"A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens (008)

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The December edition of Point of Learning is a holiday special, but one that follows this first season’s theme of strong influences on me as I began to think about what and how and why we learn. I grew up listening to my father read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The late Rev. Gilbert J. Horn was a Presbyterian minister who for thirty years performed his own abridged version of the classic tale for the congregations he served in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Colorado. For me as a very young child, Dad's distinctive vocal characterizations gave the story flesh and bone. Through his voice, it leapt from the page into my imagination every Christmas Eve. I was amazed, delighted, and a little scared, all at once. It’s not hard to draw a line from these childhood experiences to my career as an English teacher. I don’t know of any way I more surely internalized the power of story. I began reading A Christmas Carol in Westfield, New Jersey in 1998, and I am honored to continue the tradition. Today's episode includes the 20th annual performance, recorded live at First Baptist Church on December 16th, 2017.

donation information

Since 2000, all proceeds from this reading have been donated to Grace’s Kitchen in Plainfield, New Jersey, which serves hungry families the last 5 days of every month, every year. If you’d like to make a contribution, mail a check made out to PLAINFIELD COMMUNITY OUTREACH to Plainfield Community Outreach at 600 Cleveland Avenue Plainfield, NJ 07060. All donations are tax-deductible. 

With John Brzozowski, Michael Rosin, and Justin Rosin at the 2016 performance

With John Brzozowski, Michael Rosin, and Justin Rosin at the 2016 performance

Today’s episode features Michael Rosin on organ, including his original remix of Shayfer James' "Weight of the World" that we're using for intro and outro. During the live performance, piano preludes are usually performed by Justin Rosin. The Westfield High School Concert Choir was prepared by its directors, John Brzozowski and Maureen Francis. I'm grateful to the Choir and all other participants, this and every year, for donating their time.

Members of the Westfield Concert Choir rehearsing before the 2017 performance

Members of the Westfield Concert Choir rehearsing before the 2017 performance

More thanks: During the reading, Robyn Lee Horn played the part of Ebenezer’s onetime fiancée Belle. Kevin Johnson engineered sound for the live taping, and Ed Lara assisted with video for the YouTube version. 

Capturing Michael Rosin's improvisations on a theme by Shayfer James 

Capturing Michael Rosin's improvisations on a theme by Shayfer James 

With Bill Mathews

With Bill Mathews

Marley to my Scrooge for so many years, it was William R. Mathews who invited me to read at First Baptist, the church which has welcomed me back for two decades. Bill was then the organist and choirmaster of First Baptist Church, as well as a colleague of mine at Westfield High School. It's a pleasure to continue performing with him in Delaware these days.  

 

Peter Horn