White Christmas

Irving Berlin’s song “White Christmas” is the biggest selling single of all time and it’s not even close. You can have your Adele, Taylor or Miley, but combined they don’t add up to the success of White Christmas, especially the version sung by Bing Crosby. A bit of history is in order. Irving was hanging out in La Qunita, California at the La Quinta Hotel (yes, that is where the name comes from) when he wrote the song. Another story has him residing at the Arizona Biltmore. We’ll go with the La Quinta story since it adds a certain amount of pizzazz to the song’s origin. Irving, handing out in a dry, sunny, balmy paradise, longed for a traditional Christmas. He wrote this simple song:

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.

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.

In 1941, Bing Crosby sang the song with the backing of the John Scott Trotter Orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers and Chorus, in a recording session that lasted all of 18 minutes. The song steadily made its way up the charts to #1 in 1942. It was re-recorded in 1947 because the master recording was worn out from all the pressings. It’s been a holiday staple ever since. There is no version like Bing’s, but over 500 artists have given it a shot. It has sold, in combined versions, over 100 million singles. As to Bing, he said that “a jackdaw with a cleft palate could have sung it successfully,” I don’t think that was true, his version was soothing and settling and makes one reminisce about a beautiful, white snowy Christmas. While the song is secular in intent, having been written by a Jewish-American songwriter, it still, for me, is gospel.

For me, the idea of newly fallen snow, blanketing the earth, connotes peace, inner silence, beauty and protection. For on that day, God delivered all those things to us in the birth of His son, Jesus.

Merry Christmas.

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