History behind the Christmas carol Do you hear what I hear?

Cheryl E Preston

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Do you hear what I hear?Photo byGodtube screenshot

There's more to Do you hear what I hear than many realize

Do you hear what I hear is a popular Christmas song that turns 60 this year and has been recorded hundreds of times since it was written in November 1962. As is the case with most beloved musical compositions there are some little-known facts behind this tune. While it's not considered a hymn this song does reflect upon the birth of Christ but if you thought a Christian who celebrated Jesus wrote this popular holiday song you would be wrong.

Gloria Shayne Baker co-wrote Do you hear what I hear with her first husband Frenchman Noel Regney who grew up Catholic but later joined Unitarian Universalism. Baker's situation was a bit more complicated because she was Jewish. In those early days of Hollywood, Jewish Americans had to go above and beyond just to get a shot at a Hollywood career so their talent could be utilized .

Hollywood was not kind to Jewish people in the entertainment business

One difficult choice Jews in Hollywood often made was to change the spelling of their names or take on a completely different moniker. You can read a list of 9 people in the entertainment industry who made that unfortunate choice at this link.

Baker was born Gloria Adele Shain on September 4, 1923, and her family lived next door to Joseph and Rose Kennedy the parents of president John F Kennedy. Gloria began singing with her sisters at a young age but later changed her last name to Shayne for "professional reasons".

Singing songs you don't believe in your heart

Messianic Jews accept Jesus as their Savior but those who practice traditional Judaism do not and are still waiting for the Messiah. So Shain/ Shayane/ Baker a Jew and Regney a Universalist who did not believe Christ to be the Savior wrote a song about His birth basically because they needed the money. Most holiday tunes that were penned by those who were Jewish are secular in nature and while Do you know what I know does not call Jesus by Name the song is about the night He was born.

People in the entertainment industry do what they have to do to survive and remain relevant. Consider David Bowie who explored many religions yet sang Peace on Earth/ The Little Drummer Boy with Bing Crosby. Werner Klemperer and John Banner who starred in Hogan's Heroes were both Jewish yet they sang Silent Night (also on Crosby's show )which is about the night of the first Christmas.

Do you hear what I hear is a holiday classic

Gloria Shayne Baker and Noel Regney might have written Do you hear what I hear as a way to maintain their bread and butter but they created a hit the world loves the song and continues to be a holiday staple six decades later. It's unbelievable that Americans who desired Hollywood careers once felt they had no choice but to change their identities in order to be given a break. Having said that Baker and Regney wrote one of the most beautiful and beloved Christmas songs ever.

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I write, about breaking news, and current events. I wrote a newspaper column from 1997 to 2007 and have written for various online platforms since 2012 including Yahoo Contributor Network, Hubpages, and Vocal Media.

Roanoke, VA
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