December 1, 2022

Why ‘Jingle Bells’ is popular among Christmas songs

By Biodun Busari

One of the most popular Christmas songs is Jingle Bells, and the atmosphere will be filled with delight again as December starts today.

‘Jingle Bells’ is arguably the Christmas song one learns to sing in school and probably best in carol service.

The song was composed by James Lord Pierpont who was a native of Medford, Massachusetts, US and made its debut in 1850.

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Pierpont, an American songwriter and organist wrote the song to commemorate the town’s annual sleigh races around Thanksgiving.

Historians said he published the song in 1857 under “One Horse Open Sleigh.” It had three verses in addition to the one typically sung today.

The song details a young couple who are riding and tipping their sleigh in a snowdrift. As its popularity increased, the song became known as “Jingle Bells,” referring to the jolly refrain.

It was first recorded in 1889 on an Edison cylinder. While that recording no longer exists, the second one from 1898 can still be found online.

Since then, artists such as Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, (and more recently Gwen Stefani and Lauren Daigle) have all put their signature spins on the ubiquitous tune.

This among other reasons is why ‘Jingle Bells’ remains the most popular among all the Christmas songs.

In 1965, “Jingle Bells” became the first song broadcast from space when the astronauts aboard Gemini 6 decided to play a prank on Mission Control and performed the song on a harmonica and actual jingle bells they had smuggled on board.