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Carol of the Bells

By Shamus
on Wednesday Dec 23, 2009
Filed under:


Carol of the Bells is one of my holiday favorites. I love it to the point that I avoid playing it because I don’t want to wear it out. I try to hold myself to just a few draughts of it each year.

Here is a nice version of the song:

Link (YouTube)

Everything is better with Muppets. Yes, even that. Especially that. But also this song.

Link (YouTube)

“Ding Fries are Done” is ancient by internet standards. I’m sure it’s older than YouTube.

Link (YouTube)

How about an version of the tune sung by Celtic Woman? (Which, confusingly, is actually a group of Women.) I don’t know if any of them are actually named Carol or not, although that would be pretty cool.

Link (YouTube)

What’s your favorite holiday song?

Comments (64)

  1. apocriva says:


    ^ My favourite rendition of Carol of the Bells by an old Quebec metal band. :D

  2. Jeysie says:

    :D Carol of the Bells has the honor of being the only Christmas carol that my retail-hardened Scrooge heart still loves.

    So it’s no coincidence that the medley “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra is still my favorite Christmas song.

  3. Rick W says:

    “O Holy Night” is my favorite, easily. Other Christmas (etc.) songs I love:

    “Carol of the Bells”
    “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
    “Joy to the World”
    “People, Look East”
    “We Three Kings”
    “What Child Is This?”
    “Winter Wonderland”

  4. Mad Flavius says:

    My favorite, if we’re going for pure Christmas songs, has always been Veni, Veni Emmanuel–sung in its proper language (Latin) in the proper style (a cappella)–but I didn’t find a version I liked until I found the King’s Singers performing it when I was browsing iTunes. I am now set so far as Christmas music goes.

    Though I must say, much of Trans-Siberian Orchestra falls under the utterly awesome category (as I currently listen to Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)).

  5. W says:

    I think that most carols, divorced from their nostalgia and ‘the season’, are pretty weak. The ones that stand alone as actual good songs for me are We Three Kings, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and of course Carol of the Bells.

  6. Lilfut says:

    Ah, the BK Christmas Carol.

    My mom hates it, thanks to 10-year-old me.

    I hate him.

  7. ccesarano says:

    Aside from the eternally metal Carol of the Bells, my heart has always been warm to We Three Kings. In particular Rob Halford’s rendition of it.

    I am pretty disconnected from most carols by now, though. I just like clever variations (Twisted Sister’s version of the Twelve Days of Christmas). However, Yes front man’s Jon Anderson did a great solo album called Three Ships (WHOOAH 80’s!) which focuses on Christmas oriented music without recycling more than a couple of carols.

    Thanks for the Muppet version of Carol of the Bells, by the way. My sister and niece will love that.

  8. Trianglehead says:

    Carol of the Bells is my favorite as well. And that Celtic Woman version is awesome. That is one mean fiddler.

  9. Angie says:

    “Carol of the Bells” is definitely up toward the top of my list. I think my very favorite is “We Three Kings,” but I also like “Do You Hear What I Hear” and “The Little Drummer Boy” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” (Latin as well as English). Handel’s “Messiah” is also awesome if one has the time. :)


  10. ima420r says:

    One of the best things about the holidays is the music. I like to go to church on xmas just so I can sing/hear some of the wonderful songs.

    This is a great, short version of ‘Carol of the Bells’ and one of my favorites. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUM_3DsJgyM

    I hafta say though thet ‘Little Drummer Boy’ may be my favorite xmas carol.

  11. SoldierHawk says:

    Oh I love Carol of the Bells. One of my all-time favorites.

    “Do You Hear What I Hear” is lovely.

    For pure, uplifting Xmas spirit, “Silver Bells.”

    Also, “We Three Kings of the Orient Are.” So haunting and so beautiful when done right.

  12. Factoid says:

    It’s one of the few christmas songs that I actually really like.

    I’ve never understood why it’s a christmas song, though. It’s not cheery, in fact I would say it’s got a fairly dark tone.

  13. Lonestar says:

    My favorite is “O Holy Night” I rarely hear it too which is good. Last year I didn’t hear it at all.

  14. Selifator says:

    I dislike most Christmas songs, simply because I’m bludgeoned to death with them by radio shows that mix them in with their trendy, hip pop-songs. Yuck.

  15. Johannes says:

    Didn’t know this Carol at all, but then we Dutch seem to have much less of a tradition of singing actual Christmas carols. I’ve been a member of a choir with which we once sang a version of ‘We three kings’; since then, that carol ranks high upon my list of favorites.

    Also, I can’t quite stand a large number of metal versions of the Carol, or South Park ones, or whatever; probably has something to do with my preference for classical music and the original performance thereof.

    But then, what version actually manages to top something like this?

  16. MisteR says:

    Radetzky march, at new years.

  17. rayen says:

    goodness gracious that last one reminded me how much i like celtic music. I mean how many 13 year olds beg their parenbts to take them to riverdance? got to go a couple of weeks ago. Actually pretty awesome.

    uhhhhh… on topic – it hard to be a jew at christmas
    (fav real carol – we three kings)

  18. chuko says:

    We Three Kings has always been my favorite to sing, but I’ve been really into a new one this year, White Wine in the Sun. It speaks to me quite a bit.

  19. Miral says:

    My all-time favourite Christmas song is most definitely Chiron Beta Prime. :)

  20. Wolverine says:

    Personally, I find that the best version of “Carol of the Bells” is from the movie Home Alone, along with the next track “Setting a Trap”.
    Listen here:
    and here:

  21. The Poet says:

    I like Trace Bundy’s version of Carol of the Bells: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pn-UK_I2RDU

  22. pffh says:


    No idea if you can watch this video but I love this christmas song.

  23. MintSkittle says:

    I, too, enjoy Carol of the Bells. Last Sunday I got to hear it played by nearly 40 trombonists. Our church has an annual Trombones Christmas Concert. It was epic.

  24. Nickless says:

    It’s beginning to look a lot like fishmen


  25. Neil Polenske says:

    Tell your friend Veronica,
    its time to celebrate Chanukah!,
    O don’t forget a harmonica,
    on this lovely lovely Chanukah!
    So drink your gin and tonicah,
    and smoke your marajuanica!
    if you really really wannukah,
    have a happy happy happy,

  26. Bear says:

    I’m surprised this Christmas carol hasn’t made the list yet…


  27. TehShrike says:

    I also enjoy Carol of the Bells… my favorite rendition is the Mannheim Steamroller version from the 1988 album “A Fresh Aire Christmas”.


    My folks had the cassette tape when I was a kid :-)

  28. TehShrike says:

    Oh, also, I should note that I generally ignore Christmas and the radio-proffered songs that come with it.

    The only Christmas albums I listen to are Mannheim Steamroller, Handel’s Messiah, and Relient K.


  29. Zimboptoo says:

    I’m gonna tack another vote on Carol of the Bells as done by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Although honestly, my favorite arrangement of the song is bells/chimes and vocals. Captures the real meaning of the song better.

  30. ClearWater says:

    Did you have to put them in that order? I kept thinking those Celtic women were singing “ding fries are done”.

    I don’t know which song would be my favourite holiday song. I’d probably add a vote to O Come All Ye Faithful. Maybe it’s a Dutch thing. I also quite like Summer Holiday by Cliff Richard. And maybe Happy Xmas by John Lennon though it’s a bit depressing.

  31. Tesh says:

    Mmm… yummy, yummy “Carol of the Bells”. I still prefer the Mannheim Steamroller version, but the Muppet and Celtic Woman version are great, too. Thanks for the links!

    As for others, I like “What Child is This” most (acoustic is best), but many others as well. John Schmidt’s “Pachelbel Meets U2” is surprisingly fun. TSO’s “Christmas Canon” is also high on the list (mostly because it’s more of a classic version rather than the hard rock they usually do).

  32. Lanthanide says:

    @ Wolverine 22: My favorite carol is O Holy Night, and IMO the best version of that is from the home alone soundtrack too:

  33. Legendary Teeth says:

    +1 for the Trans Siberian Orchestra version.

    Hard to find an actual link for it, I can see why no one has posted one. Here you go though. Ignore the video..


  34. luagha says:

    Mr. Mackay’s version of the Carol of the Bells from South Park is by far the best.

    “Ding dong Mmm-kay”

  35. Freykin says:

    This is probably my favorite, but wanted to mention that you should check out The Taliesin Orchestra if you’re a big fan of George Winston. They do some amazing covers of his work, particularly Night Sky.

    Edit: here’s a link to the song mentioned: http://lala.com/z7cq

  36. Alter-Ear says:

    I’m Jewish – and I *love* Carol of the Bells. But only when it’s done well.

  37. Full Metal Chef says:

    I have to say this song has always been a favorite of mine as well. It’s just so simple and beautiful. But my favorite version is the one by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

  38. froogger says:

    I’d have to say Ave Maria. I have a fairly good idea of how I want it to sound, but still haven’t found the perfect recording with female vocals yet.
    Here’s something close anway (sorry, only Spotify):

  39. Daimbert says:

    Carol of the Bells is it for me.

    But in reference to “We Three Kings”, I always get reminded of the California Raisins version:


  40. thak says:

    August Burns Red (WARNING: METAL!) does a couple of great renditions of O Come O Come Emmanuel and…Carol Of The Bells. They are instrumentals, so don’t worry about getting shouted at. That’s all their other music. :)


  41. Mephane says:

    This video contains Content of Sony Music Entertainment. It is not available in your country any more.

    I can’t watch the first video. Friggin’ content mafia… >:(

  42. chabuhi says:

    Guilty pleasure – Bird and the Bee version:


  43. Tesh says:

    @41 Daimbert

    Ah, how could I forget that one? That whole claymation Christmas was fun, and that’s one of the best parts. Thanks for the link!

  44. Monsieur Vatel says:

    I’ll see you Celtic Woman, and raise you Sissel Kyrkjebø.


  45. PinkCoder says:

    I, too, love Carol of the Bells, especially when actually done with bells. My siblings and I grew up with Claymation Christmas, so of course, I love this version too: Claymation Carol of The Bells.

    My second favorite is Eric Cartman singing O Holy Night.

  46. Low-Level DM says:

    It’s been mentioned above twice or so, but I’ll put in my vote for Handel’s The Messiah (which, being a violinist myself, I’ve actually performed some of). Carol of the Bells makes the list, but We Three Kings is definitely also a favorite of mine, and while it’s not really a Christmas carol, I usually hear music from Scheherazade (the ballet?) around this time of year. I’d also have to reiterate Do You Hear What I Hear.

  47. Spider Dave says:

    “God Rest ye Merry, Gentlemen” I think is my favorite, followed by
    “Veni, Veni Emmanuel,”
    “The Huron Carol,”
    Straight No Chaser’s “12 Days of Christmas,”
    And pretty much anything barbershoppy, because I’m easy like that.

  48. Daimbert says:

    I’d forgotten about the Claymation Carol of the Bells [grin].

  49. Maddy says:

    I could listen to the Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick” a million times, I think.

    I know it’s not very traditional, but “tradition” has a lot to do with what we remember from our childhood. We listened to the Beach Boys Christmas album a lot when I was a kid.

  50. chabuhi says:

    Here’s another one – a favorite rendition of “The First Noel”

    I usually don’t go in for vocal jazz, but when done well …


  51. Kiwipolish says:

    I love “We Three Kings”, but I really wish I could find a version that had all the verses.

  52. glassdirigible says:

    “Carol of the Bells” is one of the three Christmas songs I like.
    “O Holy Night” is another and “Stille Nacht” is the third (that’s “Silent Night” in German, for those who are not aware).
    The others are either boring to begin with or have been so overplayed that I detest them anyway. That’s partially why I hate the period leading up to Christmas. I’d call it advent, but it’s longer than that.
    Luckily I live on a secular college campus for at least one more Christmas and can avoid most of it.

  53. JohnOSpencer says:

    My favorite is Little Drummer Boy when sung by David Bowie and Bing Crosby.


  54. ephant says:

    Instrumental Carol of the Bells is definitely my favourite christmas song. :)

  55. wumpus says:

    No love for ‘The Holly & the Ivy?’ I like almost all of the English carols including that and the Coventry Carol, and, of course, Greensleeves, but then Vaughan Williams is gold for pretty much any hymn.

    And I can’t believe no one has linked in ‘Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer’ yet… (Not ’cause its a favorite, just ’cause.)


  56. Unconvention says:

    Not a carol, but a heartfelt Christmas song: Fairytale of New York.

  57. LintMan says:

    Carol of the Bells is one of my favorite Christmas songs, and George Winston’s version is excellent. Excellent enough for me to have on one my mix CD’s for my car (all favorite songs of mine, not Christmas songs). Whenever I listen to it, it really makes me wish I could play the piano.

    I like TSO’s Carol of the Bells as well, but not quite as much as GW’s version. TSO’s CotB always reminds me of Mannheim Steamroller’s Wizards In Winter, which I also like a lot Wizards in Winter House lights

  58. Xpovos says:

    Oh, Holy Night is without a doubt the winner. A good performance will send shivers. Unfortunately, it’s a delicate song–unlike Carol of the Bells. Carol of the Bells can be adapted to many formats and still be good. Oh, Holy Night is best left to the professionals.

    For one that hasn’t been mentioned yet, I’ll throw in a traditional favorite of mine that you -never- hear ‘over here’. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vryl9QicJk Gaudete! And one more, because I remembered it as I searched, and it is heard ‘over here’, but still infrequently, Coventry Carol: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1khUv74ETHs

    Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, this is not.

  59. Sony wants me to buy their products.
    Do you think the fact that their name is mentioned as the reason I can’t be allowed to watch a YouTube video is going to make me
    ( ) more likely
    ( ) less likely
    to buy their products?

  60. Zaghadka says:

    My must haves for Christmas:

    Sycamore Tree – Ben Britten
    O Magnum Mysterium – Poulenc (and also the da Vittoria)
    Skating – Vince Guaraldi Trio (basically, it is not Christmas until the whole Charlie Brown soundtrack gets played)
    Good King Wenceslas

  61. Joe Cool says:

    Aw, Carol of the Bells (or Ukranian Bell Carol, as it is sometimes known, or Carol of the Birds, as it is known in Ukraine) is also one of my favorites. We have so much in common Shamus! We should be friends!

    I think I like it because it is a) a minor key, and b) has an upbeat tempo, which sets itself apart from a lot of other carols. I can play it fast on the piano without it sounding bad.

    My other favorites are “The Holly and the Ivy” as sung by Anonymous 4 (it’s not Christmas until I hear that), and “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”.

  62. Erunaamo says:

    – Linus and Lucy (the aforementioned Vince Guaraldi Trio)
    – Welcome Christmas (‘Fahoo fores’ from How the Grinch Stole Christmas)
    – and the aforementioned Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24, of course! …though I wish it had a simpler title.

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