I have heard Carol of the Bells first on the Christmas CD “Blue Grass & White Snow” by Patty Loveless. According to the the reviews it was played by members of the Nashville Mandolin Ensemble – with mandolins, mandocellos, guitars, flute and tubular bells – a very beautiful (and I think still my favorite) version of this song. You can find a review of this CD at: http://countrymusic.about.com/od/cdreviewsal/fr/BlugrassWhtSnow.htm
Unfortunately this version is not available at youtube.
But there are many, many videos at youtube, and I have selected my favorite versions with plucked instruments for this post.
Carol of the Bells: John King ukulele
Classical guitarist Phillip Lester demonstrates his solo fingerstyle guitar arrangement of Carol of the Bells.
Carol of the Bells – Tom & Krystin perform this traditional carol from their Christmas Guitars CD.
“Carol of the Bells” by Eric Loy (Harp Guitar)
A very special instrument – the harp guitar – is used in the following video:
And finally a beautiful version with a mandolin and two guitars:
Many more versions with Tubas, Cellos, Percussion ensemble, One Man/Woman Choirs, Jazz Choirs, School Choirs, Church Choirs, Pop-Stars like Destinys Child or the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, instructions for guitar can be found in my playlist Carol of the Bells.
I have found several sources for free sheet music of Carol of the Bells
The first is a version of for a recorder ensemble with finger cymbals and triangle – this might also be played with mandolins and guitars – just try it:
Amy L. Heavilin: Carol of the Bells (recorder)
A version for four cellos ca be fond in the Folk Cello Blog: Carol of the Bells (Cello)
TABs for the ukulele version by John King can be found at: http://www.nalu-music.com/ukulele-tablature/carol-of-the-bells-ukulele/
Two versions for piano can be found at: http://www.music-for-music-teachers.com/ukrainian-bell-carol.html
On the following page you can also find a version of Carol of the Bells (Ukrainian Bells) wuth a playlog file to practice and some other christmas carols: http://www.musicstudents.com/archive/christmas.html
More free sheet music sites for christmas carols from Germany and other countries can be found on my homepage, direct link to the page (only German – I will translate this and add it as a post in this blog): http://www.mandoisland.de/noten2009/weihnachten.html
Many information about Carol of the Bells, including a list of notable performances of this piece can be found at wikipedia: Carol of the Bells
Nashville Mandolin Ensemble at myspace: http://www.myspace.com/nashvillemandolinensemble
Homepage Patty Loveless: http://www.pattyloveless.com/
Harp guitars: http://www.harpguitars.net/
Playlist: Carol of the Bells
Link collection – free sheetmusic for christmas: http://pinboard.in/u:mandoisland/t:weihnachten/t:noten
Mandozine Tabs for Christmas: http://www.mandozine.com/music/
Recommendation for guitar players (Amazon partnerlink)
Fingerpicking Christmas: 20 Carols Arranged for Solo Guitar in Notes & Tablature