The Carpenter and the King
CONNIE: Hello I'm Connie Jeffery
CONNIE: And I'm Lonnie Melashenko. Connie, our program today is a
very special Christmas broadcast I know all our listeners are going to
CONNIE: We're so happy to have as our guest, Hugh Martin, who wrote
the familiar Christmas song, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
LONNIE: Our own contralto soloist, Del Delker, is with us too today,
she interviewed him, a real celebrity in the show business world.
CONNIE: But he's a very humble man.
LONNIE: He is. He doesn't let things go to his head, he doesn't take
glory, he passes it on as you'll notice just now as we listen in.
DEL: Hugh It's so nice to be with you again
HUGH: It's wonderful that we're still dear friends after all those camp
meetings that we went on.
HUGH: Its amazing, cause we went through everything didn't we.
DEL: We surely did, I tell you. I look back on those years with such
HUGH: The best.
DEL: We traveled with H.M.S. Richards Sr., founder of the Voice Of
Prophecy, we'll get into that a little bit later.
DEL: Hugh, tell us a little about your job description for so many years.
About 70 years isn't?
HUGH: It was really 70 years plus. I came to New York in the early
1930s, when I was about 19, and took every job I could get cause I didn't
know where I belonged. So I, I think the Lord knew where I belonged. So
me go through a lot of good rehearsing, failing at things so that I'd
what I was supposed to do.
DEL: Well you met many people that were household names. You
composed, you arranged, and vocal coached, right? For the movies and theater,
and now a little name dropping, we won't have time to do much of that
that would take hours.
HUGH: It really would.
DEL: But didn't you give Gene Kelly his first choreography job?
HUGH: I did. I know nobody will believe that, because Gene was so
brilliant. But when he was in "Pal Joey" he was a great Broadway
star, but in his
heart he wanted to be a choreographer, more than the performing, and I
feeling about it, and begged Mr. Abbot our producer to give Gene a job
choreographer. He finally gave in to my stubbornness and put Gene on the
and he was sensational.
DEL: Well then along came Judy Garland, a household word still.
Everyone knows her.
HUGH: Oh yes. There's nobody better.
DEL: I'm sure our listeners would just love to know how and why your
famous song " Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was written.
briefly tell us about that?
HUGH: Oh yes. Ralph Blain and I were partners, song writing partners,
and we were assigned to write the songs for, "Meet me in St. Louis",
one of Judy's biggest successes, and the reason I wrote the song, was
there was a Christmas scene in the script. I read the script. I saw that
needed a song, and I started noodeling on the piano and looking for a
might, might fill the bill, and I had been playing this tune all day,
make it finish. I got in the middle of it, I got stuck, and so I just
dropped it, and
put it aside. But fortunately the next day my partner Ralph said,"
yesterday you were playing kind of a madrigal like little tune, and I
really liked it.
What happened with it? I said well, I couldn't make it work, it just evaded
and so I put it aside and kind of threw it away. He said, You what? And
well I did, and he said well, get it from wherever it is and finish it
because I have
a big feeling about it, so indeed I did find it in my notebook.
DEL: I'm so glad you did.
HUGH: I'm glad I did, but the battle was still not over, because the
wrote for it was ridiculous. It really wasn't a good lyric at all.
DEL: It was pessimistic, wasn't it? It was very pessimistic.
And I might add here, from what I've heard, you were a very pessimistic
HUGH: O I was sad. Where were you when I needed you?
And so we auditioned the song for Judy and the producer and the director,
they laughed. They laughed--my sad old song, and here they were laughing
and I felt so hurt, and I…..
DEL: Give the line that they laughed at the most.
HUGH: Well, I'll sing it for you. The first 8 bars, this is what I wrote:
"Have yourself a merry little Christmas, It may be your last."
DEL: O good grief!
HUGH: "Next year we may all be living in the past!" And they
and I was so hurt
DEL: I don't blame 'em. I would've screamed too.
HUGH: And they said, well, we love the melody Hugh, how about writing
a nice, lovely happy Christmas lyric for it, and I was so stupid and young
arrogant and I said, No! Won't do it! You take it or leave it
DEL: You take it or leave it!
HUGH: And they left it, but Tom Drake, who was the leading man of the
movie, took me aside one day and he said, You know, you're being very
ridiculous, and he said you've got a really great song there potentially.
you please think about doing a proper lyric for it? And I suddenly realized
was right and I went home and wrote the one that's in the movie, which
is still a
little wistful and sad.
DEL: Yeah, there's a little line or so, but it's basically quite optimistic.
HUGH: It was basically upbeat, but it was still sad enough that I got
phone call from Frank Sinatra a few months later, saying, Hey, I like
Christmas song, Hugh, but I'm doing an album called "A Jolly Christmas."
you think you could jolly it up for me a bit? And I said, well, of course.
don't say No to Frank Sinatra. So I went for a walk, and when I came back
the line about "Hang a shining star upon the highest bow," which
Frank loved and
recorded. You know, almost everybody's recorded it, you know. I'm going
brag a little bit. I'm writing a book of memoirs and I wanted to mention
many recordings had been of my song, so I wrote to my publisher and he
a printout and guess how many were on there--separate recordings--500.
dropped dead. I was so thrilled and so grateful because obviously the
wanted me to have that. It was just a marvelous gift.
DEL: Well, Hugh, we've dropped a few names here. Enough name
dropping. Now let's get to the very best name, our Lord Jesus Christ,
influence in your life. How He entered your life. Now, let's see. 1960,
started realizing there was more to life than just show biz, didn't you?
HUGH: Couldn't believe it at first, but it certainly turned out to be
DEL: It took a long time for the Lord to get your attention
HUGH: O I know it.
DEL: Tell us about the experience that really caused you to sense your
need of the Lord.
HUGH: Well, I had been on drugs for 10 years and didn't even realize
There was a really outrageous doctor in New York. His name was Dr. Max
Jacobson. I can use his name because it all came out in the New York Times
the front page. He was injecting all of the show business people in New
And indeed he was able to remove the symptoms quite miraculously, but
happened after that--I mean we all fell apart. I fell apart in London
DEL: Why were you there?
HUGH: I was there to write a show with Noel Coward. They sent me to a
psychiatrist and I said, You know I'll never write another song. And it
lovely. I think the lord must have been smiling when He let this happen.
DEL: Now, you were in a mental institution?
HUGH: I was in a mental hospital, yes.
DEL: Yes, but I want the folks to hear about your encounter when you
went into that chapel
HUGH: I'll never forget it. It was probably the lowest moment of my life.
I was so desperate. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat, and I couldn't stop
cried for 3 weeks and finally roaming around the hospital, down in the
found a sweet little chapel. And I said O my God, I don't know whether
going to live or die or go crazy, but if you are there, please come to
me. I will
serve you for ever. If you will come and take me out of this miry pit.
put the phrase miry pit in my mind…
DEL: You must have read that in the Bible.
HUGH: I must have, or I heard my preacher say it in Birmingham.
DEL: Shortly after that you listened to a radio broadcast. Now I wonder
what the name of that is.
HUGH: Well, I will never forget that either because without the Voice
Prophecy I'm not sure any of these good things would have happened. I
have my born-again experience through the Voice, but I think it prepared
that. I listened for 9 years Del, and I listened because of you. This
is not flattery,
but I was not the least bit interested in sermons or messages or the Bible,
was not there yet. But your voice captivated me. Since Judy Garland I'd
heard anyone I really wanted to play for and be the accompanist for, but
heard you sing I thought oh if only I could be her accompanist I'd be
DEL: Well Hugh, we've worked together long enough to know that when
we perform we ask the Lord to bless it, so what you heard from me was
of God through these lovely songs we did, and we had a wonderful time.
you worked with us what was it about four years?
HUGH: It was about four summers, we did about two months every
summer for four years.
DEL: We worked together with the founder of VOP, Dr. H.M.S. Richards
Sr.. Hugh, how did you feel when you actually knew that you were a friend
Jesus, and you were born again?
HUGH: I felt the way a sick man feels when he's allowed to go outside
the first time in six months, or the way a condemned man feels when he's
of prison. Mark Twain said a wonderful thing once, they said, "Mr.
are the two greatest words in the English language?" And he thought
and then he said, "Not Guilty." And that's the way I felt when
I realized that all
those dreadful things had finally been wiped away, as far as the east
is from the
DEL: Well, not very many people know though Hugh, that you wrote a
spiritual lyrics to the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas",
Yourself a Blessed Little Christmas". You and a friend, what was
HUGH: Yes, his name is John Fricke…and he was a great friend of Judy
Garland, and he did the Judy Garland biography with me on A&E, that
a lot of
our listeners might have seen, which I was on. And John wrote me a letter
really to amuse me, not to suggest anything. He said, "I sang your
Church the other day, because my mother insisted I sing, and I couldn't
anything else to sing, so I sang Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
said afterwards, I got to thinking that song is so pretty it should have
words, Christian words, and he said I've written some, and here they are,
they may just make you laugh, or you may just throw them in the wastebasket,
but I wanted you to see them. Well I read them and I thought they were
good, and I wrote back that I'd like to work on it with him, may we collaborate
on it. So John and I, wrote the version that now goes out with the song,
anyone buys Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, they get Have Yourself
Blessed Little Christmas free, with it, you know since it's all on the
music, and Del, I understand that you're going to sing it for us right
Del Delker sings Have Yourself a Blessed Little Christmas, accompanied
by the composer, Hugh Martin.
CONNIE: Amen! We truly do wish all of you a a blessed little Christmas.
was Del Delker, accompanied by the composer, Hugh Martin. As we celebrate
the fact that Christ the King IS born--and not only THAT, there's more.
with us and taught us about His heavenly Father. It's a wonderful time
singing Hosanna and hymns and hallelujahs!
LONNIE: It is indeed, Connie. While some Christians would remind us
that it's a pretty sure thing that Jesus wasn't actually born on December
it's a good thing to have a time set aside every year when remember God's
greatest gift to our world. And so, today, in honor of the Christmas season,
want to offer you a precious gift.
CONNIE: The book The Desire of Ages is a classic. It tells the whole
story of the life and ministry of Jesus, and we're offering it as our
gift to anyone
who asks for it this week.
LONNIE: The number to call for your free copy of The Desire of Ages is
1-800-872-0055. It's one of my favorite books, and it's a great book for
you really appreciate the reason for the season.
CONNIE: After Lonnie's message today we'll give you an address you can
write to as well to request your copy of The Desire of Ages.
CONNIE: Lonnie, today's message wraps up our Christmas series. I take
it we'll be looking a bit past the birth of Jesus--perhaps to His childhood--in
message The Carpenter and the King.
The Carpenter and the King
Well let me share with you the Christmas story you may not have heard
before. Shortly after Jesus was born, an angel of the Lord came to Joseph
dream and warned him to take Jesus and Mary and head south--spend some
down in Egypt.
Of course the reason was that King Herod didn't like competition. When
he heard that a baby had been born who would be King of the Jews, he made
very plain that HE was going to be the one to choose his successor, not
Herod ordered all the baby boys in Bethlehem killed.
Joseph and Mary and Jesus left town just in time, and fled to Egypt. They
stayed there, south of the border, until they heard that Herod was no
threat. Here's how Matthew's Gospel describes what happened next, in chapter
2, verses 19 and 20:
After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph
in Egypt and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go
to the land
of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead"
With Herod dead, it seemed safe to go back to Bethlehem. Or perhaps
Joseph and Mary thought it would be even better to settle in Jerusalem.
they'd been told that Jesus would grow up to be a very important leader
people. The very prophecy that predicted where Jesus would be born proclaimed
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the
thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be
Ruler in Israel " (Micah 5:2NKJV).
With that in mind, it would seem natural to settle near the center of
activity. Jerusalem would offer the very best in education for their Son--not
mention the opportunity to establish a network of powerful friends who
help Him in His rise to power.
From a human standpoint, Jerusalem--or somewhere else in Judea would
be the best place to raise Jesus.
But human plans are often bested by divine plans. God has a better way.
Notice what happened next:
So [Joseph] got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land
of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place
of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in
dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in
town called Nazareth. (Matt 2:21-23 NIV).
That little travel tip Joseph received from God was--as usual--very good
It soon became apparent that Herod's son Archelaus was a chip off the
block. Life with him as ruler was no better or safer than with Herod on
throne. In fact things in Judea kept getting worse and worse. Finally,
years of listening to complaints, Augustus Caesar intervened and deposed
Archelaus and turned Judea into a Roman province.
Meanwhile, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus had moved to Nazareth up in Galilee.
You might think, from the Bible story, that they were basically out in
of nowhere, living in a tiny village with little contact with the outside
fact, the Bible tells us almost nothing about Jesus' childhood or early
And one of the things it doesn't tell us is that Jesus had some pretty
prestigious neighbors up there in Nazareth. Just an hours walk down the
was a much larger city that's never mentioned in the Bible. Sepphoris
name of the place, and I was able to visit the ruins of that city last
year as we
prepared our video series on The Story Behind the Christmas Story.
In Jesus' day it was a very important city. In fact, just about the time
Joseph and his family moved back to Nazareth, Herod Antipas chose Sepphoris
as his capital city!
Now, what that meant was that the city had to undergo a complete
rebuilding. There was a lot of turmoil in the area just after Herod the
and Sepphoris was almost completely destroyed. So when Antipas chose it
site for his palace, you know what that meant.
There would be a lot of work for carpenters and other artisans in
Sepphoris, just a hop skip and a jump up the road from Nazareth.
You know, it sent chills up and down my spine as we visited the ruins
the palace and amphitheater there. As I looked at the square-cut stones
the walls and rows of seats, I couldn't help but wonder: Did the carpenter
have anything to do with putting these stones in place?
Or, is it just possible that the young apprentice carpenter Jesus helped
build a roof here, or maybe some of the furniture?
It would be exciting if we knew for sure, but of course it's only
But one things sure. Jesus may have grown up in Nazareth, but He was
hick from the sticks. He lived within easy walking distance of the seat
When He spoke about how the rulers of His day behaved, He knew what He
talking about. It seems likely He had even had a hand in building a palace
But then the day came when Jesus laid aside His carpenter's tools and
to work on another kind of construction project. One that would be far
I told you that we visited the ruins of Sepphoris when we were in Israel.
Because you see, that's all that remains of the city Herod Antipas chose
capital. Stones and rounded sections of once-stately columns lie scattered
the site like toys on a playroom floor. The finest work of human hands
crumbles into ruins over time.
But when Jesus left Nazareth, left Sepphoris, He went on to build
something that would last. This time He didn't work in wood or stone,
something softer, more pliable, and more durable: Human hearts.
And the work He did there continues to grow and flourish even today. It
will never crumble into ruins.
Because you see, my friend, that's what the Christmas story is all about.
That's what the story behind the Christmas story is all about. It's about
who came to earth, not just as a little baby, not just as a carpenter's
son. But as
God Himself. God with a mission. God with a construction project.
He came to construct His church--not with stone, but with human flesh.
He came to gather together and build up all those of us who would respond
He wants to take your life, and my life, and He wants to apply His
carpenter's tools to us. To hone us, to polish us, to refine us, and make
Astones for building up His church.
This Christmas, invite Him to come and do that for you. Invite Him to
come into your heart, and be both the Carpenter and the King!