Seeking Goodness and Light

‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’ is a song written in October 1962, with lyrics by Noël Regney and music by Gloria Shayne Baker. Regney wrote the lyrics for the song, while Shayne composed the music.  The pair were married at the time, and they wrote it as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis and as a response to the existential dread that they felt because of the Cold War.  When the USSR was spotted constructing bases for ballistic nuclear missiles in Cuba, it was thought that these weapons would be used to strike most of the continental United States and a confrontation was only averted when they were dismantled at President John F. Kennedy’s insistence.  The United States threatened military action if the missiles were not removed.  The world trembled and prayed as these two nuclear powers stood eyeball-to-eyeball.

Regney had been invited by a record producer to write a Christmas song, but he was hesitant due to the commercialism of the Christmas holiday.  Noel Regney felt terrified for his family, his country, and for the survival of the human race.  He had fought in World War II and had experienced the fear and terror of war and death first hand.  Now he was worried that the secure life he had built for himself and his family in the United States was on the verge of ending, as it teetered on nuclear disaster.  He tried to think about something else, while he walked through the streets of New York City, but he kept sensing that a feeling of despair was in the air.

This song has sold tens of millions of copies and has been covered by hundreds of artists.  Bing Crosby made the song a worldwide smash hit when he recorded it in 1963.  Ironically, Crosby laid down his vocals on November 22, 1963, the day that President J. F. K. was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

This Christmas song contains dramatic shifts in volume and pitch and each refrain begins with a question sung solemn and low, and then jumps up the scales for the answer.  This creates a sense of size, of craning upward for revelation.  The lyrics are impressionistic, being about a chain of communications between objects which are animate and some that are not.  Regney said that he was en route to his home, when he saw two mothers with their babies in strollers.   The little angels were looking at each other and smiling, and those little ones reminded him of newborn lambs and this inspired the first line of the song, “Said the night wind to the little lamb”.  This is my favorite Christmas song.

Whitney Houston – Do You Hear What I Hear

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 warm, 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

Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Music Prompt #18: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman”

6 thoughts on “Seeking Goodness and Light

  1. Wow I’m blown away. I love your take on the Christmas carol prompt and the history behind the carol you’ve chosen. Indeed a wonderful message of peace when the Cold War and isolationism prospered. I love how this carol came to be and it’s a favorite of mine too. Thanks for participating!

    Liked by 1 person

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