Do You Hear What I Hear?

"Do You Hear What I Hear?"
Song by Harry Simeone
Written October 1962
Composer(s) Gloria Shayne Baker
Lyricist(s) Noël Regney

"Do You Hear What I Hear?" is a song written in October 1962, with lyrics by Noël Regney and music by Gloria Shayne Baker.[1] The pair, married at the time, wrote it as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis.[2] 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.[3] It has sold tens of millions of copies and has been covered by hundreds of artists.[2]


Regney wrote the lyrics for the song, while Shayne composed the music in October 1962.[2] This was an unusual arrangement for the two writers. Usually it was Shayne who wrote the lyrics for their songs while Regney composed the music, as they did when they wrote a song based on the classic children's song "Rain Rain Go Away".[1][2]

Regney was inspired to write the lyrics "Said the night wind to the little lamb, 'Do you see what I see?'" and "Pray for peace, people everywhere" after watching babies being pushed in strollers on the sidewalks of New York City.[1] Shayne stated in an interview years later that neither could personally perform the entire song at the time they wrote it because of the emotions surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis.[1] "Our little song broke us up. You must realize there was a threat of nuclear war at the time."[1]


"Do You Hear What I Hear?" was released shortly after Thanksgiving in 1962.[1] The song was originally recorded by the Harry Simeone Chorale,[1] a group which had also popularized "The Little Drummer Boy". It went on to sell more than a quarter-million copies during the 1962 Christmas holiday season.[1]

Bing Crosby made the song into a hit when he recorded his own version of it on October 21, 1963, with the record being released as a single on October 26. Crosby also performed the song on a Bob Hope Christmas television special on December 13 of that year. Over the years, Crosby's recording of the song has been widely played on the radio, and has been available on numerous compilation Christmas albums and compact discs put out by Capitol Records. A fictional reference to a recording session at Capitol Records on November 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was shot, appears in The Epoch Point[4], a novel by Spencer Zimmerman. The novel is a religious historical conspiracy thriller, which provides no citation for any truth to that date. Since the book's publication in 2008, the reference has been repeated several times,[5][6][7] including being published as part of this article.

The song was later recorded in diverse ways by hundreds of artists as varied as Patti LaBelle, Heather Headley, Johnny Mathis,[2] Perry Como,[2] Pat Boone,[2] Mahalia Jackson,[2] Whitney Houston,[2] Jim Nabors,[2] Kate Smith,[2] John Tesh,[2] the United States Air Force Symphony Orchestra,[2] the Tropical Flavor Steel Drum Band,[2] Bob Hope,[2] Glen Campbell,[2] Robert Goulet,[2] Kenny G,[2] Kelly Rowland, the Hampton String Quartet, Eddie Fisher, Anita Bryant, Jack Jones, Andy Williams, Vanessa L. Williams, The Carpenters, Anne Murray, Idina Menzel, Gladys Knight, Copeland, David Arkenstone, Moya Brennan, Johnny Cash,[8] Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, Delta Goodrem, Linda Eder, Diahann Carroll, Ed Ames, Flyleaf, Jim Brickman, Celine Dion, Vince Gill, Anthony Way, Jose Mari Chan, Lani Misalucha, Rosie O'Donnell (with special guest Elmo), Third Day, Mannheim Steamroller, Bobby Lloyd and the Skeletons (as a medley with the rock classic "You Really Got Me"), Kristin Chenoweth, Sufjan Stevens, Pink Martini, Bob Dylan, Larry Norman, The Joystrings, Connie Talbot (2008 and 2009), Kristinia DeBarge, Vanessa Carlton, Theo Tams, former Celtic Woman members Órla Fallon & Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, Susan Boyle, the Broadway Cast of American Idiot for BCEFA's Carols for a Cure (Volume 12), South African singer Jo Day [9] Minimum Wage for Christmas Gone Wrong on Drive-Thru Records, and arranged by René Clausen, The Concordia Choir, The Glee Project contestants Lindsay Pearce and Alex Newell for Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album Volume 2. In 2011 JLS sampled the song for their single "Do You Feel What I Feel?", William Beckett on Punk Goes Christmas. This song is also covered by Elmo from Sesame Street and Alicia Keys when she finds him sitting alone and convinces him never to give up hope. In this version, the words are slightly different.

Regney said that his favorite version was performed by Robert Goulet. As The New York Times noted, when the singer came to the line "Pray for peace, people everywhere," he "almost shouted the words." [10]

The line, "A star, a star, dancing in the night, With a tail" can be heard melodically in We Are The World ("There's a choice we're making, we're saving our own lives, it's true").


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