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Most collections contained eight carols from European countries, some of which were relatively unknown and theretofore unpublished.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