do you hear what i hear?

I think a ‘good day’ is a day when I’ve learned something new. There’s a nice feeling of   accomplishment that comes with a bit more knowledge. Plus, ya’ never know when some random fact or skill may come in handy. Need to know all the words to the musical “Little Shop of Horrors” or how to clear a drain using baking soda and cream of tartar? I’m your gal.

But this post isn’t about random things I know. It’s about Christmas! Specifically, Christmas music. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how important music is to life in general. It’s good for the soul and for the brain. It is a part of our history, our development and our emotions. Ever hear a song and instantly become flooded with “swooshes” of memories? When I was pregnant, I used to play music to my ever-growing belly. And I can clearly remember the peaceful beauty of the “La La Dee Doo” song from my kids’ international lullaby cd they listened to as a babies.

Christmas songs are no different. What’s your favorite? Do you like the new ones or the traditional ones? Instrumental or vocal? As for me, my favorite is “Do You Hear What I Hear?” I’ve always liked the build-up from its simplistic beginning into the majesty at the end. I like the thought of a ‘little shepherd boy’ whispering an important message to the ‘mighty king’ about another King.

Did you know that many Christmas tunes are worship songs? Of course as we get ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus, this makes sense. But did you also know that many Christmas songs are prayers as well? Such is the case for my favorite.

“Do You Hear What I Hear” was written in 1962 by songwriting couple Noel and Gloria Regney. Typically, Noel would write the music and his wife would write the lyrics. But in this case, they reversed their roles. Noel was walking the streets of New York, worrying about the current missile crisis between Russia and the United States. Noel had experienced World War II firsthand and he felt the current despair in the air.

It was the Christmas season and he had been asked to write a Christmas song. But how could he write a song to epitomize the joy of Christmas when all he was feeling was doom and gloom? On his way home, he spotted two mothers with their babies in strollers. The babies were smiling at each other. Noel thought they looked like two little lambs and he was inspired. As soon as he got home, he jotted down his lyrics and Gloria put the poetry to music. She has been quoted as saying, “Noel wrote a beautiful song and I wrote the music. We couldn’t sing it through; it broke us up. We cried. Our little song broke us up.”

Sometimes we sing the lyrics to a song without knowing what we’re really saying. Or maybe we only know the chorus, sing it loud and proud, but mumble the verses. Maybe we’re missing the point if we don’t listen closely. In an interview from 1985, when asked about “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Noel said, “I am amazed that people can think they know the song-and not know it is a prayer for peace. But we are so bombarded by sound and our attention spans are so short that we now listen only to catchy beginnings.”  Indeed.

“Listen to what I say. Pray for peace, people everywhere.”


Giving credit where it is due:

cd: ‘Lullabye: a collection”

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