Jerry Newcombe

Earlier this year, an event happened that did not receive wide notice. The last of the Von Trapp Family Singers, the last of the children---the real ones---died.

Her name was Maria---not to be confused with the lady played by Julie Andrews, Maria Augusta Trapp, who died in 1987. Maria Von Trapp’s death in February 2014 marks the end of an era.

The Sound of Music deserves its accolades as the Movie of the Year (1965) and one of the finest films ever made. Even my one-year-old granddaughter is mesmerized by the puppet scene.

As a film it is an icon. One time the great anti-gambling crusader, Rev. Tom Grey was asked on 60 Minutes to respond to those who say gambling is just entertainment. Noting the tragic toll the “entertainment” of gambling often takes on its victims, Grey asked, “Who watches The Sound of Music and then shoots himself in the parking lot?”

What's fascinating about the real Von Trapp Family is just how Christian the true story is.

The religious elements come out to some degree in the movie. Yet when the movie was marketed for Brazil, instead of the title we know the movie by, they decided to call it (in Portuguese) "The Rebellious Nun." But Maria didn't really rebel per se. She just discovered that God's call on her life was to serve God as a wife and mother, not in a cloister.

In her 1949 book, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, Maria Augusta Trapp said of her marriage to the Captain, Georg Von Trapp, "I greeted it with a heart full of happiness and readiness to serve God where He needed me most---wholeheartedly and cheerfully."

Although her role expanded later, Maria the nun was initially assigned just to tutor Maria, the daughter of Captain Von Trapp. Ironically, Maria the little girl was “of delicate health.” She is the one who died earlier this year, after living to be 99, outlasting them all.

Maria didn't mind the assignment to help the children (even though there had been 25 tutors and governesses before her) because she viewed it as temporary: "After all---I don't belong here; I am just loaned." But soon she came to be appreciated by the whole family, including the Captain.

Maria was shocked when she asked Maria Von Trapp, "Don't you have an Advent wreath every year?" The child replied, "No, we never did. What is it?" So the nun on loan to help the children not only brought music to the von Trapp family, but a Christ-centered Christmas as well.

The Captain later confessed, "I always feared Christmas more than any other day. But this year you have made it very beautiful for us. Thank you."


Jerry Newcombe

Dr. Jerry Newcombe is a key archivist of the D. James Kennedy Legacy Library and a Christian TV producer.