Do You Hear What I Hear?

In October 1962, The Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world to the brink of Nuclear War.   As a child, I remember pushing our desks to the inside wall and squat under them.  Poor Peter who was too tall in second grade to fit under his desk had to go stand in the teacher’s closet.  We were told that missiles could hit New York City and if they did, we ninety miles away were in the heat blast zone.  No amount of squatting under a desk or hiding in a wooden closet would save us but we pretended as if it would. 

It was during this month that Unitarian Noel Regney (he was a member of the Westport CT congregation, do not know if he was a member in 1962) was walking along a NYC street and saw some babies being strolled by their mothers.  He decided to write a poem as a prayer for their future.  He asked his wife, Gloria Shayne, to write the music.  They had collaborated on other songs, but with Gloria usually writing the words.   The song was first released by Thanksgiving 1962 and became an instant hit.  People hearing it for the first time on the radio would pull over to listen to its lyrics.  Such was the power and poignancy of this song.  The following year, Bing Crosby recorded its quintessential recording.  The popularity of the song has soared ever since.  [The source of this information is found here]  Here is another version of the song.  It remains for me a powerful prayer in song for peace.  May it be so. 



  1. I was fascinated that a UU had written a popular song, christmas related or otherwise.
    It’s a wonderful song

    [Unitarian and Universalists have been just as prolific in writing popular songs, christmas related or otherwise, as any other person who claims a religious faith. Edward Hamilton Sears, A Unitarian Minister from Wayland, MA wrote the words to “It Came upon A Midnight Clear.” Unitarian poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote “I heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” John Pierpont, a Unitarian Minister from Boston, wrote the very popular “Jingle Bells.”

    All of these songs have been embraced and well loved by people far and wide. Noel Regney’s words “Do You Hear what I Hear” is another wonderful song in a long lineage of Unitarian Universalists’ contribution to music.]

  2. I was in both elementary school and the Westport Unitarian church in 1962. I don’t remember Regney, but I remember the song. In my public school, we never did any of those civil defense drills. I guess they knew that if the balloon went up we were toast.

    [Thanks for writing. I don’t know when Regney joined the Westport congregation, it may well have been long after 1962. I do know he was indeed a member before he died. Westport being so much closer to Manhattan than where I was raised, that they probably knew they would not even have time to blink let alone sit under desks. It was a crazy time. We did those civil defense drills up through junior highschool which for me would have been till about 1968.]

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