Thursday, December 12, 2013

In the Dark Streets Shineth

Book: In the Dark Streets Shineth

Author: David McCullough
Edition: First edition, hardback
Read: December 2013
40 pages
Rated: 3 out of 5
Author David McCullough was asked to read at the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. From there, a collaboration about the nights events came about which looks like it lead to this book. The book looks at two popular Christmas songs, O Little Town of Bethlehem and I'll Be Home For Christmas and tells their stories.  It is told in the context of World War II, particularly when Churchill came to America for Christmas, right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The book comes with a DVD of the performance with the David McCullough.

 McCullogh states that take away American Music from the American story and you take away a good part of the soul of the story. He says that in conjunction to the two stories he tells about the songs sung for the DVD,  O Little Town of Bethlehem and I'll Be Home For Christmas. But is his hypothesis true for the 500 years this area of North America has been occupied by Europeans? Or even the Native American's? Or the Spanish and French?  What heritage do these songs play in the American story? Or what does our current emphasis on music say about us today?McCullogh seems to gloss over some of the  history of the carol  O Little Town of Bethlehem. Such as it was not an overnight success. Neither Brooks or Redner thought of it much beyond something for a children's Sunday school class time.

  • History behind O Little Town of Bethlehem
    • Hymns and Carols of Christmas web site
  • History of I'll Be Home for Christmas.
  • Who is Phillip Brooks?
    • Wikipedia notes him as a great preacher in the later 1800's, including being an Episcapol bishop of Boston.
    • Goodreads lists 10 books he wrote
    • Preaching Web Site notes he was a preacher who did not preach about Christ on the Cross.
    • Harvard Magazine May 1996 article
    • Richard Bolles of the book What Color is Your Parachute fame said in a Radix interview that he has collected 20 books of Brooks' sermons and poetry. Bolles collects any books he can find by Brookes.
  • Who is Lewis Redner, the organist?
  • What about Churchill's visit?
    •  From McCullough's book, you get the impression that Churchill came over to America to inspire us. But from Roosevelt's calendar, it appears that Churchill was here to plan the war effort and this Christmas eve talk was more because he was there.
    • Government archives teaching materials
    • Library of Congress
  • Who was Joseph Corrigan-who was the pastor at the Christmas Eve service in 1941. I could not find anything about him, besides meeting with Roosevelt about a year previous. He was a Catholic priest.
 This book is not bad for what it is meant to be, a table top picker upper. It is a quick and enjoyable read. It is filled with pictures of the time, and the words of Roosevelt and Churchill Christmas Eve, 1941. It definitely is not great literature, but you can find worse ways to spend 25 minutes than reading the book and watching the accompanying DVD.

Notes from my book group:
We had a nice discussion about memories associated with World War II. Some of my group were pretty young then, but they could remember things like rationing, and blackout screens and the concerns. Also, there was a discussion on how we remember our wars, particularly with the monuments we build.

Good Quotes:
  • First Line:  Music is part of our history.
  • Last Line:  And the words and music we love, and that have stood the test of time, mean still more when we their story.


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