Jingle Bells


Perhaps the most treasured aspects of the holiday season are the songs that are the soundtrack to the Christmas rush. Heard over department store sound systems, in the car on the way to work or even on a snowy evening sung by a group of festive carolers, the spirit of the season definitely shines through the words of classic carols.

What we think of as our favorite Christmas carols actually are a blend of old hymns, folk songs, medieval plainsongs and songs written for other holidays, as well as what are considered to be true, written-for-the-occasion Christmas carols.

One of the most widely sung carols, “Jingle Bells,” originally was written by James Pierpont for a Thanksgiving program to be given by his Sunday school class at a church in Boston, according to “A Christmas Celebration in Song and Story” (A Perigee Book), edited by Al Remson.

If the second verse were sung more often, it would become obvious that the song merely is about a free-spirited ride through the countryside. Many writers have concluded that the “jingle bells” refrain actually refers to the bells worn by horses in the era in which the song was written.

Whether intended for Christmas or not, the song still represents the merry winter season.

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!

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.

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.

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.