I’m dreaming of a white Christmas just like the ones I used to know where the treetops glisten, and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow. I’m dreaming of a white Christmas with every Christmas card I write. May your days be merry and bright and may all your Christmases be white.
Written by Jewish-American songwriter Irving Berlin, it is said that when he finished penning the lyrics to White Christmas, he knew he had written one of the best songs ever. Though two locations claim to have been his writing venue – La Quinta, California and the Arizona Biltmore – this song’s success came in part because of the incredible song-writer and in part because of its key recording artist.
First sung on Christmas Day in 1941 on The Kraft Music Hall for NBC, Bing Crosby was the first to sing it. And many would argue that his versions are the only ones that matter. Over the years, it was included in the movies Holiday Inn and White Christmas and has continued to be a holiday classic even into the twenty-first century.
Crosby’s nephew has shared a story about one particular USO show in December 1944 for 100,000 G.I.s in northern France. The soldiers had tears in their eyes as he sang this song and he had to make it through without breaking down. Many of the young men were killed in the Battle of the Bulge just a few days later. Crosby would later identify this as the most difficult thing he ever did during his career as an entertainer.
Though a secular piece, the power of this simple song is in its ability to transport us to previous holidays where things were as they should be. The world outside covered in snow. Trees covered in lights. Children experiencing magic. And loved ones around us.
Ultimately, Christmas is about the love that all the other symbols represent. For all those who are away from their homes at Christmas time, this song helps to draw home just a little bit nearer. May it brighten your season, in whatever climate or place you find yourself this season.
Lessons & Carols – The Shepherd’s Carol