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History Tidbit

History Tidbit: Jingle Bells

It’s September and, in my country (Philippines), we celebrate the Christmas season as soon as the –ber months starts to roll in. As such, I thought it would be nice to know a little bit more about the most popular Christmas carol.

Did you know that…

  • this song was written by James Lord Pierpont
  • it was published under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh” in September 16, 1857
  • it was reprinted in 1859 with the revised title of “Jingle Bells, or the One Horse Open Sleigh
  • it is now under public domain (yes we are not committing any copyright infringement during our office caroling)
  • although it is now more popularly sung during the Christmas season, it was originally written to be sung during (American) thanksgiving
  • it was the first song broadcast from space, in a Christmas-themed prank by Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra
  • Jingle Bells, Batman Smells” is a parody sang by Bart Simpson on The Simpsons Christmas special entitled “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” and The Joker in the Batman: The Animated Series episode “Christmas with the Joker
  • SpongeBob also has a parody of the “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells” parody featuring Mermaidman and Barnacleboy . Other parodies includes Yogi Yorgesson’s “Yingle Bells“, Da Yoopers’ “Rusty Chevrolet“, Bucko and Champs’ “Aussie Jingle Bells“, The Three Stooges’ “Jingle Bell Drag” and Jeff Dunham’s “Jingle Bombs“, performed in his “Achmed the Dead Terrorist” sketch

Below is the popular rendition of the song:

Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bobtail ring’
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight!

-chorus-
Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way.
Oh! what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.
Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way;
Oh! what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

… and here are the less popular second and third verses:

A day or two ago
I thought I’d take a ride
And soon, Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side,
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And then we got upsot.
-chorus-
Now the ground is white
Go it while you’re young,
Take the girls tonight
and sing this sleighing song;
Just get a bobtailed bay
Two forty as his speed
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack! you’ll take the lead.
-chorus-

Now, here is the original lyrics as it was written in 1857:

Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh
O’er the hills we go
Laughing all the way.
Bells on bobtail ring
Making spirits bright
Oh what sport to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight.

-chorus-
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way!
O what joy it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

A day or two ago
I thought I’d take a ride
And soon Miss Fannie Bright
Was seated by my side.
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And we – we got upsot.
-chorus-
A day or two ago
The story I must tell
I went out on the snow
And on my back I fell;
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh,
He laughed as there I sprawling lie,
But quickly drove away,
-chorus-
Now the ground is white
Go it while you’re young,
Take the girls tonight
And sing this sleighing song:
Just get a bobtailed bay
Two forty is his speed
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack! You’ll take the lead.
-chorus-

And lastly, here is the sheet music:

Jingle Bells sheet music

Jingle Bells sheet music

sources: Wikipedia, NYTimes, Jingle Bells Lyrics

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