This is a fairly short novel detailing the history of some of the most well known Christmas songs, covering both hymns, such as Joy to the World and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, and sentimental favorites like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Silver Bells. It was a quick read and a nice way to pass the time, but certainly nothing ground-breaking. I was, however, really surprised by the stories surrounding some of these songs. It ran the gamut from tragedy to deception, the sentimental to the bizzare. Who knew that The 12 Days of Christmas was written as a way to teach Catholicism to young English children at a time that such knowledge was punishable by death. Or that God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, the phrase itself, meant, in the language of the time, something quite different than it does now. As for Silent Night, it was once banned by the Catholic church for being irreligious. The book was clearly written by someone deeply religious, and this permeates the book thoroughly, but as many of the songs are spiritual in nature that does not distract from the intent at all. I do know that I will never look at many of these songs in the same way again and that makes this book well worth a look.
Addendum to Review: Since writing this review, I have learned that at least one of the stories included is completely false. It didn't even take that much effort to discover that the history given for The 12 Days of Christmas was not that presented by the author. If it was that simple for me to discover, I'm sure the author could have just as easily done a little more digging to try and find the truth. This makes me wonder how many more of these stories are nothing more than unresearched heresay and unfortunately completely destroys my opinion of the book.