As Putin’s genocidal war on Ukraine continues its second brutal year, we wanted to share again our post from last Christmas celebrating “Carol of the Bells.” Written by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych in 1914, it has become one of the most beloved carols the world over and become one the most recorded Christmas songs in virtually ever music genre imaginable.
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We share “Carol of the Bells'” story and timeless haunting refrain in solidarity with the people of Ukraine in hope they soon know victory and peace in their country.
Originally posted December 23, 2023
“Ukraine’s ‘Carol of the Bells’ – A Centennial Celebration”
By Lawrence Pfeil, Jr.
One of the most beautiful and beloved songs performed by choirs, vocal ensembles, musical groups, and instrumentalists during the Christmas season is the hauntingly joyful, “Carol of the Bells.” Unless you’re a musician who’s performed the song, you’re probably unaware it’s a Ukrainian carol. Even if you do, you may not know its Ukrainian-American backstory which uncannily, but sadly, mirrors our world today.
Mark Twain said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes;” and in this case it also sings. This is the fascinating story of how the Ukrainian folk song, “Shchedryk” became “Carol of the Bells” a musical gift to the world for the last one hundred years.
In a full circle concert, Ukraine’s Shchedryk Children Choir performed Carol of the Bells at Carnegie Hall earlier this month in celebration of its centennial, an event two years in the making, more than a year before Putin’s barbaric invasion of their country.
Martin Scorsese made these impassion remarks and plea for assistance before their performance. The QR code he mentions is also scannable in the video, if you’d like to make a donation.
A multinational choir of NATO forces stationed in Latvia put out this video of them performing “Carol of the Bells” in a snowy forest near the board with Russia. Their message to the world through the power of music is clear.