Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Lyr Req: The Christmas Guest (Grandpa Jones)

Related threads:
Lyr Req: Rosalee (Grandpa Jones) (8)
Obit: Ramona Jones (1924-2015) (7)
Lyr Req: Melinda (She Was Handsome...Grandpa Jones (5)
Lyr Req: Tragic Romance (Grandpa Jones) (6)
Lyr Req: Piney Jane / Pliney Jane (Grandpa Jones) (16)
Lyr Req: Banjo Sam (Grandpa Jones) (30)
Lyr Req: I Don't Know Gee from Haw (Grandpa Jones) (5)
Lyr Req: Conrad's Christmas (Grandpa Jones) (4)
Lyr Req: Tragic Romance (Grandpa Jones) (15) (closed)
Lyr Req: Christmas Guest (Grandpa Jones) (2) (closed)
Lyr Req: Tragic Romance (Grandpa Jones) (4)


Richard 31 Jul 98 - 06:42 PM
Joe Offer 01 Aug 98 - 02:38 AM
Richard 01 Aug 98 - 09:48 PM
Jim Dixon 24 Dec 10 - 12:09 AM
Jim Dixon 24 Dec 10 - 12:52 AM
GUEST,DWR 24 Dec 10 - 10:35 AM
Jim Dixon 24 Dec 10 - 11:55 AM
open mike 24 Dec 10 - 04:08 PM
open mike 24 Dec 10 - 11:16 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:





Subject: Lyrics Req.-The Christmas Guest
From: Richard
Date: 31 Jul 98 - 06:42 PM

I was wondering if anyone could tell me the lyrics of the song called "The Christmas Guest" that was sung by Grandpa Jones and later by Reba McEntire.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: THE STORY OF THE CHRISTMAS GUEST (H Rice)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Aug 98 - 02:38 AM

Richard, is this what you're looking for? Best wishes of the season to you.
-Joe Offer-

The Story of the Christmas Guest

It happened one day at the year's white end,
Two neighbors called on an old-time friend

And they found his shop so meager and mean,
Made gay with a thousand boughs of green,

And Conrad was sitting with face a-shine
When he suddenly stopped as he stitched a twine

And said, "Old friends, at dawn today,
When the cock was crowing the night away,

The Lord appeared in a dream to me
And said, 'I am coming your guest to be'.

So I've been busy with feet astir,
Strewing my shop with branches of fir,

The table is spread and the kettle is shined
And over the rafters the holly is twined,

And now I will wait for my Lord to appear
And listen closely so I will hear

His step as He nears my humble place,
And I open the door and look in His face. . ."

So his friends went home and left Conrad alone,
For this was the happiest day he had known,

For, long since, his family had passed away
And Conrad has spent a sad Christmas Day.

But he knew with the Lord as his Christmas guest
This Christmas would be the dearest and best,

And he listened with only joy in his heart.
And with every sound he would rise with a start

And look for the Lord to be standing there
In answer to his earnest prayer

So he ran to the window after hearing a sound,
But all that he saw on the snow-covered ground

Was a shabby beggar whose shoes were torn
And all of his clothes were ragged and worn.

So Conrad was touched and went to the door
And he said, "Your feet must be frozen and sore,

And I have some shoes in my shop for you
And a coat that will keep you warmer, too."

So with grateful heart the man went away,
But as Conrad noticed the time of day

He wondered what made the dear Lord so late
And how much longer he'd have to wait,

When he heard a knock and ran to the door,
But it was only a stranger once more,

A bent, old crone with a shawl of black,
A bundle of faggots piled on her back.

She asked for only a place to rest,
But that was reserved for Conrad's Great Guest.

But her voice seemed to plead, "Don't send me away
Let me rest awhile on Christmas day."

So Conrad brewed her a steaming cup
And told her to sit at the table and sup.

But after she left he was filled with dismay
For he saw that the hours were passing away

And the Lord had not come as He said He would,
And Conrad felt sure he had misunderstood.

When out of the stillness he heard a cry,
"Please help me and tell me where am I."

So again he opened his friendly door
And stood disappointed as twice before,

It was only a child who had wandered away
And was lost from her family on Christmas Day. .

Again Conrad's heart was heavy and sad,
But he knew he should make this little child glad,

So he called her in and wiped her tears
And quieted her childish fears.

Then he led her back to her home once more
But as he entered his own darkened door,

He knew that the Lord was not coming today
For the hours of Christmas had passed away.

So he went to his room and knelt down to pray
And he said, "Dear Lord, why did you delay,

What kept You from coming to call on me,
For I wanted so much Your face to see. . ."

When soft in the silence a voice he heard,
"Lift up your head for I kept My word--

Three times My shadow crossed your floor--
Three times I came to your lonely door--

For I was the beggar with bruised, cold feet,
I was the woman you gave to eat,
And I was the child on the homeless street."

Helen Steiner Rice


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyrics Req.-The Christmas Guest
From: Richard
Date: 01 Aug 98 - 09:48 PM

Thanks Joe! That is the song that I was looking for.You guys are unreal!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: HOW THE GREAT GUEST CAME (Edwin Markham)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 24 Dec 10 - 12:09 AM

Here's a longer version with a different title and a different attribution. Note that this version makes no mention of Christmas.

From The Shoes of Happiness: And Other Poems by Edwin Markham (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1915), page 56:


HOW THE GREAT GUEST CAME
(Edwin Markham)
I
Before the Cathedral in grandeur rose,
At Ingelburg where the Danube goes;
Before its forest of silver spires
Went airily up to the clouds and fires;
Before the oak had ready a beam,
While yet the arch was stone and dream—
There where the altar was later laid,
Conrad the cobbler plied his trade.

II
Doubled all day on his busy bench,
Hard at his cobbling for master and hench,
He pounded away at a brisk rat-tat,
Shearing and shaping with pull and pat,
Hide well hammered and pegs sent home,
Till the shoe was fit for the Prince of Rome.
And he sang as the threads went to and fro:
"Whether 'tis hidden or whether it show,
Let the work be sound, for the Lord will know."

III
Tall was the cobbler, and gray and thin,
And a full moon shone where the hair had been.
His eyes peered out, intent and afar,
As looking beyond the things that are.
He walked as one who is done with fear,
Knowing at last that God is near.
Only the half of him cobbled the shoes:
The rest was away for the heavenly news.
Indeed, so thin was the mystic screen
That parted the Unseen from the Seen,
You could not tell, from the cobbler's theme
If his dream were truth or his truth were dream.

IV
It happened one day at the year's white end,
Two neighbors called on their old-time friend;
And they found the shop, so meagre and mean,
Made gay with a hundred boughs of green.
Conrad was stitching with face ashine,
But suddenly stopped as he twitched a twine:
"Old friends, good news! At dawn today,
As the cocks were scaring the night away,
The Lord appeared in a dream to me,
And said, 'I am coming your Guest to be!'
So I've been busy with feet astir,
Strewing the floor with branches of fir.
The wall is washed and the shelf is shined,
And over the rafter the holly twined.
He comes to-day, and the table is spread
With milk and honey and wheaten bread."

V
His friends went home; and his face grew still
As he watched for the shadow across the sill.
He lived all the moments o'er and o'er,
When the Lord should enter the lowly door—
The knock, the call, the latch pulled up,
The lighted face, the offered cup.
He would wash the feet where the spikes had been;
He would kiss the hands where the nails went in;
And then at the last would sit with Him
And break the bread as the day grew dim.

VI
While the cobbler mused, there passed his pane
A beggar drenched by the driving rain.
He called him in from the stony street
And gave him shoes for his bruised feet.
The beggar went and there came a crone,
Her face with wrinkles of sorrow sown.
A bundle of fagots bowed her back,
And she was spent with the wrench and rack.
He gave her his loaf and steadied her load
As she took her way on the weary road.
Then to his door came a little child,
Lost and afraid in the world so wild,
In the big, dark world. Catching it up,
He gave it the milk in the waiting cup,
And led it home to its mother's arms,
Out of the reach of the world's alarms.

VII
The day went down in the crimson west
And with it the hope of the blessed Guest,
And Conrad sighed as the world turned gray:
"Why is it, Lord, that your feet delay?
Did You forget that this was the day?"
Then soft in the silence a Voice he heard:
"Lift up your heart, for I kept my word.
Three times I came to your friendly door;
Three times my shadow was on your floor.
I was the beggar with bruised feet;
I was the woman you gave to eat;
I was the child on the homeless street!"


The poem had earlier been printed with the title "The Great Guest Comes," also attributed to Markham, in The Bridgemen's Magazine, Volume 13, No. 11 (Indianapolis: International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers, November, 1913), page 795.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: THE CHRISTMAS GUEST (Grandpa Jones)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 24 Dec 10 - 12:52 AM

Grandpa Jones' version is called THE CHRISTMAS GUEST, and it is attributed to Grandpa Jones and Bill Walker. It appears on "Everybody's Grandpa" (1996), "Jingle Bell Country" (1998), and "16 Biggest Hits: Country Christmas, Vol. 2" (2004).

It has also been recorded by Johnny Cash, Ricky Skaggs, Reba McEntire, Randy Travis, Sherwin Linton, and Jerry Hanlon.

You can hear Grandpa Jones' version at YouTube. I have checked his performance against the version posted by Joe above, and have boldfaced the words that are different:


THE CHRISTMAS GUEST
(Grandpa Jones and Bill Walker)

It happened one day near December's end,
Two neighbors called on an old-time friend
And they found his shop so meager and mean,
Made gay with a thousand boughs of green,
And Conrad was sitting with face a-shine
When he suddenly stopped as he stitched a twine
And he said, "Old friends, at dawn today,
When the cock was crowing the night away,
The Lord appeared in a dream to me
And said, 'I am coming your guest to be.'

So I've been busy with feet astir,
Strewing my shop with branches of fir,
The table is spread and the kettle is shined
And over the rafters the holly is twined,
And now I'll wait for my Lord to appear
And listen closely so I will hear
His step as He nears my humble place,
And I open the door and look on His face."

So his friends went home and left Conrad alone,
For this was the happiest day he had known,
For, long since, his family had passed away
And Conrad has spent many a sad Christmas Day.
But he knew with the Lord as his Christmas guest
This Christmas would be the dearest and best,
So he listened with only joy in his heart,
And with every sound he would rise with a start
And look for the Lord to be at his door
Like the vision he had a few hours before.


So he ran to the window after hearing a sound,
But all he could see on the snow-covered ground
Was a shabby beggar whose shoes were torn
And all of his clothes were ragged and worn.
But Conrad was touched and went to the door
And he said, "Your feet must be frozen and sore,
And I have some shoes in my shop for you
And a coat that will keep you warmer, too."

So with grateful heart the man went away,
But as Conrad noticed the time of day
And he wondered what made the dear Lord so late
And how much longer he'd have to wait,
When he heard a knock he ran to the door,
But it was only a stranger once more,
A bent, old lady with a shawl of black,
A bundle of kindling piled on her back.
She asked for only a place to rest,
But that was reserved for Conrad's Great Guest.
But her voice seemed to plead, "Don't send me away
Let me rest for awhile on Christmas day."
So Conrad brewed her a steaming cup
And told her to sit at the table and sup.
But after she left he was filled with dismay
For he saw that the hours were slipping away
And the Lord hadn't come as He said He would,
And Conrad felt sure he had misunderstood.

When out of the stillness he heard a cry,
"Please help me and tell me, where am I?"
So again he opened his friendly door
And stood disappointed as twice before,
It was only a child who had wandered away
And was lost from her family on Christmas Day.
Again Conrad's heart was heavy and sad,
But he knew he should make the little girl glad,
So he called her in and wiped her tears
And quieted her childish fears.
Then he led her back to her home once more
But as he entered his own darkened door,
He knew that the Lord was not coming today
For the hours of Christmas had passed away.

So he went to his room and knelt down to pray
And he said, "Dear Lord, why did you delay,
What kept You from coming to call on me,
For I wanted so much Your face to see."
When soft in the silence a voice he heard,
"Lift up your head for I kept My word--
Three times My shadow crossed your floor--
Three times I came to your lowly door--
For I was the beggar with bruised, cold feet,
I was the woman you gave something to eat,
And I was the child on the homeless street.
Three times I knocked, three times I came in,
And each time I found the warmth of a friend.
Of all the gifts, love is the best.
I was honored to be your Christmas guest."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Christmas Guest (Grandpa Jones)
From: GUEST,DWR
Date: 24 Dec 10 - 10:35 AM

Well, Jim, I'm certainly glad I went Christmas shopping last night! Before I left, I saw your first post reviving this old thread, and I thought to myself, we certainly need Grandpa's version on here! Before I left, I had done some preliminary work at transcribing his version from an Ozark Folk Center concert from December of 1980. It was fresh in my mind, as we had just used it on our radio show, KFFB at the Ozark Folk Center, last Saturday morning.

So anyway, when I got back home about 2:30 AM, there you had it all laid out for me and I could just go to bed knowing I didn't have to finish it up myself! I was even going to put in bold the parts where his version differed from Helen Steiner Rice's which Joe had supplied in 1998.

I really like the version Grandpa did at the OFC a whole lot better than the commercial versions. Naturally, it's got that "live" feel and the accompaniment is just understated guitar by his son Mark and Joe Carroll, rather than the orchestral sound of the version linked by Jim.   As far as the actual differences in the transcriptions of the live performance and the commercial version, there isn't enough variance to make it worth doing. Thanks again, Jim, for all the good work you do around here. I certainly notice and appreciate it.

Here's what Grandpa had to say as introduction to that particular performance of the poem.

"Ramona not too long ago found a -- oh, a few years ago, found a little poem in a little book and we thought it was one of the nicest Christmas poems we've heard. We wrote the last part of it -- finished it up. I'd like to read it to you if you don't mind. It's called The Christmas Guest."

That accounts for those last four lines which, in my opinion, really "finished it up" nicely, to quote Grandpa on the matter.   

And here is an introduction to another of Grandpa's performances at the Center. I quote it to emphasize that he states that he did not know the source. This was thirty years ago when we didn't have the internet and google to call up the information in a few seconds.

"I don't know who wrote this poem, but we put it on a record and it got a lot of plays, it does every Christmas. A lot of folks wrote in for it and I'd like to do it for you."

In yet another show from the era, (introduced by Mudcatter, Arkie!) Grandpa mentions that it was recorded on the Monument label. Right at the moment, I don't have the years he was at Monument, but I know he started there in 1962, so I'm making a rough guess of 1970 or so. I think it should be pretty clear that all of the recorded versions almost certainly stem from Grandpa's.

Dale


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Christmas Guest (Grandpa Jones)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 24 Dec 10 - 11:55 AM

The U.S. Catalog of Copyright Entries lists "The story of the Christmas guest, as retold by Helen Steiner Rice," (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1972).

It was published as a 28-page book that same year. Odd: Grandpa Jones says he got his version "a few years ago" from "a little book." And neither he nor his record publisher, nor any of the other artists who performed "his" version gave credit to Rice. And I haven't seen Rice's book, but Rice apparently didn't give credit to Markham, either!—although she did label her version "as retold by."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Christmas Guest (Grandpa Jones)
From: open mike
Date: 24 Dec 10 - 04:08 PM

folk process v.s. ascap/bmi

the Carter family got away with it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Christmas Guest (Grandpa Jones)
From: open mike
Date: 24 Dec 10 - 11:16 PM

and here is Reba MacIntire's version
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8SgpLKjxTo&feature=related


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 14 August 4:33 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.