Carol of the Bells
“Hark how the bells, sweet silver bells…”
The most popular Christmas carol of all time (we can dare say), was not originally a song for the holidays.
The haunting tune was written by Ukranian composer, Mukola Leontovich, in 1916. Named “Shchedryk,” the song was about a bird delivering a message of well-wishes to a family.
The song became popular in the Ukraine and other parts of the world, and made its’ way to the US, where it was performed at the Carnegia Hall on October 5, 1921.
American choir director and arranger Peter Wilhously, heard the song and immediately heard the sound of bells, thus sparking the idea to write new lyrics, which was copyrighted in 1936.
It’s one of the hardest and fastest tunes to sing during the holiday season, and usually requires a four-part harmony (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Bass).
Deck the Halls
“Hall” or “Halls?” Most carolers sing it plural and add a little decoration to it.
This merry song was originally a Welsh folk song, going way back to the16th century. It was actually for the New Year, not the Christmas holiday.
In 1862, it was published with English lyrics, provided by Scottish songwriter Thomas Oliphant. He kept in the “Fa la la la la la la la la!”
Hark! The Herald Angel Sings
“Hark! The herald angle sings! Glory to the newborn King!”
That was not the original lyric, which was first written by Charles Wesley. His student, George Whitfield made a few changes in 1753 and the rest is history for this beautiful Christmas carol.
What Child Is This?
Written by British poet William Chatterton Dix, “What Child Is This” was derived from a longer poem called ‘The Manger Song.”
A young salesman, Dix quickly fell ill and battled a deadly illness. During that time, he wrote several hymns and poems that resulted in a famous Christmas carol, celebrating the beautiful birth of Jesus.