December 13, 2012 | Vol. 116 -- No. 34

Enthusiasm for singing ‘Jingle Bells’ spans many decades

Of Cabbages and Kings

Jingle Bells has been noted as “One of the greatest hits of Christmas.”

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A sledder catches some air on the hill just off Oakland between Ninth and Tenth streets north of Eastern Washington University’s dorms after the big snowstorm of January 2008. While not quite the same, it was a similar activity that got James S. Pierpont’s creative juices flowing to write “Jingle Bells” for his father in 1840.

James S. Pierpont wrote the song in 1840 as a Thanksgiving song for his father. The elder Piermont was a pastor in the Unitarian Church at Medford, Mass.

The younger Pierpont hadn’t started out to write a song. He had decided to take a break from writing one day and watch children coasting down a sled hill. They reminded him of racing horse-drawn sleds when he was a boy. Some lyrics came to his mind and he soon was humming a tune with “one horse open sleigh” in it. He visited a neighbor lady’s home and playe...

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