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Щедрик | Shchedryk | Ukrainian Carol of the Bells

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Carol of the Bells (“Shchedryk”) – Mykola Leontovych | Piano Duet performance | Ukrainian Bell Carol

Carol of the Bells (“Shchedryk”) – Mykola Leontovych | Piano Duet performance | Ukrainian Bell Carol
Source: https://youtu.be/-5nw1a4Q5M4
Channel: Piano by Anna

◾ “Carol of the Bells” is a popular Christmas carol, with music by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych in 1914 and English lyrics written by Peter J. Wilhousky. The song is based on the Ukrainian folk chant “Shchedryk”.

◾ This video is a piano duet performance of the carol’s arrangement written by Antti Hakkarainen. I have performed both the Primo/melody (top video) & Secondo/accompaniment (bottom video) parts.

😲❓💡 DID YOU KNOW? (FUN FACT): Although “Carol of the Bells” has become a popular tune during Christmas, it wasn’t originally a Christmas song!


◾The original folk story related in the song was associated with the coming New Year, which, in pre-Christian Ukraine, was celebrated with the coming of spring in April. The song is based on a traditional folk chant whose language was thought to have magical properties. The original Ukrainian title translates to “bountiful” or “the generous one” or is perhaps derived from the Ukrainian word for bountiful, and tells a tale of a swallow flying into a household to proclaim the bountiful year that the family will have.

◾ With the introduction of Christianity to Ukraine & the adoption of the Julian calendar, the celebration of the New Year was moved from April to January, and the holiday with which the chant was originally associated became Malanka, the eve of the Julian New Year (the night of January 13–14 in the Gregorian calendar). The songs sung for this celebration are known as Shchedrivky.


◾ When the American composer Peter J. Wilhousky heard “Shchedryk”, he rearranged the piece for orchestra with new lyrics in 1936 (with the same Ukrainian melody), centered around the theme of bells because the melody reminded him of handbells, which begins “Hark! How the bells”. It is now strongly associated with Christmas because of its new lyrics, which reference bells, carolling & the line “merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas”. Thus, Wilhousky transformed the traditional New Year’s carol into a Christmas carol.

◾ Although gaining near unmatched fame in the U.S., the song remains under-appreciated in its country of origin for Christmas, where performance is mainly restricted to the Julian New Year’s Eve.


◾ Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych (1877–1921) was a Ukrainian composer, conductor, ethnomusicologist & teacher. He specialised in a cappella choral music, ranging from original compositions to church music, to elaborate arrangements of folk music. He is known as a martyr in the Eastern Orthodox Ukrainian Church, where he is also remembered for his liturgy, the first liturgy composed in the vernacular, specifically in the modern Ukrainian language. He was assassinated by a Soviet agent in 1921.

◾ During his lifetime, his compositions & arrangements became popular with professional & amateur groups alike across the Ukrainian region of the Russian Empire. Performances of his works in western Europe & North America earned him the nickname “the Ukrainian Bach” in France. He had a strong desire for his music to arouse the senses, especially sight, saying, “I’m interested in which colours you used for high tones, and which for the low ones. I myself often think about that, to combine sound & colour.”


◾ Peter J. Wilhousky (1902–1978) was an American composer, educator, and choral conductor of Rusyn or Ukrainian ethnic extraction. He was part of New York’s Rusyn during his childhood & gave a performance to President Woodrow Wilson at the White House.

◾ He is known for providing the English lyrics to “Carol of the Bells”. His arrangement of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” for chorus, band & orchestra is probably the most famous arrangement of the hymn before the 1940s in the US.

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Sheet music – Carol of the Bells (Piano, 4 Hands) arrangement by Antti Hakkarainen

Thumbnail photo by photostock PhotoBank from Pexels Bell wallpaper – wallpapercave.com Christmas

Bells Corner Border – pngkit.com

Christmas Parchment Red Corner Background – pngkit.com

Wide Christmas border garland vector by Vecteezy

Abstract Holiday New Year and Merry Christmas Holiday Vector by Vecteezy


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