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Welcome to a special holiday edition of Music Friday, when we bring you sensational songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals is the title or lyrics. Today, we present one of our all-time-favorite Christmas classics, “Do You Hear What I Hear.”
In this song about the birth of Jesus, a shepherd boy tells the mighty king, “Do you know what I know? / A child, a child shivers in the cold / Let us bring him silver and gold / Let us bring him silver and gold.”
The lyrics are based on the Gospel of Matthew (2:11), which recounts the story of the magi — three wise men — who traveled to Bethlehem to deliver gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Babe in the manger.
Penned by the married couple Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne Baker in 1962, “Do You Hear What I Hear” was intended as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis — a time when the US and the USSR were in a tense standoff regarding the Soviet Union’s provocative move to construct ballistic nuclear missile bases in Cuba, just 100 miles from the US mainland.
Baker told the Los Angeles Times years later that neither she nor Regney could perform the song at the time they wrote it. “Our little song broke us up,” she said. “You must realize there was a threat of nuclear war at the time.”
Baker and Regney’s “Do You Hear What I Hear” became one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time. It has sold tens of millions of copies and has been covered by hundreds of artists over the past 58 years.
Crooner Bing Crosby made the song a worldwide sensation in late 1963, when he featured it on his holiday Christmas album and performed it during Bob Hope’s televised Christmas special.
As a holiday treat, we’re presenting two renditions of “Do You Hear What I Hear.” The first, from 2014, is an off-the-charts, full orchestral version by Tony Award-winning Idina Menzel, who is most famous for her Broadway stage roles in Rent and Wicked, as well being the voice of Elsa in Disney’s animated musical, Frozen. The second is Bing Crosby’s iconic version from 51 years earlier.
The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along. Enjoy!
“Do You Hear What I Hear”
Lyrics by Noel Regney. Music by Gloria Shayne Baker. First performance by Idina Menzel. Second performance by Bing Crosby.
Said the night wind to the little lamb,
“Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky, little lamb,
Do you see what I see?
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite,
With a tail as big as a kite.”
Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy,
“Do you hear what I hear?
Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy,
Do you hear what I hear?
A song, a song high above the trees
With a voice as big as the sea,
With a voice as big as the sea.”
Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king,
“Do you know what I know?
In your palace walls, mighty king,
Do you know what I know?
A child, a child shivers in the cold
Let us bring him silver and gold,
Let us bring him silver and gold.”
Said the king to the people everywhere,
“Listen to what I say!
Pray for peace, people, everywhere,
Listen to what I say!
The child, the child sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light,
He will bring us goodness and light
Idina Menzel (2014)
Bing Crosby (1963)
Credits: Screen capture via YouTube.com/Idina Menzel.