I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day | Anne Britt

Liner notes

Originally published as a poem in 1866, the lyrics to this song were written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It became a carol sometime after 1872 when it was set to a melody composed by a well-known English organist, John Baptiste Calkin. Another familiar version was later composed by Johnny Marks, composer of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Since I like both versions, I decided to use them both in this arrangement. Calkin's version is the first one you hear. Reading some background on this song, I learned that Longfellow wrote this poem during a very dark and difficult period of life, following the tragic death of his beloved wife and while his son was struggling to recover from war wounds. The story behind the lyrics explains the despair and grief in his words, but gives deeper meaning to the ultimate message of the song: "peace on earth, goodwill to men."

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About the artist

Anne was born in Toronto, Ontario, and raised in Cave Junction, Oregon. She was surrounded by music at an early age with a mom who was both a piano teacher and a piano tuner. She became a regular accompanist of choirs, small groups, and soloists as a teenager and still gets plenty of opportunities for that. As an adult, she discovered the fun of musical theater and is involved with schools and community theaters as time permits. Composing music is her latest endeavor. With a husband and blended family of six children, life is about trying to keep a balance and finding time to fit everything in!