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See also: Burt Family Christmas Carol Series

Prayer for Peace

Voicing: SATB a cappella - or -
             TTBB a cappella - or -
             unison chorus (or solo voice) and strings - or -
             voice and piano
Text: Abbie Betinis, based on texts by Bates Burt, 1940-46
Duration: 4 min.
Premiere: SATB: MPR Carolers, Minn. Public Radio - Dec. 2004
                TTBB: Orpheus Male Chorus of Phoenix - Dec. 2007
                Unison chorus and strings: Naples Orch. & Chorus - Dec. 2007
See the score: SATB a cap. (pdf)
                       TTBB a cap. (pdf)
                       unison chorus (or solo voice) and strings (pdf)
                       high voice & piano (or organ) (pdf)
Published by: Fred Bock Publications (SATB version)
                       Abbie Betinis Music Co (vocal solo & piano) (unison chorus & strings)


mp3, 3:37, 2.1 MB (SATB)

Performed by "The MPR Carolers" (Soloists Melissa Morey and Justin Karch, with Abbie Betinis, Laura Krider, Tony Sofie, Patrick McDonough, and Brian Steele.)

Go to the feature webpage on Minnesota Public Radio


The Singers--Minnesota Choral Artists (Matthew Culloton, conductor), Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. Justin Karch, tenor.
What Sweeter Music concert, Dec 2010


For my fourth annual Christmas carol, I looked to the Christmas sermons and political speeches of my great-grandfather, Bates Burt. In these writings, dating from 1940-1946, Bates speaks passionately about his hopes for a more loving world, his unwavering belief that a better peace exists, and wonders out loud whether we can each find that peace through the love inherent in the story of Christmas. Fortunately for me, many of his beautiful lines of prose are written so poetically that I was able to extract whole phrases and construct a new text for this year's carol around them:

"...Two principles stand out vividly in the hopes which cluster around Christmas. The first is freedom. The dignity and beauty of the common life demand that men shall be free from want and fear -- free to express honest thought and to develop their God-given personalities. Something was born at Bethlehem that denies the right of one man or one group -- ever or anywhere -- to exploit and oppress another."
- Bates G. Burt, from a speech to the Rotary Club (c.1943)

"We must have a better peace after this war than we had after the last, or once more the common man will have to wait to see his century dawn."
- Bates G. Burt, from a speech to the Rotary Club (c.1943)

"With eyes of faith which look backward through the years we, too, see the angels and hear their heavenly song. We kneel at the manger-cradle to behold and adore the child. Dare we ask what this vision means? ...In spite of all our fears, and all the dismal signs, and all the disheartening facts that confront us in a world at war -- a world where force is the God of nations, and cruelty is a virtue -- still the message rings down the ages telling us that these things need not be..."
- Bates G. Burt, from his sermon on Christmas morning, 1940

More information on the Burt Family Carols here.

Prayer for Peace Poem by Abbie Betinis, based on texts by Bates Burt, 1940-46
Peace, the breath of peace is near,
it calms and cheers,
As we, with eyes of faith, look backward
through the years...
Peace, it was the Angels' song
when He was born,
Peace and Good-will to all, they sang,
on Christmas morn.

Refrain: Gloria! Et in terra pax!

Lovely, oh so lovely,
the reflected star,
The star of Hope in every eye
that sought so far...
Far, they sought to love him:
Bethl'hem, Calvary...
That from their want and fear all people
shall be free.


Softly, o'er the snow so softly
comes the sign,
A better peace descends to us
at Christmastime.
Softly, o'er the snow so softly,
then is gone -
So we wait in hope, and fear, to see
our century dawn.


Angels, o'er the broken, spread your silver wings,
And help us to keep sacred all the love He brings.

© 2004 by Abbie Burt Betinis. For permission to reprint this text, email the author.

Performed by:

Charleston Civic Chorus - Charleston, WV
Choir of Christ Lutheran Church (Andrea Berntsen, conductor) - Allentown, PA
Choir of First Unitarian Church(Don Krehbiel, conductor) - Dallas, TX
Choir of First Unitarian Universalist Church (Jason Shelton, conductor) - Nashville, TN
Deviated Septet - Saint Paul, MN
Indianapolis Men's Chorus (Greg Sanders, conductor) - Indianapolis, IN
Los Robles Master Chorale(Lesley Leighton, conductor) - Simi Valley, CA
Magnum Chorum(Ralph Johnson, conductor) - Minneapolis, MN
MPR Carolers - Saint Paul, MN
Naples Orchestra and Chorus(Marian Dolan, conductor) - Naples, FL
Orpheus Male Chorus(Robb Butler, conductor) - Phoenix, AZ
Philadelphia Singers(David Hayes, conductor) - Philadelphia, PA
San Antonio Chamber Choir (Scott MacPherson, conductor) - San Antonio, TX
St. Paul's on-the-Hill Choir (Patrick McDonough, conductor) - St. Paul, MN
The Singers--Minnesota Choral Artists (Matthew Culloton, conductor) - Minneapolis, MN
Voces Novae et Antiquae (Robert Ross, conductor) - Philadelphia, PA

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