"This would stand out as one of the greatest assemblages of Christmas music ever done."
--- Tim Neely, Goldmine Magazine A surefire hit.
--- Karen Sandstrom, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)A marvelous gift for musicians and non-musicians alike.
--- Rich Gotshall , The Indianapolis StarA unique entry in the holiday market that chronicles the musical and social history of Christmas music in America.
--- Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press Clancy has put Christmas in a box that includes three top-notch CDs and a beautifully illustrated book that tells the history of Christmas in America and the stories behind the songs.
--Gene Mierzejewski, Book Editor The Flint Journal
Christmas Heirlooms Anyone can compile a good compact disc of Christmas music. Ronald M. Clancy of North Cape May, NJ, a lifelong Christmas music fan, had a different idea. He basically thought, Why not combine great recordings of holiday songs with richly illustrated books with complete lyrics and the stories behind the songs? In the process, he came up with the idea for a wide-ranging series that, when complete in a few years, will serve as the most comprehensive history of Christmas songs ever compiled. So that he could fulfill his mission without compromise, he found his own publishing house, Christmas Classics. The first three volumes of The Millennia Collection, as the series is called, are now available. They are positively amazing. Each volume comes in a color, 9½-by-11½ inch hinged box. Inside is a dust covered hardbound book with the same title as the box. Each page is richly illustrated with period art, and the complete lyrics to the songs on the enclosed CD are included, even for those songs still under copyright. Also included in two of the three boxes is a songbook with music from most of the songs on the enclosed CD. The disc itself comes sealed and is safely ensconced in a jewel box inside a die-cut opening at the bottom of the box, so the case won t slip around. These aren t merely Christmas music collections; they are works of art. The first volume, Best-Loved Christmas Carols, has two books plus a 25-song CD of choral and orchestral versions (Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Robert Shaw Chamber Singers, Ambrosian Singers) of the songs in the book. Volume two is called American Christmas Classics, and even if none of the others were any good, this would stand out as one of the greatest assemblages of Christmas music ever done. It contains the hardbound book with the stories behind all the songs and their lyrics. Plus it contains a well-conceived three-CD set, mostly from the Sony archives, but also, wherever absolutely necessary, with the most important version of the song. Thus, White Christmas is sung by Bing Crosby, The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole, Here Comes Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Gene Autry, and The Little Drummer Boy by the Harry Simone Chorale. And get ready: This CD contains the original mono single version of The Little Drummer boy which is very difficult to find on shiny aluminum. As one might expect, these volumes are not cheap. But they go above and beyond the average Christmas collection. These are well conceived and well executed and would make an excellent gift for any fan of holiday music and its lore. --Godmine Magazine, Tim Neely - 2003
Book Marked Christmas, indeed, can come in a box. In our secular society, the holiday season has become less a festival honoring the birth of Christ than an ever-expanding frenzy of shopping, eating and partying, Throughout it all, though, Christmas carols have offered a balm for the hearts and souls of devout believers and simple fun-lovers alike. ….That's why Ronald M. Clancy's "American Christmas Classics" is so special. Clancy has put Christmas in a box that includes 47 carols on a set of three top-notch CDs and a beautifully illustrated and informative book that tells the history of Christmas in America and the stories behind the songs. ….Making "American Christmas Classics" a truly multimedia event are its wonderful illustrations compiled from original artwork, magazines, sheet music and Christmas cards. --The Flint Journal, Gene Mierzejewski, Book Editor - 2001
There are lots of Christmas classics you could be reaching for this time of year. Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," Valentine Davies' "Miracle on 34th Street," Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory," Richard Paul Evans' "The Christmas Box" and Dylan Thomas' "A Child's Christmas in Wales" are perennial favorites that have a home in millions of Americans' holiday traditions. But each year there are also dozens and dozens of new Christmas books jamming store shelves and stacking up on tables, offering everything from the silly to the sublime. Here's a brief look at a handful of offerings, including a couple of fun kid-oriented picture books and two seasonal novels from best-selling authors. One of the splendid options is Ronald M. Clancy's "American Christmas Classics." This boxed set includes a hardback book and three CDs and takes a somewhat scholarly approach. Clancy, a well-known writer on Christmas carols, offers a bit of background on Christmas songs with U.S. origins in a compilation adorned with more than 90 colorful images, from the fine art and illustrations of American artists such as Norman Rockwell, Thomas Hart Benton, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Grandma Moses, N.C. Wyeth, Eastman Johnson and Sarah Stilwell Weber, to Victorian Christmas cards and popular periodicals such as The Saturday Evening Post and Life magazine. Most U.S. contributions to the international Christmas repertoire, Clancy writes, came after 1843, the year that Charles Dickens' classic holiday story "A Christmas Carol" was published. Puritan restrictions against Christmas celebrations stymied any earlier work. The popularity of "A Christmas Carol" and the advent of the Victorian era, however, helped popularize the season's music. A majority of the carols composed in this country up to the post-Civil War and late 19th century period, he writes, came from slaves and rural inhabitants. Essentially religious or spiritual in nature, these folk carols outnumbered secular carols and songs by 5 to 1. The book offers a page by page study of 47 American Christmas songs, including information on each piece's other titles, popular recording artists, who wrote the words and music, the lyrics and interesting history. For example, Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" was written in 1940 but wasn't available until two years later when the movie "Holiday Inn" was released. The song went on to become one of the best-selling single records of all time. The titles include carols, hymns and popular holiday songs, many well-known from the 20th century. Religious or spiritual titles, along with familiar favorites, include lesser-known ones from the 18th and 19th century. The book package includes three CDs of the 47 songs, from Gene Autry singing "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's version of "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear." The book is part of "The Millennia Collection" of 170 classical, sacred and secular Christmas compositions. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of "American Christmas Classic" go to the National World War II Memorial. --The Oregonian, Peggy M - 2002
Before I wrote one word, I laid out a plan to develop a series of products initially titled "A Christmas Festival of Great Music, Songs and Carols." Most of my early research was in the Music Department of the Free Library of Philadelphia and eventually hundreds of more hours in its Art, Religion, and Prints & Photograph departments. My research took me to various departments of the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Museum of American History, in addition to the fine art, music, and research libraries at the University of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, the Moore School of Art and Design, the University of the Arts, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, St. Joseph's University, the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia, Westminster College of Music, and a number of smaller branch libraries in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. I also corresponded with other seminaries and libraries around the county via snail mail before I finally purchased a computer. The research was done painstakingly without regard to the lateness of the hour. At times there were problems associated with accuracy since some sources differed with others on the facts. I tried to make allowances for these discrepancies. I also consulted with Prof. William E. Studwell, one of America's leading authorities on Christmas carols and editor of my first three books, who reviewed the manuscripts for accuracy of content. Also I had to obtain hundreds of permissions from copyright owners of images, song lyrics, and recordings before a book went to print. At times it was difficult, especially with respect to some images from the late 1940s - early 1950s era. In researching copyright ownership I developed databases that provided accurate information of over 1000 copyright entries. In some cases the owners of image copyrights had to be informed by me that they indeed owned the copyright. This was especially true of American Christmas Classics
that required 172 clearances before the book went to print. I am proud to say that I was able to obtain permission for every single song I requested for American Christmas Classics. It wasn't easy since SONY Music, the manufacturer of the music CDs, was denied permission on three occasions for the recording rights to Bing Crosby's White Christmas
and Nat King Cole's rendition of The Christmas Song
. Because of persistence, I was able to get the rights to these two valuable American holiday songs, which is a another chapter in my adventure to create a wonderful tribute to American Christmas carols and song. There was a certain amount of subjectivity selecting the songs, but aside from my own preferences I tried to include American carols and holiday classics from a two hundred year period that most people would select. Although a majority of the selections come from the 20th century, thus making it one of the most, if not the most, copyright protected collection of American Christmas music ever assembled, I did not make allowances for what was copyright or public domain. You just tell the history and let the chips fall where they may. As a result, the collection was quite costly to produce, yet consumers who might want only the purchase only Christmas music CDs would have to purchase six or seven CDs to replicate the collection of American Christmas Classics
. . . but they wouldn't get the lavishly illustrated book with one of the greatest collections of American Christmas art as part of the bargain!