The Complete History of Jingle Bells

• 1m to read •
We discover the history behind Jingle Bells as one of the best-known and most popular Christmas songs in the world. Did you know 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"?
The Complete History of Jingle Bells | Love to Sing

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 was the First Song Played in 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.

What are the lyrics to Jingle Bells?

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

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

Now the ground is white
Go it while you're young
Take the girls tonight
Sing this sleighing song
Get a bobtailed bay
Two forty for his speed
And hitch him to an open sleigh
And you will take the lead

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


Jingle Bells has a long and interesting history, and it’s one that is often forgotten in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. We hope you enjoyed this look at the story behind Jingle Bells. Now that you know the complete history, why not share it with your friends and family?

 

 

Subscribe to our Christmas Club and get a free song!

Popular reading

Subscribe to our Christmas Club and get a free song!