23 December 2012

Ring, Christmas Bells

Many no doubt are familiar with the Christmas tune known as the "Carol of the Bells." Upbeat and light, it seems to exude the anticipation of the season. The song has an interesting history, though, of which most likely are unaware.

Also known as the Ukranian Bell Carol, this song originally was written in 1916 by Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych and was entitled "Shchedryk." The song in its original form had nothing to do with Christmas. Written to celebrate the coming new year (which at that time in the Ukraine was celebrated on 13 January), the original lyrics tell "a story of a swallow flying into a household to sing of wealth that will come with the following spring."1 In the 1930s, Peter Wilhousky altered the lyrics to what commonly is heard today when "Carol of the Bells" is sung during the Christmas season. In 1947, Minna Louise Hohman composed more "nativity-based" lyrics, and that version of the song (which happens to be this writer's favorite) is commonly known as "Ring, Christmas Bells."2 Enjoy.



And just for fun...


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Footnotes:
1. http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/carol_of_the_bells_notes.htm, accessed 22 December 2012.

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carol_of_the_Bells, accessed 22 December 2012.

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