Cherished Christmas Carols with Sister Elaine Burke

Sister Elaine Burke shares her “Cherished Christmas Carols” today, and as with many of the Ursuline Sisters, she couldn’t pick just one. Here are Sister Elaine’s choices.

“I’m so fond of two beautiful hymns. One is ‘The Birthday of a King,’ which we Ursulines have been singing for many years. I don’t know the publication date, but I remember singing it in Mount Saint Joseph Academy in 1947. It is unique and begins with the words, ‘In the little village of Bethlehem. There lay a child one day. The sky was bright with a holy light, o’er the place where Jesus lay.’

“The second one is ‘O Night of Holy Memory.’ It was written in 1917 by Franz Gruber. It was an old German Christmas carol. It begins with ”Neath the silent stars a town is sleeping,’ and then the hymn ‘Silent Night’ is interspersed throughout the hymn. It brings the shepherds and angels into the music and of course, it has a descant sung above the words ‘Round yon Virgin Mother and Child.’ It ends with ‘This Babe, so lowly, The Christ child holy, Our Lord, Immanuel!’

Sister Joan Brown

“The copy I have belonged to Sister Joan Brown, who was the music teacher in the Academy during the years I attended.”

Here is Judy Garland singing “The Birthday of a King”

The Birthday of a King

Here is “O Night of Holy Memory”

O Night of Holy Memory


  1. Michele Marie Morek

    Thank you! I had forgotten these–even though we sang them in 6th grade choir in St Thomas School, Farmington New Mexico! (right after I met the Ursulines for the first time….) And thanks for this feature, I love it.

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