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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

JINGLE BELLS

FAMOUS NEW ENGLAND CHRISTMAS SONGS

JINGLE BELLS

Did you know that Jingle Bells was originally titled “One Horse Open Sleigh?” James Pierpont (1822-1893) composed and published this piece sometime in the 1850s. Many people believe Pierpont wrote the ditty in Medford, Massachusetts at the Simpson Tavern, a local business. Sleigh rides and the necessity and popularity of sleighs in the early 1800s helped inspire Pierpont. In 1857, Pierpont copyrighted and published the song, then again in 1859 with today’s title. By this time, Pierpont had relocated to Georgia. Some people claim that the timeline does not add up, and that Pierpont must have written the song in Savannah. No matter, Pierpont was born and raised in Boston and attended boarding school in New Hampshire, making him a legitimate New England native. So, even if he didn’t write the song in Medford (and we may never know the truth), he was from New England and was inspired by a traditional New England winter pastime.

Music historian James Fuld notes that "the word jingle in the title and opening phrase is apparently an imperative verb."[8] In the winter in New England in pre-automobile days, it was common to adorn horses' harnesses with straps bearing bells as a way to avoid collisions at blind intersections, since a horse-drawn sleigh in snow makes almost no noise. The rhythm of the tune mimics that of a trotting horse's bells. However, "jingle bells" is commonly taken to mean a certain kind of bell.
Jingle Bells
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.
Although less well-known than the opening, the remaining verses depict high-speed youthful fun. In the second verse, the narrator takes a ride with a girl and loses control of the 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]
|: chorus :|
One Horse Open Sleigh
Title page
First half of the chorus
Second half of the chorus and other verses
Musical notations of the original version
In the next verse (which is often skipped), he falls out of the sleigh and a rival laughs at him:
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.
|: chorus :|
In the last verse, after relating his experience, he gives equestrian advice to a friend to pick up some girls, find a faster horse, and take off at full speed:
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[b]
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack! you'll take the lead.
|: chorus :|
Notes to lyrics
  1. Jump up ^ Upsot is an alternative poetic version of upset. (drunkard).
  2. Jump up ^ Two forty refers to a mile in two minutes and forty seconds at the trot, or 22.5 miles per hour. This is a good speed, and suggests the horse should be a Standardbred.

Original lyrics[edit]

The two first stanzas and chorus of the original 1857 lyrics differed slightly from those we know today. It is unknown who replaced the words with those of the modern version.[8]
Dashing thro' the snow,
In a one-horse open sleigh,
O'er the hills we go,
Laughing all the way;
Bells on bob tail ring,
Making spirits bright,
Oh what sport to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight.

|: chorus :|
Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way;
Oh! what joy it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

A day or two ago
I tho't I'd take a ride
And soon Miss Fannie 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.

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