Abbie Betinis Sings and Sings and Sings for Christmas

by John Birge, Minnesota Public Radio
December 22, 2009
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St. Paul, Minn. — "This song more or less is
The way one expresses
The spirit that blesses
Our Jesus today."

The Reverend Bates Burt wrote those words for "Let Christmas Be Merry," a carol he composed for Christmas 1933. For the 2009 holiday, Burt's great-granddaughter, Abbie Burt Betinis, is still writing songs that express "the spirit that blesses" at Christmas.

Betinis carries on a family tradition begun in 1922 by her great-grandfather Bates Burt, and continued by Betinis's great-uncle, Alfred Burt. Some of Alfred Burt's carols, such as "Caroling, Caroling" and "The Star Carol" have become a part of the standard Christmas repertoire.

Now, for the ninth straight year, Abbie Betinis brought her friends to Classical Minnesota Public Radio to sing the world premiere of her latest carol, "Be Like the Bird":

"Be like the bird that,
Pausing in her flight
awhile on boughs too slight,
feels them give way beneath her,
and sings, and sings, and sings
knowing she hath wings."

-Victor Hugo

They also perform past carols by Bates and Alfred Burt.

This year's "MPR Carolers" include singers Carrie Henneman Shaw, Melissa Morey, Kim Sueoka, Kathy Lee, Justin Karch, and Ben Henry-Moreland.

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