Do You Hear What I Hear?
|"Do You Hear What I Hear?"|
|Song by Harry Simeone|
"Do You Hear What I Hear?" is a song written in October 1962, with lyrics by Noël Regney and music by Gloria Shayne. The pair, married at the time, wrote it as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Regney had been invited by a record producer to write a Christmas song, but he was hesitant due to the commercialism of Christmas. It has sold tens of millions of copies and has been covered by hundreds of artists.
"Do You Hear What I Hear?" tells a story loosely based upon the story of the nativity of Jesus as told in the Gospel of Matthew, incorporating fragments of the annunciation to the shepherds from the Gospel of Luke, though Jesus is never mentioned by name or explicitly identified. A "night wind" tells a lamb of a star, following which the lamb tells his young shepherd that he also hears a loud song. They are each led to a "mighty king," whom they tell of a child in the cold and ask to bring the child silver and gold (much as the Biblical Magi, which in tradition with prophecies in the Book of Isaiah and Psalm 72 are often characterized as kings, did with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh). The king proclaims a prayer of peace and announces that the child will "bring goodness and light."
The lyrics are inconsistent with the response of Herod the Great, the reigning monarch over the region at the time, who feared the arrival of a new "king of the Jews" and ordered the child massacred. The Magi did not receive word of Christ's birth from the shepherds (who instead went directly to Bethlehem), but by noticing an astrological event, interpreting it as a new Jewish king, and going to Jerusalem, where Herod informed them of Old Testament prophecies and pointed them toward Bethlehem.
Regney wrote the lyrics for the song, while Shayne composed the music in October 1962. 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".
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. 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. "Our little song broke us up. You must realize there was a threat of war at the time."
Recordings and versions
"Do You Hear What I Hear?" was released shortly after Thanksgiving in 1962. The song was originally recorded for Mercury Records by the Harry Simeone Chorale, a group which had also popularized "The Little Drummer Boy"; and it was released as part of the album "The Wonderful Songs Of Christmas With The Harry Simeone Chorale". As a 45 rpm single, it went on to sell more than a quarter-million copies during the 1962 Christmas holiday season.
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. 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.
The song was later recorded in diverse ways by hundreds of artists including:
- Jack Jones (1964 - The Jack Jones Christmas Album)
- Eddie Fisher (1965 - Mary Christmas)
- Andy Williams (1965 - Merry Christmas)
- Pat Boone (1966 - Christmas is a Comin')
- The Joystrings (1966 - Well Seasoned)
- Kate Smith (1966 - The Kate Smith Christmas Album)
- Ed Ames (1967 - Christmas with Ed Ames)
- Anita Bryant (1967 - Christmas with Anita Bryant)
- Diahann Carroll (1967)
(appears on various artists' 1995 holiday album Christmas Encore!)
- Jim Nabors (1967 - Jim Nabors' Christmas Album)
- Perry Como (1968 - The Perry Como Christmas Album)
- Robert Goulet
(1968 - Robert Goulet's Wonderful World of Christmas)
- Mahalia Jackson (1968 - Christmas with Mahalia)
- Johnny Mathis (1969 - Give Me Your Love for Christmas)
- Gladys Knight & the Pips (1975 - Bless This House)
- The Carpenters (1984 - An Old-Fashioned Christmas)
- Hampton String Quartet (1986)
(What if Mozart Wrote Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas)
- Whitney Houston (1987)
(for the Special Olympics benefit album A Very Special Christmas This version skips the first verse)
- Anne Murray (1988 - Anne Murray Christmas)
- Jose Mari Chan (1990 - Christmas in Our Hearts)
- Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers (1990 - Christmas with The Gatlins)
- Vince Gill (1993 - Let There Be Peace on Earth)
- Bob Hope & Dolores Hope (1993 - Hopes for the Holidays)
- John Tesh (1994 - The Choirs of Christmas)
- La Bouche (1994 - Bravo Dance X-Mas)
- Glen Campbell (1995 - Christmas with Glen Campbell)
- Patti LaBelle (1995 - for a Washington, DC Christmas Musical)
(2007 - Miss Patti's Christmas)
- David Arkenstone (1997 - Enchantment: A Magical Christmas)
- Minimum Wage (1997 - from various artists' holiday album A Punk & Ska Christmas Gone Wrong)
- United States Air Force Symphony Orchestra
(1997 - This Is Christmas)
- Anthony Way (1997 - The Choirboy's Christmas)
(with St. Paul's Cathedral Choir & English Chamber Orchestra)
- Rosie O'Donnell with Elmo (1999 - A Rosie Christmas)
- Martina McBride (1999 - White Christmas)
- Linda Eder with The Broadway Gospel Choir
(2000 - Christmas Stays the Same)
- Kelly Rowland
(2001 - from the Destiny's Child album 8 Days of Christmas)
- Mannheim Steamroller (2001 - Christmas Extraordinaire)
- Kirk Whalum (2001 - The Christmas Message)
- Tropical Flavor Steel Drum Band (2001 - Island Christmas)
- South African singer Jo Day
(2002 - for various artists' holiday album The Santa Sessions)
- Kenny G (2002 - Wishes: A Holiday Album)
- Delta Goodrem
(2002 - for the holiday compilation album The Spirit of Christmas 2002)
- Jim Brickman (2003 - Peace)
- Larry Norman
(2003 - Christmastime: The Day that a Child Appeared)
(as "Do You See What I See")
(2004 - for the holiday compilation album Maybe This Christmas Tree)
- Flyleaf (2005 - Do You Hear What I Hear)
- Third Day (2006 - Christmas Offerings)
- Patti LaBelle, 2007 Miss Patti Christmas.
- Alicia Keys with Elmo (2007 - Elmo's Christmas Countdown This version skips the third verse)
- Carrie Underwood
(2008 - Walmart holiday edition of her album Carnival Ride)
- Johnny Cash (recording date unknown, released 2008)
- Kristin Chenoweth (2008 - A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas)
- Heather Headley (2008 - Do You Hear What I Hear)
- Lani Misalucha (2008 - The Gift of Christmas)
- Connie Talbot (2008 - Connie Talbot's Christmas Album)
(2009 - Connie Talbot's Holiday Magic)
- Kristinia DeBarge (2009)
(for the Special Olympics holiday album A Very Special Christmas 7)
- Bob Dylan (2009 - Christmas in the Heart)
- Ali Slaight and Theo Tams (2009)
- Joey McIntyre (2009) from the album Come Home for Christmas
- Susan Boyle with Amber Stassi
(2010 - from Susan Boyle's album The Gift)
- Pink Martini (2010 - Joy to the World)
- Vanessa Carlton (2011 - Hear the Bells)
- Sufjan Stevens (2012 - Silver & Gold)
- Jewel_(singer) (2013 - Let It Snow: A Holiday Collection)
- William Beckett
(2013 - for the holiday compilation album Punk Goes Christmas)
- Annie Haslam (2014 - for the Christmas album Snowball with Rave Tesar)
- Idina Menzel (2014 - Holiday Wishes)
- Home Free Vocal Band (2014 - Full of Cheer ; 2016 - Full of (Even More) Cheer)
- Belinda Carlisle (2015 - Silver Bells b/w Do You Hear What I Hear internet-only single)
- Jackie Evancho (2016 - Someday at Christmas)
- Pentatonix and Whitney Houston (2019 - The Best of Pentatonix Christmas)
- Arlissa (2019 - Arlissa)
Use in a medley with other songs
- Bobby Lloyd & The Skeletons (1990 - Christmas Party with Eddie G.)(performed as a medley with the rock classic "You Really Got Me")
- Vanessa Williams (1996 - Star Bright) (performed in a medley with "Little Drummer Boy")
- Moya Brennan (2005 - An Irish Christmas) (in medley with "Don oiche...")
Regney said that his favorite version of the song was performed by Robert Goulet: as The New York Times noted, when the singer came to the line "pray for peace, people everywhere," he "almost shouted the words." 
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- Do You Hear What I Hear? lyrics at MetroLyrics, retrieved September 28, 2019
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- Fisher, Eddie. "Mary Christmas". Dot Records. 1965. http://www.allmusic.com/album/mary-christmas-mw0001263978
- Smith, Kate. "The Kate Smith Christmas Album". RCA/Sony Music Distribution. 28 November 1966. http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-kate-smith-christmas-album-mw0000613874
- Carroll, Diahann. "Discography". Diahann! http://www.diahann-carroll.com/discography/misc1.html
- Various Artists. "Christmas Encore". Legacy/Sony Music Distribution. 15 August 1995. http://www.allmusic.com/album/christmas-encore-mw0000176602
- Perry Como with The Ray Charles Singers. "The Perry Como Christmas Album". Kokomo/RCA Victor. Mid-Late August 1968. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-02. Retrieved 2010-05-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Jackson, Mahalia. "Christmas with Mahalia". Columbia/Sony Music Distribution. 1968. http://www.allmusic.com/album/christmas-with-mahalia-columbia-mw0002348379
- Gladys Knight & the Pips Cover of Harry Simeone Chorale's "Do You Hear What I Hear". WhoSampled.com. http://www.whosampled.com/cover/193975/Gladys-Knight-%26-the-Pips-Do-You-Hear-What-I-Hear%3F-The-Harry-Simeone-Chorale-Do-You-Hear-What-I-Hear%3F/
- Hampton String Quartet. "Do You Hear What I Hear". YouTube: Hampton String Quartet-Topic. 25 February 2015. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kR04NONU5IU
- Murray, Anne. "Do You Hear What I Hear". YouTube: Anne Murray-Topic. 8 November 2014. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AKsZT2hQwpo
- Bob Hope & Dolores Hope. "Hopes for the Holidays". Hope Enterprises, Inc. 1993. https://www.amazon.com/Hopes-Holidays-Bob-Dolores-Hope/dp/B000MOSAEM
- LaBelle, Patti. "Do You Hear What I Hear...". YouTube: House of Black Music. 5 January 2017. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=i5GP2BvenaQ
- Arkenstone, David. "Enchantment: A Magical Christmas". Narada. 9 September 1997. http://www.allmusic.com/album/enchantment-a-magical-christmas-mw0000029953
- United States Air Force Symphony Orchestra. "This Is Christmas". Altissimo. 23 September 1997. http://www.allmusic.com/album/this-is-christmas!-mw0000394012
- Anthony Way with St. Paul's Cathedral Choir. "Do You Hear What I Hear". YouTube: Maureen Ruiz. 24 December 2009. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Kx4GGKxmcuk
- Choir of King's College Cambridge. "The Ultimate Carol Collection". Decca Classics. 10 November 1997. http://www.deccaclassics.com/us/cat/4588632
- Rosie O'Donnell and Elmo Cover of Harry Simeone Chorale's "Do You Hear What I Hear". WhoSampled.com. http://www.whosampled.com/cover/73918/Elmo-Rosie-O%27donnell-Do-You-Hear-What-I-Hear%3F-The-Harry-Simeone-Chorale-Do-You-Hear-What-I-Hear%3F/
- Linda Eder and The Broadway Gospel Choir. "Do You Hear What I Hear". Second Hand Songs. 2000. https://secondhandsongs.com/performance/507153/versions
- Tropical Flavor Steel Drum Band. "Do You Hear What I Hear". YouTube: T.F.S.D.B.-Topic. 14 October 2015. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=i7g7GgYuiss
- Horn, Tracy. "Various Artists - 5fm Presents The Santa Sessions". November 2002. http://www.rock.co.za/legends/2000plus/santa.html Retrieved 15 October 2013.
- Flyleaf. "Do You Hear What I Hear". Octone. 2005. https://www.christianrock.net/songs/Do_You_Hear_What_I_Hear__by__Flyleaf
- "A Country Christmas". Toronto Public Library. 2008. Retrieved 2015-12-24.
- Headley, Heather. “Do You Hear What I Hear”. YouTube: Heather Headley-Topic. 13 March 2014. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rysBIoluNN0
- Misalucha, Lani. “The Gift of Christmas”. Universal Records. November 2008. http://regalo7107.com/?pid=1579829 Archived 2017-01-13 at the Wayback Machine
- McIntyre invites New Kids fans to “Come Home for Christmas”. Sean's Space on blogspot on The Poughkeepsie Journal, 8 December 2011.
- Vanessa Carlton Cover of Harry Simeone Chorale's “Do You Hear What I Hear”. WhoSampled.com. http://www.whosampled.com/cover/129887/Vanessa-Carlton-Do-You-Hear-What-I-Hear%3F-The-Harry-Simeone-Chorale-Do-You-Hear-What-I-Hear%3F/
- "Do You Hear What I Hear?". YouTube. October 25, 2019. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
- "Do You Hear What I Hear?". YouTube. November 27, 2019. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
- Douglas Martin: Noel Regney, Songwriter Known for ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’ Is Dead at 80. NYTimes.com, December 1, 2012, last access Dec. 25, 2017.