Blog Caroling: Carol of the Bells

In case you haven’t noticed, “Tis the season to be jolly” and footnoteMaven has sent out the call for everyone to blog about their favourite Christmas Carol.

Many years ago, I used to sing alto in my work’s choir. I was never a great singer and I couldn’t read music, but in a largish choir, it wasn’t so noticeable and I was pretty good at pitching my voice to the singer next to me.

We managed to get enough men to be able to have the full quartet of voices – alto, soprano, tenor and bass. The sopranos, of course, were the stars and the altos were the workhorses but without us, the sopranos would never have sounded so wonderful. 😉

The choir gave two performances a year. One, of course, being at Christmas. The choir introduced me to a number of Christmas songs that I’d never heard before.

My favourite Christmas carol has to be Carol of the Bells. 

Wikipedia says that the original was composed in 1914 by a Ukrainian composer, Mykola Leontovych and was based on a Ukrainian folk chant called “Shchedryk”. The song evolved into a Christmas carol in 1936 when Peter J. Wilhousky rearranged the melody and wrote new lyrics which begin with “Hark! How the bells”. These new lyrics revolve around ringing bells because the music reminded Wilhousky of hand bells. There are other versions with different lyrics so you may know the same music under the name Ring, Christmas Bells.

Our choir sang Wilhousky’s “Hark! How the bells” version.

Since the lyrics are still under copyright, though the music is not, I won’t print the lyrics but you can read them here.

Carol of the Bells is my favourite mainly because it is incredibly satisfying to sing as part of a choir. It was originally designed to be sung as a four part harmony. When all those parts come together and harmonise, it raises the hairs on the back of my neck and gives me tingles down my spine. Singing this carol fills me with joy and Christmas Spirit.

I’ve found a version of this carol which gives me the same feeling listening to the song as it gave me while singing it. This version is, of course, much much better than our amateur choir attempts. I hope you’ll like the carol as much as I do.

Without further ado, here is the link to:

* Carol of the Bells *

— as sung beautifully by Libera, an all boys choir.

Wishing everyone a bright and beautiful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

Images:

Christmas Cats
Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. (1911). Merry Christmas. Retrieved on 20 December 2017 from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-6737-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Christmas Bells
Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. (ca. 190-). A Merry Christmas. Retrieved on 20 December 2017 from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-663e-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Christmas Flowers
Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. Christmas greetings. Retrieved on 20 December 2017 from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-5a34-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Christmas Mistletoe
Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. Merry Christmas. Retrieved on 20 December 2017 from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-69ae-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

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This entry was posted in Genealogy, Memories and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Blog Caroling: Carol of the Bells

  1. Love your comment about singing alto in a largish choir. I’m sure you were great.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence, Laura. But who could really tell in that largish choir? 🙂 Get me on my own and my pitch is all over the place. But it was so much fun singing in a choir. And amazingly cathartic – I always felt great after rehearsals.

      Like

  2. Wendy says:

    I play handbells, and this is a FUN song to play. You really have to count AND feel that rhythm to play bells that fast.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. amecoy75002 says:

    Beautiful post, love the postcards. I featured “O Holy Night” on my caroling post. Thanks for participating in this fun party.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! The cards were so lovely, I couldn’t resist putting in a few extra! I just listened to the Kings College AND the Celtic Woman / Chloe Agnew versions of “O Holy Night” and it is indeed a very lovely carol. I’m off to read your blog post now!

      Like

  4. Nancy says:

    Oh my gosh, those boys’ singing is fabulous! Thanks so much for sharing this carol and the link to the video. I hope you had a Merry Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love, love, love Carol of the Bells!!! I don’t know if I’ve ever heard it with all of the designated propper harmonies… When the guy leaves for work, I will have a listen to the link you shared!

    Liked by 1 person

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