Hark how the bells, sweet silver bells, all seem to say throw cares away. Christmas is here bringing good cheer to young and old, meek and the bold. Ding-dong, ding-dong, that is their song, with joyful ring all caroling…
This song was written in 1914 by Ukrainian composer, Mykola Leontovych, who based the melody on an old folk chant. And it was originally written with lyrics by Peter Wilhousky. However, far more often than not you will hear this song played without the lyrics.
For me this song brings back so many memories of my youth group’s handbell choir ringing a wonderful version of this carol that I have played far too many times to count.
In particular, there was this one performance for some group out in West County St. Louis, where we started on some ridiculously fast pace not set by our director (probably at least twice as fast as we were supposed to go). I can still see the look he gave us – what precisely do you think you’re doing? But there was no stopping the freight train at that point and somehow we did all stay together the entire song. And I think we ended up laughing at the end.
Somehow today is a good day. I am feeling good and smiling. The pain is not hitting as hard on my chest and I can breathe. So these memories of joy are something I crave. I want the laughter. I want the cheer. I want to enjoy the happy times we’ve had lo these many years.
That is the wonder of what music and the holidays can do for us. Yes, there are many times when they can bring back so many difficult and very hard things that we can barely muddle through. But there are also times that just the first few notes of a song can make us laugh out loud because of the things a certain song has seen.
I hope that you are able to find some of your own happy memories in the next few days and hold on to them. And I hope you are able to make a few new ones, too. I know I will be trying my hardest to do the same.
Oh, and speaking of happy memories, my other favorite version of this carol is from some very happy memories of getting to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. So check out what this guy did to his house to go with their version of the Carol of the Bells.