What you didn’t know about 4 famous Christmas Carols
Every year we hear and sing the same Christmas carols. They have been with us since childhood when we sang them in the school choir and at nativity plays every year. We hear them on the radio in many different versions and varieties, but some of these songs have secrets that not many people know about.
Did you know that “Jingle Bells” was the first song to be broadcast from space? In 1965, two astronauts from the NASA Gemini 6 manned space flight sent a message to mission control that they had spotted an unidentified object containing of one large module and eight smaller modules out front. The pilot in the command module allegedly wore a red suit. Then they proceeded to play a harmonica and some sleigh bells that they had managed to smuggle on board to the tune of Jingle Bells.
Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem
The original story was written by Philip Brooks, a pastor from Philadelphia, in 1867 inspired by a visit to Bethlehem a few years earlier. In the US it is usually sung to its original tune whereas in Britain we use a different version. In 1906, Vaughn Williams arranged the words to the British folk tune “Forest Green” and both countries stick to their own versions.
O Come All Ye Faithful
The original version, sung in Latin as “Adeste Fidelis” was written (and probably also composed) in 1760 by John Francis Wade. He was an English music teacher who fled to France after the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. It was then translated into English in 1841 by Frederick Oakley and William Brooke.
Bing Crosby released the only version of this song (as “Adeste Fidelis”) that reached the charts in the US in 1960.
You might hear the tune throughout the year whenever people get frustrated while waiting in queues to the words “Why are we waiting?”.
During the famous Christmas Truce of the first World War in 1914, this song was sung on Christmas Eve by soldiers on both sides simultaneously in English, French and German. Solders crossed into no-mans land and exchanged not only Christmas greeting but also gifts as well as joined together for impromptu football games. The truce ended shortly after Boxing Day.
Would you like to be able to play these Christmas Carols?
We have brought out a Christmas book in our play-along series featuring these 4 carols as well as four other favourites. The songs are suitable for even the most inexperienced players to play along with professionals. In this book, we have arranged your favourite Christmas songs in a contemporary style, transcribed here for C, Bb and Eb instruments and guitar.
If you are looking for a last minute Christmas gift for the musician in your family, you can buy it on Amazon by clicking here.