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MERRY CHRISTMAS: Songs bring comfort to those separated

December 23, 2012

Post & Mail photo / Christie Barkley Columbia City’s downtown businesses celebrate the season with Christmas-themed window displays.

COLUMBIA CITY — Christmas carols can conjure up warm, holiday memories. When sung by a choir, carols can have a magical quality to them. Christmas carols can evoke the child inside generating an excitement for the season. Christmas songs can transport hearts and minds across the miles as familiar words and melodies remind us of the ones we love.

Two songs in particular created such a feeling. The first, Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.” The song is most known for its presence in the movie musical, “White Christmas.” However, the song was first used in another movie musical, “Holiday Inn.”

According to Guinness Book of World Records, “White Christmas,” sung by Crosby, is the best-selling single of all time with an estimated sales of more than 50 million copies worldwide.

“White Christmas” is the most-recorded Christmas song. There have been more than 500 recorded versions of the song, in several different languages.

With lyrics describing holiday scenes such as — “just like the ones I used to know,” and “where the treetops glistened and children listened to hear sleigh bells in the snow,” the songs bring back memories of old-fashioned Christmases.

The song was a popular one among soldiers stationed overseas during World War II. The Armed Forces Network was inundated with requests for the tune.

In fact, during the movie, “White Christmas,” the song is first heard in a scene depicting a troop of soldiers battle-weary and longing for home. One can imagine that this scene was not to far from the truth during World War II. Even now, the scene would be accurate as many will be separated from the ones they love because of duty.

The second holiday song is “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” again, recorded by Bing Crosby. This 1943 Christmas favorite has since gone on to become a Christmas standard.

Not only has this been the theme song for those separated during the holidays, the melody is sung from the perspective of a soldier, stationed overseas during World War II.

Writing a letter to his family, the soldier makes a request for mistletoe, snow and presents. He is planning on being home for Christmas, “if only in my dreams,” he says.

According to music history data, the U.S. War Department released Bing Crosby’s performance of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” from the Dec. 7, 1944, Kraft Music Hall.

State leaders were quoted saying, “The song touched the hearts of Americans, both soldiers and civilians, who were in the midst of World War II.”

“I’ll Be Home for Christ-mas” became the most requested song at Christmas U.S.O. shows. Of course there are many other songs that are special to different people for different reasons. But history shows that never have two songs been more popular for those removed from home at Christmas.

For those celebrating Christmas from afar, “may your days be merry and bright.” Merry Christmas.

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