I can’t figure out why it’s on a Christmas cassette I’ve had in my posession ever since I was a kid. Beautiful song, though. The cassette also had “The Bells of St. Mary’s” on it, which did make some sense, I thought. I see IMDB says the movie by the same name is a sequel. It looks like Going My Way is the first one featuring Bing Crosby as a Catholic priest. Bing sang “Winter Wonderland” in Holiday Inn the year earlier, which is also a good show.
The 90-minute Broadwayesque musical called “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is named after the 1940s ditty popularized by Bing Crosby. It will be staged in the Vinton Baptist sanctuary right below the choir loft.
“We just wanted to do something different for Christmas,” said Monroe, minister of music for the 2,000-member congregation. “This really fit perfectly for where we are right now.”
Considering old Bing first sang the song during WWII, I’d have to agree. Of course, the complaint is that secular tunes don’t belong in a church, even if they’re sung outside regular service hours, like this production.
“I know they’re trying to do good, but ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’ isn’t related to the Messiah or the virgin birth,” said Tim Sharp, executive director of the American Choral Directors Association, headquartered in Oklahoma City.
“You can hear Tony Bennett or Mariah Carey singing Christmas carols at the mall,” he added. “Church music should be more enduring and go into mystery.”
But there’s an undeniable taste for secular music in some churches, said David Charles Campbell, minister of music at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Roanoke. He also dislikes the trend.
“A lot of people want church to sound like what they hear on the dashboard of their car.” Considering the wide variety of religious music options, he argued, “Why forsake centuries of beauty for ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas?’ It’s just sentimental balm.”
And what’s wrong with sentimentality? Isn’t all right to include a desire to be with family around Christmas as part of the tradition? So what if the song isn’t as old as Handel’s Messiah? That was one of the most boring productions I’ve ever sat through and it was done at a high school — but only because that’s where many out-of-town performers do their shows when they don’t need a sports arena. I think it’s nice to see attempts to make faith fit the real world, rather than force believers to deny the passing of time.