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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Carol of the Bells

How is it that we are just two weeks until Christmas Day?  On one hand, I'm sure that many are thrilled because that means it's not long before we say goodbye to the year that most of us didn't care for.

But on the other hand, if you haven't finished your holiday shopping and preparations, you've only got two weeks to get everything ready!  Yeah, that's not too much pressure, is it?

Fortunately, all my required shopping was done the day before Black Friday, so that it allows me more time to come up with subjects for the

And for Day #11, we have another musical interlude for you all.

Last week, I chose a song that was more contemporary.  This time around, I'll be choosing a song that is traditional.  It's a song that was composed all the way back in 1914, and over the years has been performed by dozens of orchestras all over the world. 

It's a song that has been covered by a slew of artists in a lot of different styles, and I have my own personal favourite version.  Would you like to watch a clip of it?  Here you go!

Okay, okay...I know.  It's an extremely silly version of the "Carol of the Bells".  I couldn't resist posting it.  It's from "A Claymation Christmas", which is one of my favourite Christmas specials of all time!  It took me forever to find it on DVD, and it's the only way I can watch it now as it doesn't air on television now. 

But "Carol of the Bells" is one of those songs that certainly is played during the holiday season quite a lot.  I think I hear it played at my workplace half a dozen times a day this time of year, but for some reason I don't get as annoyed by this one as I do most Christmas songs.

But did you know the history behind the creation of the "Carol of the Bells"?

Well, as I mentioned before, the song was composed back in 1914.  And the country of origin of this song happens to be the Ukraine.  The composer was a man by the name of Mykola Leontovych and the song was loosely based on a Ukrainian folk chant - "Shchedryk".

"Shchedryk" was a chant that was associated with the arrival of the New Year which at that time was celebrated with the arrival of Spring in the month of April - at least that was the case in pre-Christian Ukraine.  When Christianity was introduced to the Ukraine and the Julian calendar was adopted by the country, the New Year celebrations were moved to January, and the song soon became associated with Christmas.

First performed at Kiev University in December 2016 (one hundred years ago this month!) by students of the school, the song was considered a flash in the pan of sorts.  It was well-received when it was first performed but when the Ukraine became a part of the Soviet Union, it died off in popularity rather quickly.  It wouldn't be until 1921 that people in the Western hemisphere would get a chance to listen to the "Carol of the Bells" when the Ukrainian National Chorus went on tour and performed the song at Carnegie Hall.

English lyrics of the song were later added by lyricist Peter J. Wilhousky in the 1930s - and let's just say that thanks to his lyrics, the song basically just screams Christmas.

I mean, one of the lines is merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas!  Isn't that just merry?

But you know...this is probably one of the few songs that I could probably listen to almost any version (the other one being "O Holy Night") and not want to decapitate a I guess that's part of the reason why I wanted to do a spotlight on this song.

Ding dong ding dong...

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