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Popular Christmas Carol Created by Ukrainian Composer

17. December 2010 by Michelle 0 Comments

The famous four note repetition of Carol of the Bells or Ring, Christmas Bells is known all over the world, but it was originally created by Mykola Leontovych as the Ukrainian Bell Carol. He based the hypnotic ostinato rhythm from an ancient pagan Ukrainian New Year’s chant called Shchedryk, from the Ukrainian word for bountiful.


Students of the Kiev University were the first to perform the song in a cappella in 1916. It was introduced to the United States by the Ukrainian National Chorus at New York City’s Carnegie Hall in 1921. It was translated into English in the 1930s and several versions of different lyrics were written. Today it can be heard worldwide, at choral performances as well as on television commercials.


The original Ukrainian text tells the tale of a swallow flying into the household to sing of wealth that will come with the following spring. The song is usually sung by Ukrainians on the night of January 13th, which is New Year’s Eve by the Julian calendar.


Here’s the English translation of Shchedryk, as well as the lyrics of the English version Carol of the Bells. This iconic song has been honored in thousands of different ways. Watch the videos below!



Schedryk, shchedryk, a shchedrivka [New Year's carol];

A little swallow flew [into the household]

and started to twitter,

to summon the master:

"Come out, come out, O master [of the household],

look at the sheep pen,

there the ewes are nestling

and the lambkin have been born

Your goods [livestock] are great,

you will have a lot of money, [by selling them]

if not money, then chaff: [from all the grain you will harvest]

you have a dark-eyebrowed [beautiful] wife."

Shchedryk, shchedryk, a shchedrivka,

A little swallow flew.


Carol of the Bells

Hark how the bells,

sweet silver bells,

all seem to say,

throw cares away


Christmas is here,

bringing good cheer,

to young and old,

meek and the bold,


Ding dong ding dong

that is their song

with joyful ring

all caroling


One seems to hear

words of good cheer

from everywhere

filling the air


Oh how they pound,

raising the sound,

o'er hill and dale,

telling their tale,


Gaily they ring

while people sing

songs of good cheer,

Christmas is here,


Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas,

Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas,

On on they send,

on without end,

their joyful tone

to every home


Ding dong ding… dong!