Moses Asch, the head of Folkways Records, is the son of the Yiddish writer Sholem Asch, and Pete Seeger is Folkways' flagship artist. That may help explain the existence of this record, on which Seeger recites Sholem Asch's account of the birth of Jesus Christ. Asch weaves an elaborate tale about Mary and Joseph's arrival in Bethlehem and Joseph's requests of several prominent figures -- "The Magistrate," "The Wealthy Man," "The Benefactor," and "The Teacher" -- for a place to stay for his wife, who is "big with child." All refuse him, and the family ends up in a manger, only to draw the attention of wise men and kings who reprove the city fathers for their neglect. Asch writes in a semi-biblical style using archaic language, as if to provide one more gospel for the New Testament. Seeger reads well, expressively intoning the words of the various characters. He supplements the story with half a dozen appropriate Christmas carols and spirituals touching upon the same story of Christ's birth, making this a good Christmas recording for the holidays. ~ William Ruhlmann
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