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Kenny G - We Three Kings/Carol of the Bells (1999)

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Uploaded on Nov 27, 2010

"We Three Kings", also known as "We Three Kings of Orient Are" or "The Quest of the Magi", is a Christmas carol written by the Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr., who wrote both the lyrics and the music. It is suggested to have been written in 1857 but did not appear in print until his Carols, Hymns and Song in 1863. "Carol of the Bells" is a choral miniature work composed by the Ukrainian Mykola Leontovych. Leontovych's composition, is characterised by the use of a four note motif as an ostinato figure throughout the work. This ostinato figure is an ancient pagan Ukrainian New Year's (originally celebrated in April) magical chant known in Ukrainian as "Shchedryk" [the Generous One]. Leontovych originally created the piece as an assignment for a harmony course he was taking by correspondence to demonstrate the use of a device known as ostinato. The original work was intended to be sung a cappella by mixed 4-voice choir. Two other settings of the composition were also created by Leontovych: one for woman's choir (unaccompanied) and another for children's choir with piano accompaniment. The original Ukrainian version has internal linguistic accents within the text that employ a device known as hemiola, although non-Ukrainian and instrumental recordings neglect to incorporate this change of meter into their performances. Although the first version of the composition was composed in 1904, it first premiered in December 1916 performed by a student choral group at Kiev University. It was introduced to Western audiences by the Ukrainian National Chorus during its concert tour of Europe and the Americas, where it premiered in the United States on October 5, 1921 at Carnegie Hall. An copyrighted English text was created by Peter Wilhousky in the 1930s, and since then it has been performed and sung worldwide during the Christmas season. It's initial popularity stemmed largely from Wilhousky's ability to perform it to a wide audience in his role as arranger for NBC radio's symphony orchestra. It would later be assisted to further popularity by featuring in television advertisements for champagne. An alternate English version ("Ring, Christmas Bells") featuring more Nativity-based lyrics, written by Minna Louise Hohman in 1947, is also common.

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