Peter Bloesch Listen

Holiday Pops Music ~
FULL Orchestra & Chorus

“Ding Dong! Merrily on High”

(An arrangement of the 16th-century French melody)

See Description, Instrumentation, Text Info, and Reviews at bottom of page.


SCORING:  Large SATB chorus, accompanied by a large pops orchestra —
See the “Instrumentation” tab below.  DURATION:  ca. 3:30

DIFFICULTY:  While the choral parts are moderately difficult, the instrumental parts are rather challenging, so I recommend that this piece be performed only by professional players.


NOTE:  This arrangement is also available in a chamber-orchestra version.


I've always loved the quaintness of this carol, and my arrangement seeks to bring the text to life in a vivid and charming way.

The piece begins with the magical sound of a distant church bell (played on the chimes) amid the gentle flutter of trills in the string section. The men begin the first verse with an air of hushed excitement, as if they are truly awed by the fact that the sky “is riven with angel singing.”

The arrangement proceeds in a magical way, alternating between moods of hushed awe, playful celebration, and solemn majesty. The final “Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!” is grand and thrilling, and the piece ends on a note of high drama.


CHOIR:  Large SATB chorus

2 Flutes + 1 Piccolo
2 Oboes + 1 English Horn
3 Clarinets in Bb
2 Bassoons + 1 Contrabassoon

4 Horns
3 Trumpets in C
3 Trombones
1 Tuba

1 timpanist (4 timps), plus 3 percussionists on the following instruments: Glockenspiel, Xylophone, Chimes, Piatti, Suspended Cymbal, Snare Drum, Triangle

HARP:  1 Harp

KEYBOARD:  1 electronic keyboard with the following two sounds:  acoustic piano, celeste

STRINGS:  Ideally, a minimum of 10,10,8,8,6, but slightly less than this is also doable.


Ding Dong! Merrily on High

Words by G.R. Woodward (1848-1934)

Complete text:

Ding Dong! Merrily on high,
In heav'n the bells are ringing;
Ding Dong! Verily the sky
Is riv'n with angel singing.

      Gloria!  Hosanna in excelsis!

E'en so here below, below,
Let steeple bells be swungen,
And “io, io, io!”
By priest and people sungen.

      Gloria!  Hosanna in excelsis!

Pray you, dutifully prime
Your matin chime, ye ringers!
May you beautifully rhyme
Your evetime song, ye singers!

      Gloria!  Hosanna in excelsis!


Gregory Vajda, conductor and composer:

“Peter Bloesch's arrangement of 'Ding Dong! Merrily on High' is fun and imaginative. The Oregon Symphony musicians and I had great fun performing it!”

Gregory Vajda, Principal Conductor of the Hungarian Radio Symphony, and Former Resident Conductor of the Oregon Symphony


Richard P. Hoffman, conductor:

It was my happy privilege to work with Peter Bloesch on the première of his delightful work, 'Fantasia on Two Christmas Carols' [which contains 'Ding Dong! Merrily on High']. How refreshing and brilliant this piece turned out to be! 

Not content merely to write splendid choral music, Bloesch showed a mastery at orchestration as well, and the combined effect was dazzling. My choir was particularly impressed with Bloesch's choral writing and his thoughtful use of the voice. 

This work, and the holiday pieces which have followed in subsequent years, are destined to be found in the repertoire of fine orchestras and choruses everywhere.”  

Richard P. Hoffman, former Professor of Music Education and Choral Music, Coe College


Joe Harnell, Hollywood composer and arranger:

Your 'Fantasia on Two Christmas Carols' [which contains 'Ding Dong! Merrily on High'] is brilliant — fast and fun throughout.

I hope that orchestras and choruses around the country will take note of your arrangements, because they're terrific!

— Joe Harnell Film Composer, and Grammy Award-winning arranger for many celebrated singers, including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Beverly Sills