The words are often sung prior to and at Christmas but … the words are words for all times: “Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear? Do you know what I know?” And those words invite reflection:
Do we really see what others see?
Does everyone see the pain of the homeless – their fear? their confusion? their helplessness?
Do we really hear what others hear?
Does everyone hear the cry of the abused? the lonely? the angry? the addicted? the powerless?
Do we really know what others know?
Does everyone know the authentic, real truth? Was American politician, (sociologist, diplomat, member of the Democratic Party who served as an adviser to Republican President Richard Nixon), Patrick Moynahan, correct in thinking that “everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion, but not to his/her own facts”?
These questions likely began to slowly form when a young French-born musician found himself, against his will, drafted into the German army when France was overwhelmed by Nazi troops during WW11.
Noel Regney endured the horrors of war as a young man. He hated every moment of it and many years later, he moved to the United States. When the Cuban Missile Crisis brought a sense of despair to the United States in October 1962, he was devastated. Again. When he was asked by a record producer to write a Christmas song, he struggled to find anything that would give a sense of Christmas hope and peace.
One day, he noticed two babies in strollers, looking at one another and smiling, and thought of newborn lambs. Before he knew it, a first line had been written and the rest of the lyrics quickly followed. When he shared his words with his pianist and composer wife, Gloria Shayne, a gentle and haunting melody quickly appeared and between them “Do You Hear What I Hear” was born and became a well-known song at Christmas. Regney’s favourite version was sung by Robert Goulet though the most well-known version was sung by Bing Crosby. Sadly, its message of global peace was initially lost on many. Perhaps it is time to have it surface again, and not just at Christmas time?
Hope … intangible hope evidenced in the presence of a lamb in the image of a Child in hearts, in minds, in spirits.
Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne