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The Stories Behind Christmas Songs

Christmas isn’t Christmas without the songs that come with the season. We’ve heard many different renditions of the same songs done by pop artists, classical musicians, and local carolers alike. Some of these songs have pretty interesting stories behind them as well.

Christmas bells

“Silent Night” – A Christmas Miracle

The writer of this popular Christmas carol is Austrian priest Joseph Mohr. Having a broken organ in St. Nicholas Church made it hard for him to have music at his Christmas Eve service. However, he was determined to make it happen. He wrote a poem and asked a friend, Franz Gruber, to create a score that didn’t necessitate an organ.

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – Melancholy Origins

Though popularized by Frank Sinatra, this Christmas song was first heard in one of the saddest scenes in the 1940s film Meet Me in St. Louis. The song is sung by Judy Garland in a scene where she was trying to cheer her up her little sister while preparing to move from their beloved hometown to New York. Part of the song was changed to make it jollier for Sinatra to sing. The line “Hang a shining star upon the highest bough” was originally “We’ll have to muddle through somehow,” which reflected the situation of the characters in the film.

“All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” – Simple Joys

This adorable song was conceived by a grade school teacher from New York. Donald Yetter Gardner sat down his second graders in 1944 and asked the children to complete the sentence “All I want for Christmas is . . .” Although no one asked for their two front teeth specifically, the children’s pronunciation was greatly affected by their lack of two front teeth.

“Jingle Bells” – Not Intended for Christmas

Penned in the 1850s by James Lord Pierpont, this was intended to be a Thanksgiving song. It was also originally called “The One Horse Open Sleigh.”

“O Christmas Tree” – From Germany with Love

Melchior Franck wrote a folk song in the 16th century about bringing a tree in the house to decorate during Christmas season. In Germany, the original title of the song was “O Tannenbaum.” The song made its way to the United States via German immigrants and was translated into English.

“Mary’s Boy Child” – A Modern Classic

Written in 1956 by actor, songwriter, arranger, and conductor Jester Hairston, the song can be considered fairly recent among the well-known Christmas songs. Hairston was the grandson of American slaves and wanted to preserve Negro spirituals.

“Joy to the World” – Straight from the Bible

With its secular attachment, Christmas used to be exclusively a religious celebration, so all songs sung in the church were supposed to be biblical. However, many of them were difficult to sing and were pretty dreary. Isaac Watt, English hymn composer, took Psalm 98 and created one of the jolliest and most popular Christmas carols known today.

 

Sources:

http://mentalfloss.com/article/60596/origins-10-popular-christmas-carols

http://hubpages.com/entertainment/ChristmasCarols

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