The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Ring The Bells, The Christmas Bells

Words: Mary Holden Coggeshall Seward (July 9, 2839-September 1, 1919). Mary's work often appeared anonymously, and also under the pseudonym “Agnes Burney.”

Music: Numerous settings; see below

Meter: 77 77 77 77

Source: Carol 68, Rev. Charles Lewis Hutchins, Carols Old and Carols New (Boston: Parish Choir), 1916

1. Ring the bells, the Christmas bells;
Chime out the wondrous story;
First in song on Angel tongues
It came from realms of glory;
Peace on earth, good-will to men,
Angelic voices ringing
Christ the Lord to earth has come,
His glorious message bringing.

Ring the bells, the merry Christmas bells;
Chime out the wondrous story,
Glory be to God on high,
For evermore be glory.

Alt. Chorus
Ring the merry Christmas bells;
Chime out the wondrous story;
Glory be to God on high,
For evermore be glory.

2. Wise men hastened from the East
To bring their richest treasure
Gold, and myrrh, and frankincense
And jewels without measure.
Him they sought, although a King,
They found in birthplace lowly,
There within a manger lay
The Babe so pure and holy. Chorus

3. Earthly crowns were not for Him;
He came God’s love revealing;
On the Cross He died for us,
His blood forgiveness sealing.
‘Tis the Saviour promised long,
Ring out your loudest praises;
Every heart this happy day
Its grateful anthems raises. Chorus

Graphic Line

Sheet Music from Charles L. Hutchins

Carol 68, Music by Arthur H. Brown
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Ring_The_Bells_68a.gif (97596 bytes)

Ring_The_Bells_68b.gif (121669 bytes)

Carol 218, Music by T. C. Dean
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Ring_The_Bells_218-a.gif (307776 bytes)

Ring_The_Bells_218-b.gif (114677 bytes)

Carol 254, Music by C. Erskine
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Ring_The_Bells_254.gif (230288 bytes)

Carol 333, Music by Alfred Oake
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Ring_The_Bells_333.gif (401794 bytes)

Sheet Music from Arthur Henry Brown, ed., In Excelsis Gloria-Carols for Christmastide (London: Thomas Bosworth & Co., 1885), Carol #3, pp. 6-7.

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    The earliest occurrence that I've found is Robert Lowry, ed., Bright Jewels for the Sunday School (New York: Biglow & Main, 1869), p. 122, with a setting by Theodore F. Seward (Mary's husband):

    Four settings for this carol occur in Charles L. Hutchins, ed., Carols Old and Carols New (Boston: The Parish Choir, 1916). The settings include those by Arthur H. Brown (#68), T.C. Dean (#218), C. Erskine (#254), and Alfred Oake (#333); all of these versions feature the "Alt. Chorus" above.

    The most popular setting seems to be that by Sir. Arthur H. (A.H.) Brown. Also occurs in:

    According to a note in “The Musical Times”, v. 38, December 1, 1897, p. 824, this carol was published in the Novello Christmas Carols series as No. 275, words by Agnes Burney and music by the late Sir Joseph Barnby, “...and its strains attest to the skill of this musician in writing effectively for voices in harmony. The descant of the basses through an octave on a fourth, while the other voice parts ascent, most happily illustrates the subject of the text.” I have been unable to locate a copy of that setting.

    A lengthy biography of Mary Seward is found at Wikipedia: Mary C. Seward <>, accessed July 28, 2009.

    A personal note to thanks to Bob Douglas who provided a tip to the authorship of this carol.

    This carol should not be confused with “Ring, Ring The Bells,” where the following line occurs at the beginning of the second verse: “Ring, ring the bells, the Christmas bells, For in their joyous chime ...”

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