Are gayla peevey's recordings of cold in the node for Christmas and angel in the Christmas play protected under copyright laws since they have not been released since the 1950's?
Yes; sound recording copyright is some of the most convoluted copyright of all. Recordings prior to 1978 are protected by state law.
Most modern copyright laws protect materials for the life of the author plus 50 (or 70) years, so the date the work was produced doesn't affect the term of copyright. However, corporate works (for example a movie, a magazine, anything that was created by a large number of contributors) are protected for an amount of time starting when they were created or released to the public, so the date would be crucial in determining the…
The song itself may or may not be protected, depending on whether it was renewed or not; as the only way to determine renewal status is to search the paper records at the Copyright Office, it's generally cheaper in the long run to assume it's still protected. A 1947 recording would be protected through February 15, 2067 at the earliest.
Limewire itself was released under a GNU General Public License, a "copyleft" style license used for free software distribution. Materials passing through Limewire may or may not be protected by their own copyrights or other licenses. That is to say, although it is possible to use Limewire to infringe copyright, it can also be used for legal sharing.