Ever hear a song on the radio and say to yourself, “Oh, hey! I haven’t heard that song in ages. I really liked it!”. Well, “Ding Dong Merrily on High” is that Christmas song for me. The tune is delightful (but a bear to sing well because the chorus is two long phrases and you need great breath control to do it right) and rarely performed at the sprightly pace it deserves.
It could be the difficult of the chorus is the reason it’s not sung very often, or it could be the lyrics (penned in the mid 1920s) aren’t all that easy to understand. Here, for example, is the second verse.
E’en so here below, below,
Let steeple bells be swungen,
And “Io, io, io!”
By priest and people sungen.
Right. Swungen and sungen aren’t words you see every day, though you used to, and we replaced “io, io, io” with “huzzah!” and “Hip, hip, hooray” a long time ago. Maybe “Ding Dong Merrily on High” is a tough song, unwelcome on radio stations that put John Lennon’s execrable Xmas whinge in heavy rotation. I don’t know. I think it’s worth bringing back because when it’s done right — at the right tempo with a huge dollop of exuberance — it’s magical.
Even better when it’s done right by a quintet of beautiful and extremely talented Irish women. Enjoy.