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#46: Carol of the Bells

Legend says that at the stroke of midnight on the evening when Jesus was born every bell on the earth began ringing joyously together. It is said there was never a sound quite like it. The song “Carol of the Bells” probably comes from that legend.

Traditionally, the song starts out soft and gets progressively louder as each voice adds tintinnabulation and then the song softly fades away. The tune for the song was written by Mykola Dmytrovich and was based on an old Ukrainian melody. The words that are used today were written by American composer Peter J. Wihousky, who grew up singing in Russian-American choirs. It was first performed in the Ukraine on the night of January 13, 1916, which on the Julian calendar is considered New Year’s Eve. In the United States the song was first performed on October 5, 1921 at Carnegie Hall.

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

Ding, dong, ding, dong
That is their song
With joyful ring
All caroling
One seems to hear
Words of good cheer
From ev’rywhere
Filling the air

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, on they send
On without end
Their joyful tone
To ev’ry home

Ding, dong, ding, dong.

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