Do You Hear What I Hear?

Album: I Wish You a Merry Christmas (1963)

Songfacts®:

  • Married couple Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne Baker penned this Christmas carol in October 1962. Generally it was Baker who wrote the lyrics for their songs while Regney composed the music, but in this instance it was the other way around.
  • Regney's lyrics are a plea for peace, and they were written during the Cuban Missile Crisis when the USSR was spotted constructing bases for ballistic nuclear missiles in Cuba. These weapons had the ability to strike most of the continental United States and a confrontation was only averted when they were dismantled at the US president's insistence. Baker stated in an interview with the Los Angeles Times years later that neither could personally perform the entire song at the time they wrote it because of the emotions surrounding the incident. "Our little song broke us up. You must realize there was a threat of nuclear war at the time."
  • The song has sold tens of millions of copies and has been covered by hundreds of different artists. It was originally recorded by the Harry Simeone Chorale and their version went on to sell more than quarter-million copies during the 1962 Christmas holiday season.
  • It was Bing Crosby who made the song a worldwide smash hit when he recorded his own version of it for his I Wish You a Merry Christmas album in 1963. Ironically, Crosby laid down his vocals on November 22, 1963, the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
  • Susan Boyle recorded a version of the carol for her 2010 album, The Gift. The Scottish singer's rendition is a duet with Amber Stassi, a 33-year-old New York paramedic who was winner of Susan's Search online talent contest, in which applicants recorded a video of themselves singing Silent Night and uploaded it to her YouTube channel.
  • Bob Dylan did a croaking, raspy version of this song on his 2009 Christmas in the Heart album. He switched up most the covers on the album to suit his personal style, but he sang this one in the traditional form, which is about as poorly suited to his 68-year-old voice as a song could be.

Comments: 6

  • Mark from Tupelo, MsMike in Jackson, TN... you're a wet blanket. You must be thinking of another song. Regney and Shayne wrote the song in 1962. His song writing credits are well documented, easily verified. You should check your facts before you discredit someone. Here's a slightly more credible resource.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/01/nyregion/noel-regney-songwriter-known-for-do-you-hear-what-i-hear-is-dead-at-80.html
  • Mike from Jackson, TnI don't want to be a wet blanket, but I think this song was around before 1962--as early as the 1940's. I think the Trapp Family Singers sang a version, then the Harry Simeone chorale, both in the 50's, and it wasn't original with them. Wikipedia, never a secure authority, says it was taken from a Czech carol in 1941 by noted choral writer Katherine K. Davis. It is nonetheless a lovely carol.
  • Gina from Princeton, WvAh ha! The Ralph Carmichael Chorus and Orchestra were backing him up! Such a classic sound!!!
  • Gina from Princeton, WvAmazing song! Does anyone know who the backup singers are?
  • Camille from Toronto, OhAs a young child, I remember hearing this song one Christmas season on the radio my dad would sometimes play in the living room. I remember getting still and listening to the beautiful words sung by Bing Crosby's melodic voice. The words drew pictures in my mind and spoke right to my heart, even at my young age. Great song.
  • Chomper02 from Shippensburg, PaThis song was used in the Rankin - Bass animated christmas special : "The Little Drummer Boy". In the series, after the silver bells were saved ; the man who made the bells played them, and the song was sung by children as the scene shows scences relating to the song.
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