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Jingle Bells

[ Roud 25804 ; Ballad Index RJ19093 ; DT JNGLBLL ; Mudcat 53794 , 41750 ; James Lord Pierpont, 1857]

Jingle Bells is one of the best-known and commonly sung winter songs in the world. It was written by James Lord Pierpont (1822–1893) and published under the title One Horse Open Sleigh in 1857. Even though it is commonly referred to as a Christmas song, it was actually written and sung for Thanksgiving. It was mistakenly branded as a Christmas song because being extremely popular at Thanksgiving, it was sung again around Christmas. [Wikipedia]

John Kirkpatrick et al. sang a parody of Jingle Bells as one of four children’s rhymes on the Folkworks project and subsequent 1998 Fellside CD Wassail!. He noted:

Words learnt from the Kirkpatrick offspring. The extraordinary version of the tune was recorded from Suffolk fiddler Fred Whiting in the late 1970s.

Jon Boden sang Jingle Bells as the 16 December 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day, and he and Eliza Carthy sang it in 2023 on their Hudson album Glad Christmas Comes. Jon Boden noted:

Written in 1850 by James Lord Pierpont. Nothing says Christmas like people laughing at other people who have fallen on their arse in the snow.


Jon Boden sings Jingle Bells

Dashing through the snow on a one-horse open sleigh,
Over the fields we go, laughing all the way.
Bells on bobtail ring, making spirits bright,
Oh what fun to ride and sing a sleighing song tonight!

Chorus (after each verse):
O Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
O, what fun it is to ride on a one-horse open sleigh.

A day or two ago I thought I’d take a ride,
And soon Miss Fannie Bright was seated at my side.
The horse was lean and lank, misfortune seemed his lot,
We got into a drifted bank and then we got upsot.

A day or two ago, a story I must tell:
I went out on the snow and on my arse I fell;
A gent was riding by on a one-horse open sleigh,
He laughed as I there sprawling lay but quickly rode away.

Now while 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,
And hitch him to an open sleigh and crack! you’ll take the lead.