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Jul 20

Music Notes: Jingle Bells and Thanksgiving

Posted on July 20, 2017 at 3:41 PM by Elizabeth Land

Notes from the Music Staff logoStaff Note: Notes from the Music Staff is a series of posts discussing what the library offers music fans. From our widely varied collection of music CDs to our nonfiction and fiction books covering all aspects of music, we've got something for everyone and we want to share our love of music with you!

We at the York County Library want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! The Thanksgiving holiday hours for both branches are as follows:

2016 Thanksgiving Closing Schedule for the York County Virginia Library

Speaking of Thanksgiving, while it may seem a little early to discuss Christmas music, now is actually the perfect time to discuss one of America's most popular Yuletide tunes: "Jingle Bells". Penned by James Lord Pierpont in 1850s Savannah, GA, "Jingle Bells" — originally titled "The One Horse Open Sleigh" — was intended to be played for Thanksgiving.

A historical marker installed in Savannah, Georgia, explores the history of Jingle Bells

Another fun fact about the tune is its disputed birthplace. While the official historical marker, pictured above, is located at the local Unitarian church where Pierpont played the organ, some sources insist Pierpont was belting the melody earlier when he lived in Medford, MA.

Check out a selection of the original lyrics for "Jingle Bells":

1. Dashing through the snow
On a one-horse open sleigh,
Over 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.

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

2. 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 we, we got upsot.


"Jingle Bells" was renamed in 1857 when it was first published as sheet music. Decades passed before it became famous. It was the first song ever broadcast in space, on December 16, 1965. The crew of Gemini 6 followed reports of seeing Santa Claus with an improvised version of "Jingle Bells," using bells and a harmonica they snuck onboard.

Check out more resources about this and other famous Christmas tunes:

And don't miss out on our festive collection of holiday music, on display now at both library branches.