Do You Hear What I Hear?

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"Do You Hear What I Hear?"
Music by Gloria Shayne Baker
Lyrics by Noël Regney
Written October 1962
Original artist Harry Simeone Chorale
Recorded by Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, Pat Boone, Mahalia Jackson, Whitney Houston, Jim Nabors, Kate Smith, John Tesh, Bob Hope, Glen Campbell, Robert Goulet, Kenny G, Kelly Rowland, the Hampton String Quartet, Eddie Fisher, Jack Jones, Andy Williams, Vanessa L. Williams, The Carpenters, Anne Murray, Gladys Knight, Copeland, David Arkenstone, Moya Brennan, Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, Delta Goodrem, Linda Eder, Diahann Carroll, Ed Ames, Flyleaf, Jim Brickman, Celine Dion, Anthony Way Lani Misalucha, Rosie O'Donnell, Third Day, Mannheim Steamroller, Kristin Chenoweth, Sufjan Stevens, Pink Martini, Bob Dylan, Larry Norman, Connie Talbot, Kristinia DeBarge, Vanessa Carlton, Theo Tams, Ali Slaight, Susan Boyle, William Beckett, Mary J. Blige, Jessie J

"Do You Hear What I Hear?" is a Christmas song written in October 1962, with lyrics by Noël Regney and music by Gloria Shayne Baker.[1] The pair, married at the time, wrote it as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis.[2] It has sold tens of millions of copies and has been covered by hundreds of artists.[2]

Songwriting[edit]

Noel Regney wrote the lyrics for the song, while Gloria Shayne composed the Christmas carol's music in October 1962.[2] This was an unusual arrangement for the two writers. Usually it was Shayne who wrote the lyrics for their songs while Regney composed the music, as they did when they wrote a song based on the classic children's song "Rain Rain Go Away".[1][2]

Regney was inspired to write the lyrics "Said the night wind to the little lamb, 'Do you see what I see?'" and "Pray for peace, people everywhere" after watching babies being pushed in strollers on the sidewalks of New York City.[1] Shayne stated in an interview years later that neither could personally perform the entire song at the time they wrote it because of the emotions surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis.[1] "Our little song broke us up. You must realize there was a threat of nuclear war at the time."[1]

Summary[edit]

The song describes how word of the birth of the baby Jesus is relayed to higher upon ever higher authority. The message originates with the night wind, which whispers it to a small lamb. The lamb reports the message to his shepherd boy, who in turn conveys the news to the mighty king. The king eventually spreads the message to the "people everywhere". In each verse, the message is slightly modified, in a similar fashion to the game of Telephone.

The song diverges from the Biblical account. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Herod the Great (king at the time), far from welcoming news of the child's birth, ordered Jesus killed, forcing Jesus and his parents Mary and Joseph to flee, although Matthew 2:8 says, "And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” At the same time, the lyrics do not specify that Herod is the king in question, nor that the events necessarily take place in Judea. Also, the gospel does not state that the shepherds saw a star, only the Magi.

Recording[edit]

"Do You Hear What I Hear?" was released shortly after Thanksgiving in 1962.[1] The song was originally recorded by the Harry Simeone Chorale,[1] a group which had also popularized "The Little Drummer Boy". It went on to sell more than a quarter-million copies during the 1962 Christmas holiday season.[1]

Bing Crosby made the song into a hit when he recorded his own version of it on October 21, 1963, with the record being released as a single on October 26. It was from his Warner Bros. Records album I Wish You a Merry Christmas. Crosby also performed the song on a Bob Hope Christmas television special on December 13 of that year. Over the years, Crosby's recording of the song has been widely played on the radio, and has been available on numerous compilation Christmas albums and compact discs put out by Capitol Records. It is perhaps the most often-heard version of the song.

The song was later recorded in diverse ways by hundreds of artists as varied as Heather Headley, Johnny Mathis,[2] Perry Como,[2] Pat Boone,[2] Mahalia Jackson,[2] Whitney Houston,[2] Jim Nabors,[2] Kate Smith,[2] John Tesh,[2] the United States Air Force Symphony Orchestra,[2] the Tropical Flavor Steel Drum Band,[2] Bob Hope,[2] Glen Campbell,[2] Robert Goulet,[2] Kenny G,[2] Kelly Rowland, the Hampton String Quartet, Eddie Fisher, Anita Bryant, Jack Jones, Andy Williams, Vanessa L. Williams, The Carpenters, Anne Murray, Gladys Knight, Copeland, David Arkenstone, Moya Brennan, Debbie McGee, Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, Delta Goodrem, Linda Eder, Diahann Carroll, Ed Ames, Flyleaf, Jim Brickman, Celine Dion, Anthony Way Lani Misalucha, Rosie O'Donnell (with special guest Elmo), Third Day, Mannheim Steamroller, Bobby Lloyd and the Skeletons (as a medley with the rock classic "You Really Got Me"), Kristin Chenoweth, Sufjan Stevens, Pink Martini, Bob Dylan, Larry Norman, Connie Talbot (2008 and 2009), Kristinia DeBarge, Vanessa Carlton, Theo Tams, former Celtic Woman members Órla Fallon & Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, Susan Boyle, the Broadway Cast of American Idiot for BCEFA's Carols for a Cure (Volume 12), South African singer Jo Day [3] Minimum Wage for Christmas Gone Wrong on Drive-Thru Records, and arranged by René Clausen, The Concordia Choir, The Glee Project contestants Lindsay Pearce and Alex Newell for Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album Volume 2. In 2011 JLS sampled the song for their single "Do You Feel What I Feel?", William Beckett on Punk Goes Christmas. This song is also covered by Elmo from Sesame Street and Alicia Keys when she finds him sitting alone and convinces him never to give up hope. In this version, the words are slightly different.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Noland, Claire (2008-03-15). "Gloria Shayne Baker, 84; helped write 'Do You Hear What I Hear?'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2008-03-27. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Fox, Margalit (2008-03-11). "Gloria Shayne Baker, Composer and Lyricist, Dies at 84". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  3. ^ http://www.rock.co.za/legends/2000plus/santa.html Retrieved 15 October 2013