With World War II upon us, the lyrics for the next carols were mailed to Texas, where Al was serving with the Army Air Force Band. The Christmas Eve before he left for service his "Communion Service" and an anthem, "They that Wait upon the Lord," were sung in the family church. The cards for 1943, "Jesu Parvule", and for 1944, "What Are the Signs", were reflections of the Burts' belief that Christianity, not war, was the solution to the world's problems. Al kept busy during the war years playing with the base dance band, The Yardbirds, with the concert band, for radio broadcasts, as well as writing arrangements. He also served as a substitute trumpeter for the Houston Symphony.

Jimmy Joyce Anne Burt
Jimmy Joyce with Anne Burt

During the war, I served as an operating room technician at the U.S. Naval Hospital in San Diego, California.

U.S. Naval Hospital
San Diego, Ca.
(to enlarge click on the image)

Known as the "Singing W.A.V.E.," I divided my time between duties in surgery and entertaining with the dance band. Here I met Marine Jimmy Joyce whose original music made our hospital classic, "Leave 'Em in Stitches," a smash hit. My contact with Al was slight during the war years, but the 1944 Christmas card opened communication again. We met on a hurried leave, became engaged, and announced our plans for marriage in the fall of the following year.

Mr. & Mrs. Alfred S. Burt
Mr. & Mrs. Alfred S. Burt
(to enlarge click on the image)

On October 13, 1945, Al and I were married in All Saints' Church with Father Burt officiating. Mother Burt, ill in the hospital with cancer, was unable to attend. But we shared the festivities by taking the bridal party to her hospital room. Pinning my bridal orchid on her bedjacket, I received her blessing. She died two weeks later and was buried in the family plot in Marquette.

In 1945 the carol, "Ah, Bleak and Chill" was sent as the family card with the addition of my name. Our Christmas was spent in San Angelo, Texas, awaiting Al's discharge from the Army Air Force Band. We had honeymooned in Waukegan, Illinois, getting my discharge from the Navy.
After Al's discharge, we toured the country for 15 months with an orchestra. Many of Al's friends returned to the University of Michigan for master's degrees, but Al said he was anxious to try his professional talents in the outside world. Al wrote most of the band's arrangements, and played trumpet. We shared the spotlight together as vocalists. It was a listenable band, but had little backing and fewer bookings, so we disbanded by mutual consent. That summer we spent time with Father Burt in Marquette. Another home had been built next to Furugaard. When completed, Dunescote would be a retirement retreat for Al's father. We shared a glorious visit filled with swimming, hiking, sailing, and reading by the light of the stone fireplace.

In the home of a dear friend, Al surprised his father by presenting the 1946 Christmas carol, having finished the music early that year. I recall the twinkle in Father Burt's eyes as he heard "All on a Christmas Morning". He had Al play it over and over, finally asking us all to join in singing the words. He was Al's most devoted fan, constantly thrilled by the scope of his musical ability.


From Marquette we traveled to New York City. Al taught sightsinging, theory, and musicianship at the American Theatre Wing School. Renewing his friendship with James Wolfe, concert pianist and former college roommate, Al accepted an invitation to compose something for his upcoming concert tour. Seven concert waltzes were written in crowded quarters without a piano. The waltzes were first performed in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Back to home

The carol for 1947, "Nigh Bethlehem" marked the last Christmas we would share with Father Burt. After his retirement from All Saints', he had taken a temporary rectorship near Towson, Maryland. Our holiday was filled with the favorite Burt traditions--turkey with all the trimmings, stocking presents, plum pudding, and the carol sing around the piano. Deborah Burt Norvell and her family made our holiday visit in their Towson home a lasting memory.


Early in 1948 Father Burt suffered a fatal heart attack. Once more we visited Marquette to place him beside his wife. Returning to New York, Al and I decided we would carry on the tradition of the family card. The text for the 1948 carol was an old English rune of hospitality, given to us by the Reverend John Burt. When John was a student at the Virginia Theological Seminary, he had seen the words on a wall hanging in the Dean's office. Today, the original manuscript of "Christ in the Stranger's Guise" hangs in our home.