On the eve of Christmas and the New Year's holidays: Christmas carols

The caroling genre itself is a "holy festive and congratulatory songs of courtyards’ rounds". Initially, the custom of courtyards’ rounds was, certainly, pre-Christian. It was believed that caroling provided the owners with a generous harvest, livestock and well-being in the house. Therefore, those who sang carols tried to go round about everything in the house. Caroling was a kind of ritual that came to us from antiquity. Its main point, first, consisted in worshiping the sun on the day of the winter solstice. The Slavonic peoples believed that by a ritual of caroling they could scare away all evil spirits and bring prosperity, goodness and, most important, a rich harvest to the house. Today, these and other pagan rituals exist along with Christian holidays. For example, the celebration of the Christ Nativity is still accompanied by singing of carols. Most of the carols are a heritage of folk art; hence, all of them are interesting and splendid by their semantic structure and sincerely genial and joyful mood. Today, a Christmas carol all over the world is a story about the greatest event and the glorification of the main persons of that night, which brought the most joyful news - Christmas!

One of these holy songs is Shchedryk (Christmas song), which we recorded on the eve of Christmas from a gramophone record that is stored in the museum Collection musical library. It is about a swallow singing and promising the farmers prosperity in the new year. This folk song once fascinated the 20th-century Ukrainian composer Nikolai Leontovich, who devoted decades of work to this song. He presented the first edition of the Shchedryk choral setting in 1901, and the fifth was realized almost twenty years later. In 1916, the choir of Kiev University brilliantly performed it. It was his arrangement of Shchedryk that made Nikolai Leontovich a famous composer and presented his work to the world audience. Already in October 1921, the Ukrainian National Choir performed Shchedryk at the Carnegie Hall, winning the hearts of the audience.

Later, an American composer of the Ukrainian origin, Peter Wilhousky, wrote new text in English, turning the traditional Shchedryk into a Christmas song. The melody reminded him of the ringing bells, which served as the main idea for the title. Thus the world-famous version of Shchedryk appeared - Carol of the Bells.

Since the forties, many musicians have often recorded the song; almost all concert choral groups perform it on the Christmas Eve. Today, no celebration of Christmas in the world is complete without this song. It sounded as the musical score such as Home Alone, Harry Potter and many others as well.

A musical selection with Christmas carols recorded from Duo-Art paper music rolls on Pianola Steinway Duo-Art Grand, USA (1926) and a Columbia record on the Audio-technica player, are in our Musical Library.

Ref. https://song-story.ru/shchedryk-carol-of-the-bells/