Customer Reviews for

Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

Christmas Alone

My husband and I are separated and this will be my first Christmas alone in thirty years. Understandably I have not been looking forward to the Holidays. But I ran across this little book while shopping. It is a delightful quick read. Apparently some of our most beloved...
My husband and I are separated and this will be my first Christmas alone in thirty years. Understandably I have not been looking forward to the Holidays. But I ran across this little book while shopping. It is a delightful quick read. Apparently some of our most beloved Christmas Songs were inspired during times of trial and suffering. Discovering that pain and suffering produces creative inspiration and rebirth actually helped me to begin planning for Christmas. It is a small step but a beginning... A new beginning.

posted by Anonymous on November 4, 2002

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Most Helpful Critical Review

6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

Interesting but Misleading

"Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas" by Ace Collins (Website) is a short book, divided into sections, each corresponding to a beloved Christmas song. The book is arranged alphabetically and includes lyrics to most of the songs.

The book tells about 31 C...
"Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas" by Ace Collins (Website) is a short book, divided into sections, each corresponding to a beloved Christmas song. The book is arranged alphabetically and includes lyrics to most of the songs.

The book tells about 31 Christmas songs and carols including "Do You Hear what I Hear", "G-d Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", "Jingle Bells', "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" and more. The titles are arrange alphabetically and most of the songs also include the lyrics.

I was looking forward to read "Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas", not only to get into the holiday spirit but also because I love this type of books since my childhood. These short stories filled with charming facts and little unknown tidbits were always fascinating to me.

Not to mention a great resource in case I'll be on "Jeopardy" one day.

The premise of this book is quite interesting, that is telling the history of each carol or Christmas song. Mr. Collins is a good writer and makes the stories he writes about engaging and easy to read, but he lacks some serious research. The core fact of what the author is describing are woven with information which cannot be verified (such as putting thoughts in people's heads) or is simply misleading (I did some fact checking and found conflicting information). If the information is not wrong well, the reader is out of luck because there are absolutely no sources at the end.

I will grant the author that most of the stories he tells are legitimate and verifiable when one checks up on them but to mix fact and fiction only undermines the authors credibility.

For example, the author's take on "Good King Wenceslas", he mixes facts and legends into a simple narrative which could easily be taken as all pure fact and worst - be quoted from in the future. The piece about "Twelve Days of Christmas" (which accidentally I happen to look up) was taken out of an Internet page without any reasonable research. The author claims that the "Twelve Days of Christmas" was some sort of coded reference but a 2 second search on Google using the term "Twelve Days of Christmas Origin" brought me to a Snopes page claiming it is false.

For more book reviews please visit ManOfLaBook dot com

posted by Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com on December 27, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2002

    Christmas Alone

    My husband and I are separated and this will be my first Christmas alone in thirty years. Understandably I have not been looking forward to the Holidays. But I ran across this little book while shopping. It is a delightful quick read. Apparently some of our most beloved Christmas Songs were inspired during times of trial and suffering. Discovering that pain and suffering produces creative inspiration and rebirth actually helped me to begin planning for Christmas. It is a small step but a beginning... A new beginning.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting but Misleading

    "Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas" by Ace Collins (Website) is a short book, divided into sections, each corresponding to a beloved Christmas song. The book is arranged alphabetically and includes lyrics to most of the songs.

    The book tells about 31 Christmas songs and carols including "Do You Hear what I Hear", "G-d Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", "Jingle Bells', "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" and more. The titles are arrange alphabetically and most of the songs also include the lyrics.

    I was looking forward to read "Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas", not only to get into the holiday spirit but also because I love this type of books since my childhood. These short stories filled with charming facts and little unknown tidbits were always fascinating to me.

    Not to mention a great resource in case I'll be on "Jeopardy" one day.

    The premise of this book is quite interesting, that is telling the history of each carol or Christmas song. Mr. Collins is a good writer and makes the stories he writes about engaging and easy to read, but he lacks some serious research. The core fact of what the author is describing are woven with information which cannot be verified (such as putting thoughts in people's heads) or is simply misleading (I did some fact checking and found conflicting information). If the information is not wrong well, the reader is out of luck because there are absolutely no sources at the end.

    I will grant the author that most of the stories he tells are legitimate and verifiable when one checks up on them but to mix fact and fiction only undermines the authors credibility.

    For example, the author's take on "Good King Wenceslas", he mixes facts and legends into a simple narrative which could easily be taken as all pure fact and worst - be quoted from in the future. The piece about "Twelve Days of Christmas" (which accidentally I happen to look up) was taken out of an Internet page without any reasonable research. The author claims that the "Twelve Days of Christmas" was some sort of coded reference but a 2 second search on Google using the term "Twelve Days of Christmas Origin" brought me to a Snopes page claiming it is false.

    For more book reviews please visit ManOfLaBook dot com

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 9, 2009

    The best book of its kind.

    As a musician, I have always enjoyed learning the story behind the song. But this book turns each story into it an inspiation. I started out picking and choosing which songs I to read about. When I realized how much I was motivated by every story, I went back and read about the all the other songs and was moved by them too. Each song story is completely self-contained and are great for reading aloud to friends, family, and children. I bought all the remaining copies at my local B&N to give to friends last Christmas. This is the best "story behind the song" book I have ever read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2010

    Not Worth The Time

    Unfortunately, Ace Collins took a great idea and completely ruined it. Collins used many myths and folklore -- unverifiable -- and stated them as fact. The author needs to go back and take a course on sources, identifying CREDIBLE sources, and citing sources. Many of the stories the author paints as fact, are in fact, myths -- fiction in other words. A good example is "The Twelve Days of Christmas." If a person does a little research on the Internet, that individual can learn that the author used a story that has been proven false on the history of this Christmas Carol. I was very disappointed because I was looking forward to reading the history of many of my favorite Christmas hymns. I'm glad I downloaded the book for free.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 3, 2010

    Great source of information, but a little heavy handed on the religious aspect.

    I love music. I am a vocalist in the Symphony Choir which sings regularly with the Symphony Orchestra in the city I live. I am very fond of many pieces, no matter whether it be religious or secular. I found this book to be very educational. Some of the stories I knew such as "Silent Night" while other stories I had never heard about. The author is very clear and even points out certain fallacies and rumors regarding some of the stories. My big complaint is that the author uses this context to show how great God is. True, that God is an inspiration for MANY classical pieces, and certainly especially in Christmas songs, however I feel the author was a bit heavy handed. Here is an example. In the story regarding Silent Night, he describes how the priest in charge of the Christmas mass was flummoxed about what to do when he found the church organ unworkable. The author goes out of his way to basically say that the priest prayed for an answer from God and that God literally reached down and inspired the priest to dig out a 2 year old poem he had written and to go find his friend to quickly write a song to it. I'm not questioning the religious influence. I am questioning why the author would go out of his way to presume that God was the deliverer and the answer to the problem, thus my comment about the author's heavy handedness. It is unquestionable that most of these songs are religiously inspired. I simply wish that the author would have stuck to historical facts since this book is framed as a historical reference and had not added "religious fluff" to the stories. Thus I give it 3 stars.

    2 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Makes a wonderful Christmas gift

    Book was very informative and interesting. Would recommend it highly. Gave out to several people for Christmas gifts.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2014

    Very sweet and inspiring book

    I often wondered about where some of the Christmas songs came from. This book answered that question besides giving very interesting details about the backgrounds of the song's authors.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2013

    Absolutely wonderful.... As I read the stories I kept hearing th

    Absolutely wonderful.... As I read the stories I kept hearing the tune in my head and singing it in my heart. When I went to church each song sung took on more significance and produced more gratitude. This book portrays the deeper mystery of this wonderful season. There is a quiet working of the gospel message that is bigger than an individual and reaches out to all in ways man could not begin to orchestrate himself. God is behind and within every song and it's history.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2013

    Awsome kid book

    My kids LOVE IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Posted May 29, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    OK Book

    OK Book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2012

    I'll be Home for Christmas

    If my children could read this book today, the youngest is 28 oldest 39, they wouldn't I fear, get the same emotional thrill I got when I read this book cover to cover. Being a pre-WWII baby I remember the fears and joys of the time as if they were yesterday. My generation truly never had to bear the full brunt of what it was like for so many of the depression era families. And now WWII is taking many of their family members away to fight a war that was not of their making. My own family members who were in the war used this special music as a method of coping with their situations while also thinking about their families "back home." I cry as I remember the day a cousin's death was made known to the family just before Christmas. To this day I cry when I hear, "I'll be home for Christmas" just thinking about that terrible time in our lives. It is still a beautiful song and I love to hear it at this time of the year even though it brings back painful memories. It means the world to me knowing that as I prepare to some day leave this earthly home my children will know that "I'll always be home for Christmas'" if only in their dreams each time they hear this song played.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2012

    Super Interesting

    Just a great read & fun to hear the stories behing these great songs.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2011

    Great free book

    Very enjoyable histories of favorite Christmas songs.

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  • Posted August 9, 2011

    We wish you a merry christmas...

    PERFECT book!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2011

    Very interesting book.

    The explanations of the Christmas songs are very interesting and unexpected. Would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys singing or listening Christmas carols.

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  • Posted March 19, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    When You need trivia answers

    Very informative! A must read for the trivia buff because you discover the origins of the most popular Christmas songs!

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  • Posted February 1, 2011

    Delightful Book

    I really enjoyed reading about the background of all these wonderful Christmas songs I have sung most of my life. A great addition to any library!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2011

    Very inspiring! If you love Christmas, this is a great book!

    This book brought richness to so many songs I love. Many reflect and discuss how God's hand has touched many of these songs. I think I will probably read it every Christmas.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2011

    Huge Blunder

    Kim Gannon, who wrote "I'll be Home for Christmas", was a HE not a SHE! As soon as I read that obvious error I stopped reading and questioned the veracity of the entire book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    who knew?

    great reading loved reading abour the origins of the songs Biggest surprise was the 12 days of Christmas

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