Last week Ross Carter kindly sent me an audio clip of the melody Barbara composed for her 1925 Christmas card. I hadn’t heard the song played before and it was a joy. I looped the mp3 and recited Barbara’s lyrics in terrible French. My apologies to Barbara.
On Christmas morn, Children, first looking from the windows, See how desolate and bleak the garden is. Withered the flowers, butterflies flown, Summer gone from the woods. But hist!—magic! Out there, the leaves that flutter down Are elfin butterflies, pearled with frost-patterns. Flowers and ferns of the garden Have come in fairy lace on the window-panes. And what is this, Wound about with climbing vines of the garden all turned to silver, Lighted with candles that make fireflies In every shining ball and glazen pendant? Summer has come into the cottage! It is May in the hearts of the children: And sweet as songs of the thrush at twilight Are the Noels raised by their happy voices. Fairies, oh! fairies, Come dancing soft as shadows, Set the wood a-whirl with snowy wings. Weave your iridescent webs, Wind them in beauty about the Tree: Touch it with wands of frost Until it is tipped and trimmed with icicles, Sparkling—gleaming!
1922 — Kitty’s Christmas Supper : Barbara’s Christmas card for her mother.
1923 — The Tree
1924 — Silver Magic (my photo of the original Christmas greeting is very blurry, but fortunately I have a copy of the poem from another source.There’s a rare typo in the latter, two-thirds of the way down: “thrust” should be “thrush.”)
1925 — Noël
The small text at the bottom reads:
Barbara Newhall Follett, the daughter of Wilson Follett, is twelve years old and already has achieved something of a reputation as the authoress of “The House Without Windows.” In this Christmas song, of which she wrote both the words and the melody, she has chosen French as the medium for the beautiful tale of the birth of Jesus. She tells first of crossing the world to come to the manager [sic], then of the wise men, their guest and their gifts. The shepherds leave their flocks to follow the light. Miss Follett closes with an exquisite stanza—”Oh Jesus, may Gow blass [sic] you. Take what we bring in our hands. He smiled out from the arms of Mary. Oh, the devine Child.”
Miss Follett has been painted by an Albany artist, Ida Pulls Lathrop [Dorothy Lathrop‘s mother]. This song is reproduced by Miss Follett’s permission and through the Courtesy of Miss Marjorie Potter, children’s librarian at the Harmanus Bleecker library.