The Complete History of Jingle Bells

The Christmas carol Jingle Bells has been around for over 150 years and is now the most popular Christmas Carol in the World. But how did this all happen? In this blog post, we'll look at the complete history of Jingle Bells and find out what it means today. 

Jingle Bells was Written as a Bit of a Romance Song

Jingle Bells is one of the most popular Christmas songs in the world. The Christmas song was written as a slightly racy romance song about an unchaperoned ride by James Lord Pierpont and published under the title "One Horse Open Sleigh" in the autumn of 1857. The title was changed to “Jingle Bells” two years later by Pierpont when he copyrighted the song.

Did you know Jingle Bells was first performed at a Thanksgiving church service and was never intended to be a Christmas song as there is no mention of Christmas in the lyrics?!

Jingle Bells is One of the Most Performed Songs

In recognition of the achievement of Jingle Bells being one of the most performed songs worldwide, James Lord Pierpont was voted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. Famous artists who have rerecorded the song include Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Dolly Parton, Perry Como, The Beatles, Andrea Bocelli, Eric Clapton, Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Plácido Domingo, Pearl Jam, Pentatonix, Gwen Stefani, Natalie Cole, Michael Buble, Luciano Pavarotti and of course our Love to Sing choir, which, amazingly, is the most watched Jingle Bells on YouTube.

Jingle Bells is First Song Played from Space

Jingle Bells was the first song broadcast from space, in a Christmas-themed prank by the 6 astronauts while in space on December 16, 1965. They sent this report to Mission Control:

“Gemini VII, this is Gemini VI. We have an object, looks like a satellite going from north to south, probably in polar orbit.... Looks like he might be going to re-enter soon.... You just might let me pick up that thing.... I see a command module and eight smaller modules in front. The pilot of the command module is wearing a red suit." The astronauts then produced a smuggled harmonica and sleigh bells and broadcast a rendition of Jingle Bells to celebrate the start of the holiday season! Today, those bells and harmonica are on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Jingle Bells Lyrics
Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh
O'er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bob tail ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight!
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.
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.
Repeat 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.
Repeat 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.
Repeat Chorus

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