Ding! Dong! Merrily on High

The melody of this carol is actually a french tune called 'Branle de L'Official' which is included in the Orchesographie, a record of 16th century music and dance choreography. Originally the tune would have been played on a single melody instrument, perhaps a flute or viol, and accompanied by a drum. For contemporary listeners, the Ionian mode (i.e. major mode) had associations of uninhibited pleasure and amusement. The text was added much later by two English tune collectors eager to expand the English carol repertoire.

Ding! dong! merrily on high

In heav'n the bells are ringing;

Ding! dong! verily the sky

Is riv'n with angels singing.

Gloria! Hosanna in excelsis!

Pray you, dutifully prime

Your matin chime, ye ringers!

May you beautifully rime

Your evetime song, ye singers!

Gloria! Hosanna in excelsis!

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© Mary Vanhoozer 2020