I made two great discoveries while researching this post, that (a) carol of the bells is Ukranian, and (b) Pink Martini has a Christmas album! So I'm happy. Pink Martini's version in fact has the Ukranian title, Shchedryk, which means bountiful. And the magical quality of the song? Apparently the folk chant this song is based on was thought to have magical properties. Pink Martini's Shchedryk does have a very folky feel, mainly due to the drums. It will definitely become one of my staples.
My current staples:
The Bird and The Bee's version was a discovery two Christmases ago, actually from one of the iTunes free singles of the week. It was my first exposure to them, though sadly I haven't found any of their other songs that I like as much as this one. I choose it for it's off center not quite traditional feel.
If Natalie Cole has a version, you can bet I'll list it as a fave. I choose it for its grandeur and mixture of Classical and Jazz.
It starts off with the promise of an ordinary Christmas song and then Natalie descends into scatting.
Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra have a lovely Christmas album that was last year's discovery. It's just a good version, though instrumental, and the words are part of the beauty of this song.
And finally, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, also just a good version.
What's your favorite version of the Carol of the Bells? I'm not aware of a Jamaican version, though the University Singers (affiliated with The University of the West Indies) do a lovely version. Or, do you have some reason for somehow not loving this song?