At the end of every year, the holiday season is not only the time to reflect on the strength of our faith and the endurance of our timeless belief, but also the perfect occasion to analyze and reflect on those obscure bits of minutiae scattered in familiar Christmas carols.
A prime example of this are these obscure but idyll words, which provide a prelude to one of the greatest carols of all time:
The sun is shining, the grass is green,
The orange and palm trees sway,
There’s never been such a day,
In Beverly Hills, L.A….
But it’s December the twenty-fourth,
And I am longing to be up North!
If this seems unrecognizable at first, these optimistic lines are the little-known opening to Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas”, written and intended as a nostalgic ode to North American winter celebrations. Berlin creates among his listeners an ethereal sense of daydreaming and pining for the snowy cold and comfortable warmth of a winter in the cooler regions of America, peppering the introduction with a sense of contrast, too. The best example of this version is by the Barefoot Movement, easily accessible on YouTube.
The lines that follow are just as obscure and not well-known as the last:
I just got back from a lovely trip along the Milky Way.
I stopped off at the North Pole to spend the holiday.
I called on dear old Santa Claus to see what I could see:
He took me in his workshop and told his plans to me.
Invoking a snappy return from a serendipitous celestial sojourn, J. F. Coots and Haven Gillespie invite the listener into Saint Nicholas’ workshop, where the good bishop elatedly enumerates eligibilities for his exceptional Yuletide list as he prepares to embark on his journey around the world on Christmas Eve. The best versions of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” featuring these lines are sung by the veteran jazz crooner Perry Como, pianist Diana Krall, and the great Ella Fitzgerald.
True enough, many years spent listening to and enjoying these timeless, classic Yuletide carols have allowed hidden beautiful gems in the lyrics of songs to show themselves brightly, pleasantly, and surprisingly. As with these glittering bits of lyrical rarities, may your Christmas holidays be merry and bright!