though, largely rests for penning a favorite holiday story that was borne out of grief and a sense of not belonging, ultimately becoming triumphant through the love of a child.

Robert L. May

Robert L. May