There are few songs as magical as Carol of the Bells. The way the voices of a choir harmonize against a backdrop of beautiful bells makes the spirit lifts. The song has its roots in the melody of an old Ukrainian folk song called Shchedryk. Shchedryk was composed by Ukrainian composer and music teacher, Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych, (1877-1921) in 1916. The title of the song means "the little swallow" in English. This song tells the story of a sparrow that flies into a home and sings to the family about the bountiful year that awaits them. It was originally a New Years song based on the Julian calendar, which was used by the Ukranian Orthodox church.
In the United States, Shchedryk was first performed on October 5, 1921, at Carnegie Hall by the Alexander Koshetz's Ukrainian National Chorus. Peter J. Wilhousky (1902-1978) was a popular American composer and choral conductor at the time who was of Ukrainian ethnic origins. When he heard Shchedryk, he decided to write new lyrics in English to accompany the song's melody in 1936.
Since then, the song has become a holiday favorite and it was only a matter of time before A cappella supergroup Pentatonix got their hands on it.
A Pentatonix Christmas A five-person a cappella group originally from Arlington, Texas, Pentatonix first found a national spotlight by winning the third season of NBC's The Sing-Off in 2011. With a decidedly contemporary spin on the format and unique strengths at each position in their lineup, they followed the appearance with a string of Top Ten albums, multiple Grammy Awards, and international chart success. In addition to their popular covers and original songs -- they charted with both Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and their own "Can't Sleep Love" -- some of the quintet's biggest hits have been holiday standards.
Listen to their cover of Carol of the Bells here.