A tradition of carols continues

Abbie Betinis
Composer Abbie Betinis.
Photo courtesy of Abbie Betinis

Christmas Eve is a time for tradition, and on All Things Considered, we continue what has become holiday tradition for Minnesota Public Radio.

Minnesota composer Abbie Burt Betinis has released a new Christmas carol. It's been a tradition here at MPR since 2001 to feature her new carol, but for Abbie's family, the tradition goes back to 1922.

Her great-grandfather, Bates Burt, was a pastor who sent the first carol out as a greeting card for family and friends and parishoners.

The tradition was picked up famously by his son Alfred Burt. In the 1940s and '50s, he wrote some 15 carols, standards like "some Children See Him" and "O, Hearken Ye."

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Alfred Burt died in 1954. But his fresh take on the carol continues to this day in the person of Abbie Betinis.

This year she even was inspired by a sermon of her great-grandfather's. Betinis told John Birge of Classical Minnesota Public Radio that this year, she had Advent on her mind when she wrote the carol "Behind the Clouds."

Performing "Behind the Clouds" in MPR's Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser Studio are Lynette Johnson, Laura Krider, Abbie Betinis, Justin Karch, Tony Sofie, Anders Eckman, Tim O'Brien, and Michael Meyer. The soprano soloist is Carrie Henneman Shaw.


Poem by Abbie Burt Betinis, after Bates G. Burt

Behind the clouds that darken human life,
Forever shines the Light of God;
And whensoever those clouds may go,
Dispelling the shadows in which we so
blindly grope,
Then is it, indeed,

With ears attuned to heaven's prophecies,
Our hearts await a Prince of Peace,
And whensoever that Prince appear,
And we in darkness, and we in fear
find release,
Then is it, indeed,

Awake! Awake! Lift up your hearts downcast,
For sorrow shall transform at last,
And whensoever that Rose unfurl'd,
Invites Hosannas for all the world
to employ,
Then is it, indeed,

O come, O come, come closer still tonight,
The pains of life remain, but Light...!
And whensoever that Light breaks through,
And we, in radiance, reflect a new
world above,
Then is it, indeed,

© 2008 by Abbie Betinis. Reprinted by permission of the author.