The Burt Family Christmas Card Carol Tradition

July 14, 2011 / By: Sharon Kay Howell

Over the years, the works of many Christmas lyricists and composers have become well known, including those of Franz Gruber, Joseph Mohr, Charles Wesley, Edmund Sears, and more recently, John Rutter. However, one carol composer whose works are well known but whose name is not, is Alfred Shaddick Burt who was born on April 22, 1920 in Marquette, Michigan to Emily May Bailey and the Reverend Bates G. Burt. A self-taught musician, in 1922 Rev. Burt began a tradition of sending Christmas cards to his family and friends containing an orignal Christmas carol to which he had composed the music and lyrics. Eventually, his younger son, Alfred, took over this tradition and began a musical legacy that would make the annual Burt family carols known by millions of people. Now, recently, Alfred Burt's great-niece, Abbie Betinis has made a name for herself as a composer and has reinitiated the family tradition of composing and sending carol cards. This paper is a story of this tradition.