“Do You Hear What I Hear?” Covert Message and Modern Day Relevance

November 6th, 2016, The Divided United States

We are days away from the 2016 Presidential Election, and I have never seen the United States so DIVIDED. In time of turbulence, I am comforted by inspirational messages such this line, “Pray for peace people everywhere, pray for peace people everywhere.” from the Christmas song, Do you hear what I hear? written in 1962 by Noël Regney and Gloria Shayne Baker. The lyrics of this song are overtly a Christmas song, praising the birth of Jesus. What a lot of people don’t know is, this song is also covertly addressing the era of fear and doom of the Cuban missile crisis, most directly addressed in this plea “pray for peace people everywhere, pray for peace people everywhere.” The poignant lyrics of this song can be interpreted in a whole new light, relating very directly to our modern day concerns.

About the writers

Noël Regney knew some things about war. He was a French-born citizen, but living in the Alsace-Moselle part of France he was drafted, possibly by force, into the Nazi army. He became a double agent during the 2nd world war and even lead a party of Nazis into an ambush. Despite all that, he survived the war and traveled to the USA later in life where his met his American wife Gloria Shayne Baker, with whom he wrote this song. The couple would later divorce. Noël wrote the lyrics for this song, while Gloria composed the music. For a man whose native tongue was not English, Noël wrote some exceptionally eloquent words for this song.

A star, a star, dancing in the night with a tail as big as a kite, with a tail as big as a kite

The obvious Christmas reference here is the star of Bethlehem, leading believers to baby Jesus. The writers of this song are also making reference to the missiles/”stars” being launched during the Cuban missile crisis. They sure have a romantic way of talking about these missiles, dancing in the night.

Said the night wind to the little lamb…

Regney once explained. “In the studio, the producer was listening to the radio to see if we had been obliterated. En route to my home, I saw two mothers with their babies in strollers. The little angels were looking at each other and smiling.” These children are said to be the inspiration behind the night wind and the little lamb. Notice, he also refers to these children as angels. The children, or angels are the inspiration of the people to later plea for peace.

…with a voice as big as the sea, with a voice as big as the sea

The gentle sounds of this line in the song provide massive contrast to the idea of a “voice as big as the sea.” Just imagine that, a voice as big as the sea. That would be one strong, potentially terrifying sound. Many would interpret this as the sounds of the devastation once the missiles made contact. Perhaps it could also be interpreted as the voice of the leader who has the power to allow this to happen. Or the voice of the leader who has the power to establish peace.

In your palace warm, 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.

Through literal interpretations we can assume Baby Jesus is this child, shivering in the cold. You can also imagine this following the cry for peace to our worldly “kings” or leaders to think of our children, and the kind of world we want for them. We want to bring them peace, the best kind of silver and gold.

Resolution – The Final Verse

Given all this, just read the remaining verse;

Said the king to the people everywhere
Listen to what I say
(Listen to what I say)
Pray for peace people everywhere
Listen to what I say
(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

Following what the people have pleaded for, the king insists that we all make peace the priority, and through doing so, the children (or God/Jesus) will bring us goodness and light.

Do You Hear what I Hear? Lyrics

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
Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy
Do you hear what I hear?
(do you hear what I hear)
Ringing through the sky shepherd boy
Do you hear what I hear?
(do hear what I hear)
A song, a song
High above the trees
With a voice as big as the sea
With a voice as big as the sea

 

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king
Do you know what I know
(do you know what I know)

In your palace warm mighty king
Do you know what I know
(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

Said the king to the people everywhere
Listen to what I say
(Listen to what I say)
Pray for peace people everywhere
Listen to what I say
(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

He will bring us goodness and light

Further Reading

Wikipedia

The Atlantic

sojo.net

 

 

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