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JIM ‘PAPPY’ MOORE: Hark! How the Bells!

By Jim “Pappy” Moore

As I drove this past weekend on a brilliant winter day, with the Sun commanding a flawless blue sky against the green foreground of pine trees, it made me remember this song and sing it with joy and zest. It reminded me once again of what a glorious world we live in.

It’s Christmastime, and no Christmas in America is complete without joining in the joyride of a Ukrainian song which has been performed by choruses and orchestras for over one hundred years. Because it is in the public domain there are many versions of it, with many different lyrics. It is also known as “Carol of the Bells.”

Growing up in East Texas, youngsters such as Lynda Wimp, Jan Rowin, Art Nelson and me learned it and sang it as Lufkin’s Mrs. Annabel Carter led us through its swirling verses.

The lyrics were written by Peter Wilhousky and the music by Mykola Leontovych in the early 1900s. This is an abbreviated version:

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

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

Ding, Dong, Ding, Dong

In the version we sang for Mrs. Carter, the song ended with
Ding, Dong, Ding, Dong

Basses sang the BOMMMMM, contrasting with the lovely sopranos, altos and tenors singing the staccato “Ding, Dong, Ding, Dong!” It was a rare time for basses to have the last word in a singing performance.

The version played by The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is the finest orchestral performance of the song. Jump into this for a winter ride.

Copyright 2022, Jim “Pappy” Moore. All rights reserved.

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