Welcome to our special holiday edition of Music Friday, when we bring you fabulous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals is the title or lyrics. Today, we present one of the all-time 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.”
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 U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were in a tense standoff regarding the Soviet Union’s move to construct ballistic nuclear missile bases in Cuba.
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 51 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 is a brilliant and stirring contemporary duet by Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Nettles, who performed it in 2013 during the CMA Country Christmas special on ABC. The second is Bing Crosby’s iconic version from 50 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 Mary J. Blige & Jennifer Nettles (2013). Second performance by Bing Crosby (1963).
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
Images: Bing Crosby promotional shot (uncredited); Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Nettles screen capture via YouTube