November/December 2018 THE SCOTTISH RITE JOURNAL 9
scape. Whether you realize it or not, you are likely exposed to
one of his melodies on a daily basis. While “White Christmas”
was his most popular holiday song and his most commercially
successful song, his most well-known song must certainly be
“God Bless America.” Originally recorded by Kate Smith in
1938, the Berlin wrote the song twenty years earlier as a thank
you to the country that had allowed a poor Russian immigrant
to become a successful songwriter. The song was deeply personal for Brother Berlin and he refused to accept any royalties
for the tune, instead assigning the monies to the Boy Scouts
and Girl Scouts of America.
Brother Irving Berlin was raised in 1910 in Munn Lodge
No. 190 in New York City, was a member of the Scottish
Rite Valley of New York, and was a member of Mecca Shrine.
Shortly after he was raised, he wrote one song with reference
to Freemasonry, the 1910 song “Call me up some Rainy Afternoon” which features the refrain:
Call me up some rainy afternoon
I’ll arrange for a quiet little spoon
Think of all the joy and bliss
We can hug and we can talk about the weather
We can have a quiet little talk
I will see that my mother takes a walk
Mum’s the word when we meet
Be a Mason, don’t repeat
Angel eyes, are you wise?
Brother Irving Berlin passed away in 1989 at
the age of 101, and is interred in the Woodlawn
Cemetery in the Bronx.
NAT KING COLE
If any song rivals “White Christmas” for the title
of greatest Christmas song, it must be the Mel
Tormé’s “The Christmas Song” better known by
the colloquial title “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open
Fire.” The definitive version of that song comes by
way of the 1961 recording by Nat King Cole.
In 1960, Brother Cole released a Christmas al-
bum titled The Magic of Christmas, which was a
collection of traditional carols. The album was well
received, but when it was reissued in 1963 with the
inclusion of “The Christmas Song” sales took off like a rocket, and
the album became the best-selling Christmas album of the 1960s.
Nat King Cole grew up in Chicago, and was one of four chil-
dren. His mother taught him to play piano, and as a young student,
Brother Nat would sneak out of class to sit outside jazz clubs to lis-
ten to the music. By age fifteen, he had dropped out of school to pur-
sue his passion full time. His unique style and rumbling baritone
catapulted him to stardom. His talent was so immense that in the
Golden Age of Television, at a time when the country was highly
segregated, Nat King Cole was one of few people of color whose
face and voice were regularly seen and heard in white households.
Nat King Cole was raised as a Master Mason in 1944, alongside his longtime drummer Lee Young. They were both members of Thomas Waller Lodge No. 49, PHA, in California. The
lodge was named for fellow jazzman Fats Waller.
Brother Cole was a heavy smoker, and late in 1964 was diagnosed with lung cancer. Despite being told of his illness, Cole
continued to work and in December of 1964 recorded what
would be his final studio album L-O-V-E. The album was released on January 30, 1965, and on February 15, Cole passed
away. He is interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, in Glendale California. Cole’s recordings still sell into the thousands annually, with his Christmas recordings being his most popular.
Gottlieb, William P. Portrait of Nat
King Cole, New York, N. Y., ca. June.
United States, 1947. Monographic.