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Do You Hear What I Hear?

Words: Noël Regney
Music: Gloria Shayne (1962)

This is one of those songs that could go either way. First of all, what’s up with this little lamb? He talks to the night wind:

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

Then he talks to a shepherd boy:

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 tree
With a voice as big as the sea
With a voice as big as the sea

If I’m a shepherd boy and a lamb comes up and starts talking to me, I’m running screaming toward the hills. Screw the sheep (Oooh…is that a bad choice of words? Cause I’ve heard that some shepherds…never mind.) But this shepherd boy goes straight to the mighty king.

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king
Do you know what I know
In your palace wall 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

You’ve got to hand it to the kid, going straight to the mighty king and all; but if a child is shivering in the cold, wouldn’t you want to bring him…oh, I don’t know…a blanket?

But in spite of these minor difficulties I have with the song, it’s a great one. It’s like a lot of the great songs of Christmas, it lifts you up while at the same time putting a frog in your throat. It acknowledges the sadness and pain in the world, and yet offers hope if only the world would listen to the child, the Prince of Peace.

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

The child, the child
Sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light

When Regney and Shayne – a married couple – wrote the song in 1962, they were inspired and frightened by the Cuban Missile Crisis and the very real prospect of a nuclear war. And when Regney wrote the words “Pray for peace people everywhere,” he knew what he was talking about. A French citizen, he worked for the French Resistance during World War II.

So, in spite of – or maybe because of – flights of fancy involving talking wind and sheep, I’m giving ‘Do You Hear What I Hear’ a thumbs up. For all our boys and girls in harm’s way around the world, pray for peace people everywhere.

This video is basically a commercial for a Christmas CD, but it has some good information.

This is my favorite version of the song, an example of what Whitney Houston can do when she gets a decent song to sing.

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