Tuesday, December 9, 2014

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas: Day 9 - The Story of Silent Night (Hallmark Playhouse)

Working on sending out one blog entry each day in December to showcase great Old Time Radio for the Christmas season.  Here is a link to all the entries.  Here is day #9 - The Story of Silent Night - first heard on Radio's Hallmark Playhouse.

If you have Sirius/XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#82). He has a number of great programs available throughout the month of December on his great show.  You can also get a large number of these programs at a variety or resources on the web. One place to find these shows is the 500 OTR Christmas Shows from the Internet Archive. This is a great resources for many of these wonderful radio shows!

MSVMA All-State Choir at Michigan Youth Arts Festival (Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 15, 2010)

MSVMA All-State Choir at Michigan Youth Arts Festival (Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 15, 2010)

Long before the Hallmark Channel or the Hallmark Hall of Fame (a mainstay on TV since its early days), the Hallmark company hosted a radio series that showcased great stories, both fiction and nonfiction alike.  The radio series was hosted by author James Hilton, who is most famous for Lost Horizon and Goodbye, Mr. Chips.  Hilton died only a few years later in December 1954.  In fact it was Hilton's Lost Horizon that is announced as the featured work in the following week's Hallmark Playhouse.

In this Christmas-themed story on the Hallmark Playhouse, they tell the story of the song, Silent Night.  The song was written by Father Joseph Mohr and the music was written by Franz Xaver Gruber.  It was first performed on Christmas Eve, 1918, though Father Mohr had written the words a few years earlier.  This piece is a lovely accounting of the story of how the song came to be (seriously, did you expect something else from Hallmark?)  James Hilton was the narrator and Father Mohr was played by Gerald Mohr (of Phillip Marlowe fame) - pretty sure there is no relationship between the actor and the historical figure he depicted.  The piece also featured Parley Baer, who was best known for playing Chester on the radio version of Gunsmoke (a series that will be featured later in the holiday season).

As you can expect, the story is lovely and the singing is wonderful.  And if you can get past the idea that Father Mohr sounds like Phil Marlowe, you will enjoy this wonderful piece of Christmas history. Here is the episode:

Here are some links to programs relating to Hallmark Playhouse:
25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas:

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