This piece gives the Orpheus Choir's concert its name – Carol of the Bells.
The tune was composed in the early 20th century by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovich. It’s based on a traditional Ukrainian folk chant. In the 1930s, American composer Peter Wilhousky thought Leontovich’s melody reminded him of hand bells, so he arranged the tune for choir and orchestra including hand bells and provided a new set of lyrics.
The arrangement here was made by Utah-based composer Barlow Bradford.
Members of the choir ring hand bells and we also hear the main Wellington Cathedral bells rung by members of the Wellington Society of Bell ringers!
Over the years the piece has steadily gained in popularity aided by its use in movies such as Home Alone and The Santa Clause as well as in The Muppets!
Recorded 24 November 2018, Wellington Cathedral of St Paul by RNZ Concert
Producer: David McCaw
Engineer: Darryl Stack