orchid

The Carol of the Year ended in 2010, with the death of William Studwell, who took on the task of naming the Carol of the Year in 1986. He began with “Carol of the Bells” and ended with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Pantone’s first Color of the Year was Cerulean Blue in 2000. This year’s is Radiant Orchid. I like this color a lot. Some — like Tangerine Tango and Sand Dollar — have taken me a while to warm up to, but this is a lovely color.

There’s no law that you have to use the Pantone colors, of course, but I like to introduce a bit of randomness into my life, and I find it fun to plan SWAPs with the Official Colors. This year includes a lot of great colors — Hemlock and Cayenne especially appeal to me, and of course gray is my go-to neutral.When that happens, it makes sense to take advantage of it.

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As for the Carol of the Year, I’ve never really paid much attention to it, but “Carol of the Bells” is indeed something. #1 son calls it “Death March of the Bells,” and he has a point. It has an insistent beat that gets louder and louder. It can certainly make you think of bells… especially of bells killing someone in the belfry through sheer sound energy.

The words are cheerful, if rather dumb:

Hark! How the bells, sweet silver bells
All seem to say, “Throw cares away.”
Christmas is here, bringing good cheer
To young and old, meek and the bold
Ding, dong, ding, dong, that is their song,
With joyful ring, all caroling
One seems to hear words of good cheer
From everywhere, filling the air
Oh!, how they pound, raising the sound
O’er hill and dale, telling their tale

Gaily they ring, while people sing
Songs of good cheer, Christmas is here!
Merry, merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas!
Merry, merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas!

On, on they send, on without end
Their joyful tone to every home
Hark! How the bells, sweet silver bells
All seem to say, “Throw cares away.”
Christmas is here, bringing good cheer
To young and old, meek and the bold
Ding, dong, ding, dong, that is their song
With joyful ring, all caroling.
One seems to hear words of good cheer
From everywhere, filling the air
O, how they pound, raising the sound
O’er hill and dale, telling their tale

Gaily they ring, while people sing
Songs of good cheer, Christmas is here!
Merry, merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas!
Merry, merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas!

On, on they send, on without end
Their joyful tone to every home.
Ding dong ding dong…
Dumm…..

The composer was Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych, a Uniterian pastor. His original words, in whatever they speak in the Ukraine, was about a swallow with good wishes for the new year. A guy named Peter J. Wilhousky wrote the English words. The piece was based on Ukrainian folk songs, but in its current form was first performed in 1916 — in 1921 in English.

The song is less scary sounding if you just sing the melody, but then of course you’re losing the fiendish effect of the aggressive choral version. Here’s a compromise:

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