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Ding Dong Merrily On High Christmas Song

Ding Dong Merrily On High

Year: 1589

Written By: Johan Tabourot

Like many of our well known Christmas carols 'Ding Dong Merrily On High' started out in France, but its origins varied greatly from the traditional standard it would become. The song was first published in 1589 in a French renaissance social dance book called 'Orchesographie', which was written by Johan Tabourot. It was then known as 'Branle l'Officiel' (the Officers' Brawl) and it wasn't until 1924 that English composer George Ratcliffe Woodward published it in English for the first time, with Charles Wood adding the music later on. It was at this point it became the carol we know today.

'Ding Dong Merrily On High' doesn't lend itself easily to contemporary styling owing to its classic choir template but it has still made multiple appearances by well known artists down through the years, many of whom you can read about below:

1985 - Jon Anderson certainly had the high pitch to capture the essence of the carol and he did so on his 'Three Ships' festive collection. There's nothing revolutionary on offer but this is a nice faithful rendition.

1987 - The Muppets Christmas TV show of 1987, 'A Muppet Family Christmas', featured a host of carols and secular tunes. 'Ding Dong Merrily On High' featured characters from both the Muppet show and Sesame Street with Scooter opening proceedings with a choir of chickens to back him up.

1990 - Julie Andrews recorded a Christmas album with the London Symphony Orchestra called 'The Sounds of Christmas: From Around the World' which proved to be a truly lavish affair. It was one of 6 Chrismas albums that card maker Hallmark put together and they really got behind the project such was the quality and production sheen of the material. Andrews' 'Ding Dong Merrily On High' is fabulous, with her voice swooping every which way to create a unique take on the song. She was ably back by the Ambrosian Choir, who themselves added an energetic riposte to Andrew's vocal acrobatics. The Sound of (Christmas) Music you might say!

1991 - Seminal Irish traditional band the Chieftains gave the old standard a fine Celtic twist on their Christmas album 'The Bells of Dublin'. Vocals were supplied by the Renaissance Singers (in what was a fine piece of history repeating itself).

1997 - Roger Whitaker's fine 'Happy Holidays' album contained a version of 'Ding Dong Merrily On High'. Some of the music (especially at the start) might have been a tad odd but it is hard to resist Whitaker's baritone singing during December.

2000 - At the turn of the century Charlotte Church was huge, commercially, with her album of carols 'Dream A Dream' becoming the biggest selling holiday album in the US in 2000. Her 'Ding Dong Merrily On High!' was a sprightly operatic affair which considering she was 14 at the time makes it all the more remarkable. The background music, while mostly excellent, is a little overbearing at times.

2008 - Irish vocal group Anúna recorded a faithful version of the carol for their 'Christmas Memories' , that relied on their close vocal harmonies rather than a rich orchestral production. All told it's a quiet treat.

Apart from those mentioned above the list of choir's that have recorded 'Ding Dong Merrily On High!' have included the Choir of King's College Cambridge, the Choir of St Paul's Cathedral and the Choir of Winchester Cathedral.

 

Ding Dong Merrily On High Lyrics

Ding dong, dong, ding dong, dong, ding dong, dong
Ding dong, dong, ding dong, dong, ding dong, dong

Ding dong, merrily on high
In heaven the bells are ringing
Ding dong, verily the sky
Is riven with angel singing

Ding dong, dong, ding dong, dong, ding dong, dong
(Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis)
Ding dong, dong, ding dong, dong, ding dong, dong
(Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis)

E'en so here below, below
Let steeple bells be swungen
And io, io, io
By priest and people sungen

Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis

Ding dong, dong, ding dong, dong, ding dong, dong
(Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis)

Pray you, dutifully prime
Your matin chime, ye ringers
May you beautifully rime
Your eve time song, ye singers

Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis
Ding dong, dong, ding dong, dong, ding dong, dong
(Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis)

Gloria

Ding dong, dong, ding dong, dong, ding dong, dong
(Hosanna in excelsis)
Ding dong, dong, ding dong, dong, ding dong, dong
(Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis)

Ding dong, dong, ding dong, dong, ding dong, dong
(Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis)

 

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