Since 2001 St. Paul composer Abbie Betinis has written a Christmas carol and sent it out as her annual holiday card. This year's carol, "Shem Speaks," represents an orphan lamb's perspective of the Christmas story.
Betinis is carrying on a family tradition begun in 1922 by her great-grandfather, Rev. Bates Burt, and continued by his son and Betinis's great-uncle, Alfred Burt. Some of Alfred Burt's carols, such as "The Star Carol" and "Some Children See Him," have become a part of the standard Christmas repertoire.
Betinis has been gaining a reputation for her music for Christmas. This month the Rose Ensemble, The Singers and the Rochester Choral Arts Ensemble are each premiering new works by Betinis during holiday performances. Abbie Betinis brought her singers to Minnesota Public Radio's Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser Studio to introduce "Shem Speaks." She spoke with host John Birge about her 2006 carol and the Burt family tradition.