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Christmas

Father Bill Quinlivan prepares third Christmas CD

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Soon it will be Christmas, which means Christmas songs will fill the airwaves and hallways bringing good cheer to all. Father Bill Quinlivan, Buffalo’s own Singing Priest, will add to that joyfulness with his third CD of holiday tunes.

“Christmas Again” features a dozen ditties that span the spectrum of Christmas memories from the parties to missing loved ones to the true meaning of the day, Jesus’s birth. Father Quinlivan even wrote a song about another song dear to many hearts.

The disc opens up with the title track, which contains the sound of his friends having a festive time. His dog Gracie also makes an appearance.

“She’s on the album cover. My producer told me if she’s on the cover, she has to be on the album. Because she can’t carry a tune to save her life, she’s just barking,” Father Quinlivan said.

The Covid crisis that everyone has been facing for the past year and a half makes itself known in a song Father Quinlivan dedicated to his sister Mary, who died last year. The family was unable to sit with Mary in the hospital during her final days.

“‘Uncomfortable Christmas’ is definitely the saddest Christmas song I’ve ever written. That song was written for people who are grieving at Christmastime, who are having a hard time feeling jolly,” he explained. “But again, that song, in the last verse, turns them to focusing on the birth of Christ, Who comes to heal us of our pain, which includes grief.”

He had written the lyric years ago, but had a hard time putting it to music. “The words made me feel sad, so I didn’t want to look at it,” he said.

“Leaning on the Meaning” was written last year at his first post-shutdown Christmas.

“If we really lean into what the meaning of Christmas is, that’s the source of our joy. I was probably conscious of the fact that my own family was not together in large numbers, because when we get together, we have a large number, but not everyone in the family felt comfortable yet,” he said.

“Once Upon a Christmas Eve,” was written about the composition of the classic “Silent Night.” As the story goes, after the organ stopped working on Christmas Eve 1818, Father Joseph Mohr of St. Nicholas Parish in Oberndorf, Austria, asked organist Franz Xaver Gruber to grab a guitar write a melody for a prayer eh had written.  That became “Silent Night.”

Father Quinlivan visited Austria a few years ago and was able to sing “Silent Night” in the chapel of St. Nicholas Church.

Guest musicians on the disc include some longtime friends who Father Quinlivan has not recorded with before. 

Jude Russo Caserta sings the voice of Mary on “Manger Prayer.” David and Felicia Meyer from Kindred offer cello, guitar vocals and Irish bodhran. South Buffalo pub band Crikwater, Laura Lawless and Corey Dusel and engineer Alan Dusel also play various instruments.  

Accompanying the CD will be an animated video for “Time for Bed,” which depicts the trials of putting children to bed while visions of sugarplums dance in their heads. Villa Maria professor Jeffery Werner put Father Quinlivan in touch with students and grads of the school’s animation program to create the clip.

“I like the idea of trying to give professional experience to people who have majored in the arts. This might be a good thing to put on their resume – that they actually worked on a music video,” he said.

The CD is expected to be released in the middle of November. Visit www.frbillsings.com for updates and concert performances.

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