It's the Christmas season, which means it is — by default — the Christmas carol season, as well. But do you know the story behind the beloved carol "Do You Hear What I Hear"?

Turns out, it was co-written by a Massachusetts woman, isn't as old as you might think it is, and there's more to the song than meets the ear.

In the summer of 1962, Bobby Vinton was once again climbing the Billboard Hot 100 chart with his single, "Rain, Rain Go Away." The tune was the result of the latest collaboration from the husband and wife songwriting duo of Noël Regney and Gloria Shayne.

"In my memory, they were just always at the piano. They were always composing," said Gabrielle Regney, a New Hampshire attorney and Noël and Gloria’s daughter.

"They were born to do this. It was in their blood. They existed for their music and for each other. That’s when they came alive," she said.

They were also something of an unlikely pair. Gloria Shayne was one of four children raised in Brookline by a single mother, something her daughter said was "unheard of at the time."

Her father, Noël, was born in Strasbourg, France, and had spent time living in Vietnam in the late 1940s.

What they shared was a gift for music. Both had embarked on careers in music when their paths crossed in New York City — and their lives changed forever.

"He was on tour [when] he met my mother," explained Gabrielle Regney. "She was playing piano, I believe, at the Ritz. They were soulmates and married a few weeks later and began an incredible career together."

Noël Regney and Gloria Shayne’s musical compositions would be recorded by some of the biggest pop music stars of their day, including Jo Stafford, Eddie Fisher and Doris Day.

"The usual collaboration was, my mother would write the words because she had much more of a pop sense," said Regney. "And my father was more of an avant-garde writer, so he would write the music."

But their biggest hit would not only not be a pop song, but also a reverse collaboration — with Shayne composing an inspired, contemplative melody to Regney’s lyrics.

In late 1962, the duo was commissioned to compose a B-side for a single. The job came in at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

"With the prospect of unspeakable war, my father was walking around New York and saw some babies and was very moved — and wrote the lyrics for 'Do You Hear What I Hear,'" said Regney.

The horrors of war were something Noël Regney knew all too well. As a teenager in occupied France during World War II, he was conscripted into the Nazi army, eventually fleeing to fight with the French resistance.

"He had to do some pretty hard things to get himself out of that," said Regney of her father's efforts to defect from the Nazi army. "Things that I think really much scarred him."

Despite outward appearances, Gabrielle Regney said "Do You Hear What I Hear" was not intended as a religious song.

"My parents were not religious at all," she said. "My mother was raised Jewish, my father was brought up in the Catholic Church but left it. It really always blows my mind to think about how the two of them wrote a very Christian song."

While artfully couched in the iconography of the Christian nativity, the songwriters were making a political statement: a plea for peace, and a reminder of the ravages of war.

The song opens with the night wind speaking to a lamb, long a literary symbol of peace. Soon we hear the line, "A star, a star, dancing in the sky//With a tail as big as a kite."

"The star was meant to be a bomb," said Gabrielle Regney.

Later we hear the lyrics "A child, a child, shivers in the cold," which Regney said is a reference to the "real children" who inspired the song.

And the line, "Let us bring him silver and gold" was a reference to "poor children," said Regney — a reminder of the human cost of war.

But no matter how you interpret the song, Noël Regney and Gloria Shayne left no mistake about the central message at the climax of the song.

"The biggest part for them was the 'pray for peace' line," said Regney. "That line, 'pray for peace,' was very big for both of them."

The song was first recorded that year by the Harry Simeone Chorale, and sold more than 250,000 copies in its first week. Bing Crosby’s version the following year sold more than a million. And thus, a new holiday standard was born.