Romance in Waltz Time

Program Notes:

A charming new partner song about snowy days with the one you love.

Conductor Notes:

Two-part with piano. “Romance in Waltz Time” is one of Minnesota composer Abbie Burt Betinis’ Christmas compositions premiered annually in a special broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio. I heard it on YouTube done by just two singers and piano and immediately wrote to Abbie, because it doesn’t appear on the list of compositions on her website. We performed this with a tenor soloist on the top line and the 90 combined voices of Elektra and children’s choir on the bottom line. It would work equally well and probably better with both voices sung by choir.

Composer / Arranger Notes:

In 1922, Abbie’s great-grandfather, Rev. Bates G. Burt, began composing an annual Christmas carol and sending it as a seasonal greeting card to his friends, family, and parishioners. In 1942, he passed the job of composing the music to his son, Alfred S. Burt, a jazz trumpeter and young composer. The father-son team produced five carols together before Bates’s death in 1948. Alfred went on to write a total of fifteen Christmas carols, including the popular “Caroling, Caroling,” and “Some Children See Him,” made famous originally by the Voices of Jimmy Joyce and now recorded by artists all over the world.

Since 2001, Abbie has been continuing this annual family tradition. For her 15th carol, Romance in Waltz Time, she reimagined one of her great-uncle Alfred’s rare, unpublished tunes (Voice 1: m.1-32), commissioning lyrics for it from poet Michael Dennis Browne, and interlocking the wistful waltz with her own countermelody and lyrics. The result is a duet that speaks across the generations about transformation through the magic of love. Romance in Waltz Time premiered on Minnesota Public Radio in December 2015 before being sent, as always, as the family Christmas card.


This lists any discs, concerts or collections where this piece is included.




You bring the starlight and I’ll bring snow;
Over this heaven on earth we’ll go.
Hold high our lanterns so we can see
who in this miracle we could be.
These petals of angels through all the air,
dancing around us, my darling dear;
Why are we waiting for dreams to come true?
Here is my heaven with you.

-Michael Dennis Browne

In the air, everywhere, how your music wanders through.
On my own, not alone; listening for you.
Just come hold my hand, here, in the morning air,
and spin me into your silver song,
so my heart can sing along.
Everything caroling, carrying it on,
and I’ll dream it ever and always new.
Do you hear my song to you? 

-Abbie Betinis