Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, be plenteous in mercy is to have the real spirit of Christmas. Calvin Coolidge.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Carol of the Bells

This very popular Christmas carol is an adaptation of the "Shchedryk" by Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych, which in December 1916 was performed at the Kiev University by the students for the first time. It was a part of the Ukrainian National Chorus repertoire during its 1,000-plus concert tour around Europe and the Americas. American audiences were first introduced to the song at Carnegie Hall on October 5, 1921.
Origin Of The Song 
This Ukrainian folk song was originally written as a song, wishing people well for the winter. Shchedryk is a delightful song that narrates the story of a swallow flying into a household to announce how the family will have a prosperous New Year. Shchedryk means bountiful in Ukrainian. The song is sung on the eve of the Julian New Year celebrated on January 13 th in Ukraine. One popular (but inaccurate) interpretation is that the original Ukrainian song is based on an old Slavic legend that every bell in the world rang in honor of Jesus on the night of His birth. It is somewhat unusual among Christmas carols for its minor key, fast pace and brevity.

Carol of The Bells In Popular Culture 
In 1936, Peter Wilhousky who at that time worked with NBC radio, wrote the English language lyrics of the song. He is particularly remembered for capturing the imagery of ringing bells in his soulful lyrics. The advertising world has made use of the carol a number of times, and parodies appear with regularity on such shows as the Family Guy and Saturday Night Live. One of the most memorable mentions in popular culture would have to be in the movie Home Alone 2: Lost in New York the child makes a trap to snare the thieves. Thanks to the reference to Silver bells, caroling and the words ‘merry, merry, merry Christmas', the carol has come to be associated with Christmas. No Doubt now though, that the song is one of the most popular Christmas songs ever, one can judge by the number of American recordings alone.

Carol Of The Bells Lyrics

Hark how the bells,
sweet silver bells,
all seem to say,
throw cares away

Christmas is here,
bringing good cheer,
to young and old,
meek and the bold,

Oh how they pound,
raising the sound,
o'er hill and dale,
telling their tale,

Gaily they ring
while people sing
songs of good cheer,
Christmas is here,


Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas,
Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas,
on they send,
on without end,
their joyful tone to every home
Dong Ding dong ding, dong Bong


8 comments:

  1. Parodies

    The song is the basis of an infamous internet meme popularly known as "Ding Fries are Done," in which a Burger King employee uses the tune to sing a song about how he works at Burger King, makes French fries and wears paper hats. This parody was recreated in the Family Guy episode "Deep Throats" during a cutaway scene in which Peter Griffin takes the role of the Burger King employee.
    "Carol of the Bells" was also parodied in another Family Guy episode, "Perfect Castaway," as one of the featured songs on Peter's prospective Christmas album.
    Mr. Mackey from South Park sang a multi-part (overdubbed), a cappella version of the carol in the episode "Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics." In Mr. Mackey's version, he inserts his catch phrase by changing "All seem to say/Throw cares away" to "All seem to say/Ding dong m'kay."
    Guster parodied the song on the 2004 single "Carol of the Meows," replacing the lyrics with simulated cat noises.
    "The Carol of the Old Ones", a parody about how the Great Old Ones will return to claim Earth.

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  2. Notable performances

    Richard Carpenter played piano in an orchestral version arranged by Peter Knight on the Carpenters Christmas Portrait album released in October 1978.
    Chip Davis and his band Mannheim Steamroller recorded an original arrangement released on their album A Fresh Aire Christmas in 1988. Recording label: American Gramaphone.
    George Winston played solo piano on his December album/CD in the late 1980s, acknowledging it as a traditional Ukranian song.
    Canadian musician and composer/songwriter David Foster composed and performed his own version for the NBC Christmas special "David Foster's Christmas Album" on December 10, 1993 to promote "The Christmas Album", both of which featured other Grammy-award winning performers.
    Savatage and side project The Trans-Siberian Orchestra have done a popular remake entitled "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo (12/24)" that plays on many radio stations around Christmas.
    French pop music icon Charles Aznavour, Norwegian crossover soprano Sissel Kyrkjebø, and Spanish operatic tenor Plácido Domingo recorded Carol of the Bells together at the third Christmas in Vienna concert on December 22, 1994.
    The version with Minna Louise Hohman's 1947 lyrics has been recorded by the Ray Conniff Singers, Andy Williams and Julie Andrews with The Treorchy Male Choir [1], among others.
    At holiday season concerts, the folk-rock group Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams usually performs a version of their song "Slambovia" which is intertwined with the tune of "Carol of the Bells." This version was released on their live "Bootleg Series" album The Christmas Show 2004.
    Irish singer Moya Brennan recorded a version for her Celtic-themed Christmas album, An Irish Christmas
    The song is featured on X-mas In Hell By Sixx:A.M. on the album "The Heroin Diaries."
    The song has also been played as an instrumental by the progressive metalcore band August Burns Red, which was originally recorded for the X Christmas compilation, but was re-released on their b-sides EP Lost Messengers: The Outtakes.
    John Fahey, American musicologist, guitarist performed on Tahoma Records "Christmas wit John Fahey"Volume II[Tahoma4XF72745]
    Celtic Woman performed this song live at the Helix Center in Dublin, Ireland for a Christmas celebration.
    John Tesh charted the song. Billboard Adult Contemporary survey, 1997.
    John Williams included this piece and made his own version of it. It is on the Home Alone soundtrack, along with other 18 entries, that consists of his original score and other Christmas songs. It was released by Sony Music Entertainment in 1990.
    It was sung by a chorus as the opening to the first Santa Clause movie.
    Jennifer Hudson sang the song on Elmo's Christmas Countdown in December 2007
    Gary Hoey performed a guitar driven instrumental of this song, along with numerous other Christmas songs, in his Ho! Ho! Hoey series of albums.
    Family Force 5's Christmas Pageant album features a version of this song.
    Dream Theater have been known to quote the main theme of the song in certain live performances of "The Killing Hand", as can be heard on the Hollow Years single, and the "Bucharest, Romania 7/4/02" official bootleg.

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  3. Probably the most well known Ukrainian song outside of its native land, the frequently recorded Christmas piece, Carol of the Bells, began as a Ukrainian New Year's Eve song, a shchedrivka.

    There is a charming old Slavic legend that at midnight, when Jesus was born, all the bells on earth started to ring of their own accord. It's been written that this legend was brought to life when, just 20 years after the composition of "Shchedryk," composer, lyricist and conductor Peter J. Wilhousky adapted Leontovych's music, and added new English lyrics (unrelated in theme to the original). This version has become a staple of the holiday repertoire; it's catchy tune was, at one time, employed in a series of TV advertisements for champagne, according to William Studwell. The "Earthly Delights" website noted that Wilhousky was of Czech background, and grew up singing in Russian-American choirs; in addition, he made many translations and arrangements of Slavic music.

    When performed, "Carol of the Bells" usually begins quietly, and grows louder and louder as each voice is added, and at the end fades to a pianissimo.

    At least three other Christmas songs have also been based on Leontovych's original work. Two are noted below (versions 2 and 3). I have been unable to locate the lyrics to the fourth, "Come, Dance and Sing"

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  4. Recordings

    (Chronological growth in popularity)

    (2001) Destiny's Child performed a slow-paced version of the song under the name "Opera of the Bells"
    (2002) Dream Theater have been known to quote the main theme of the song in certain live performances of "The Killing Hand", as can be heard on the "Hollow Years" single, and the Bucharest, Romania 7/4/02 official bootleg.
    The Calling recorded a version available on the compilation Holiday 'Sounds of the Season'
    (2003) moe (band) recorded a version on their "Season's Greetings from moe." CD
    (2004) At holiday season concerts, the folk-rock group Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams usually performs a version of their song "Slambovia" which is intertwined with the tune of "Carol of the Bells". This version was released on their live "Bootleg Series" album The Christmas Show 2004.
    (2005) Krypteria included a piano version in their album "In Medias Res"
    (2006) Irish singer Moya Brennan recorded a version for her Celtic-themed Christmas album, An Irish Christmas (2006)
    (2007) Jennifer Hudson sang the song on Elmo's Christmas Countdown in December 2007
    Emmy Rossum recorded an Extended Play (EP) album of Christmas songs for Geffen Records including an electronically enhanced pop version of the song with the English lyrics by Peter J. Wilhousky.
    (2009) Family Force 5's Christmas Pageant album (2009) features a version of this song.
    Hayley Westenra recorded the song for her album Winter Magic, released in 2009. She did her own voice accompaniments in parts of the song, rather than using a backing choir or other background singers.
    (2010) Jessica Simpson has also recorded a version of the song on her 2010 Christmas album Happy Christmas.[6]
    Pink Martini recorded a version of "Shchedryk (Carol of the Bells)" for the album Joy to the World[7]
    Enter Shikari used the song to open their Christmas Eve show in Hatfield, UK on December 24, 2010. The song was cut off midway through, only to come back in with the band playing a dubstep remix. The recording is found on their Live from Planet Earth DVD/CD set.
    (2011) David Crowder Band covered the The Trans-Siberian Orchestra version on Oh for Joy.
    (2012) Pentatonix recorded an acapella version on their Christmas album PTXmas.
    The band August Burns Red has recorded a version of the song and performs it at their Christmas show every year.

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  5. I'll just refresh it)

    The music from Carol of the Bells was featured in the movies Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York directed by Chris Columbus. These famous Christmas comedy movies use the song as the young hero Kevin McCallister, played by Macaulay Culkin, is unintentionally left 'Home Alone' at Christmas by his family. The Home Alone Carol of the Bells music is used when young Kevin sets amazing and hilarious traps to capture the inept and stupid thieves Harry Lime (played by Joe Pesci ) and Marv Merchants (played by Daniel Stern). Next time you watch the movie listen to this popular Christmas music.

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  6. Although "Carol of the Bells" has become a popular tune during the holidays, the original lyrics had nothing to do with Christmas. The song with a haunting four-note melody was originally a Ukranian folk song written as a "winter well-wishing song," said Anthony Potoczniak, a Rice University anthropology graduate student who is studying the song's history.

    Written in 1916 by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovich and titled "Shchedryk," the song tells the tale of a swallow flying into a household to proclaim the plentiful year that the family will have. The song's title is derived from the Ukrainian word "shchedryj," which means "bountiful."

    "The swallow is a herald of spring coming," Potoczniak said, referring to its possible pre-Christian origins. The original lyrics describe the swallow calling out to the master of the home and telling him about all the wealth that he will possess -- healthy livestock, money and a beautiful wife.

    For a Christmas concert, a choir director by the name of Oleksander Koshyts commissioned Leontovich to write a song based on Ukrainian folk melodies. Using the four notes and original folk lyrics of a well-wishing song he found in an anthology of Ukrainian folk melodies, Leontovich created a completely new work for choir – "Shchedryk."

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  7. The music from Carol of the Bells was featured in the movies Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York directed by Chris Columbus. These famous Christmas comedy movies use the song as the young hero Kevin McCallister, played by Macaulay Culkin, is unintentionally left 'Home Alone' at Christmas by his family. The Home Alone Carol of the Bells music is used when young Kevin sets amazing and hilarious traps to capture the inept and stupid thieves Harry Lime (played by Joe Pesci ) and Marv Merchants (played by Daniel Ster)



    ReplyDelete