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December 2: Do You Hear What I Hear? December 2, 2010

Posted by contrapuntalplatypus in About Me, Advent Calendar of Carols, Language, Music, Saving the World.
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My family’s traditional “first” Christmas carol to sing around the Advent wreath is “The First Noel.” Though I like the words I can’t say I’m crazy about the tune: though nice enough, it’s pretty repetitive (each verse consists of two repetitions of the same phrase and the chorus is only a slight variation on that tune.) Instead, I’ve decided to feature another “shepherd” carol, a little hidden gem that’s rarely sung but I’ve always loved: Do You Hear What I Hear.

One of my favorite children’s books was “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” “Do You Hear What I Hear” has the same simple childlike appeal of back-and-forth question and answer, telling the Christmas story in simple yet compelling images: a star with a tail as big as a kite, a song with a voice as big as the sea, a child sleeping in the night who “will bring us goodness and light.” Beautiful and a refreshing contrast to the complex language of many carols. I didn’t know until I researched it tonight that the song was written in October 1962 as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis…a prayer still echoed by so many caught in the middle of conflict today. This is the most famous version, recorded in 1963 by Bing Crosby.

Said the night wind to the little lamb,
Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky, little lamb,
Do you see what I see?
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite,
With a tail as big as a kite.

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy,
Do you hear what I hear?
Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy,
Do you hear what I hear?
A song, a song high above the trees
With a voice as big as the sea,
With a voice as big as the sea.

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king,
Do you know what I know?
In your palace warm, mighty king,
Do you know what I know?
A Child, a Child shivers in the cold
Let us bring him silver and gold,
Let us bring him silver and gold.

Said the king to the people everywhere,
Listen to what I say!
Pray for peace, people, everywhere,
Listen to what I say!
The Child, the Child sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light,
He will bring us goodness and light.

Comments»

1. Kellie - December 6, 2010

I didn’t know that about the genesis of that song. It is truly magical.


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