Christmas Sheet Music – Carol of the Bells

By | December 10, 2021

Carol of the Bells

This amazing piece was written by the Ukrainian composer Mykola Dmytrovich Leontovich in 1916. (He originally graduated as a priest, for more information on him take a look at our Blog article, and we have over fifty arrangements of his music on our website).

We love the performance of Carol of the Bells on YouTube by the Fairfield County Children’s Choir it is truly wonderful.

The original song tells a story of a swallow flying into a household where he tells them of the bountiful year that they will encounter.

The song’s original name is “Shchedryk” taken from the Uranium word for bountiful, and is actually not a Christmas carol but New Year’s song. It is based on a traditional folk chant.  The language used was considered to have magical properties.

The chant is based on a four note pattern called an ostinato. It’s within the range of a minor third and is thought to have ancient origins associated with the coming of the New Year (prior to the introduction of Christianity in the Ukraine New year was clelebrated in April).

The Ukraniun Republic Capella made the song popular when it toured the West in 1920. This was directed by Oleksander Koshetz.  Peter J Wilhousky heard one of their performances and adapted it into an English Christmas Carol, ‘Carol of the Bells’.  He then copyrighted and published his new lyrics in 1936, they did not bare a similarlity to the original lyrics.  Following this the song became popular in the US and Canada and became associated with Christmas

Church Bells

The song reminded Wilhousky of beautiful ringing bells and he captured that imagery in this in his lyrics

Lyrics: Carol of the Bells v Shchedryk

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 the song
With joyful ring
All caroling (Oh, oh, ah)
One seems to hear
Words of good cheer
From everywhere (From everywhere)
Filling the air
Oh, how they pound (Oh, how they pound)
Raising their sound
O’er hill and dale
Telling their tale
Gaily they ring
While people sing songs of good cheer
Christmas is here
Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas
Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas
On on they send
On without end
Their joyful tone
To every home
Ah, ah, ah
Ding-dong, ding-dong
Ding-dong, ding-dong
Hark how the bells (Hark how the bells)
Sweet silver bells
All seem to say (All seem to say)
Throw cares away (We will throw cares away)
Christmas is here
Bringing good cheer
To young and old
Meek and the bold
Oh how they pound (Oh how they pound)
Raising their sound
O’er hill and dale
Telling their tale
Gaily they ring
While people sing songs of good cheer
Christmas is here
Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas
Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas
On on they send
On without end
Their joyful tone
To every home
Ah, ah, ah

Source: MusixmatchSongwriters: Peter Wilhousky / Mykola Leontovich

Bountiful evening, bountiful evening, a New Year’s carol;
A little swallow flew into the household
and started to twitter,
to summon the master:
“Come out, come out, O master,
look at the sheep pen,
there the ewes have given birth
and the lambkins have been born
Your goods [livestock] are great,
you will have a lot of money, by selling them.
If not money, then chaff from all the grain you will harvest
you have a dark-eyebrowed beautiful wife.”
Bountiful evening, bountiful evening, a New Year’s carol,
A little swallow flew.

Leave a Reply