American composer James Pierpont published "One Horse Open Sleigh" more than 160 years ago. Today, the song is known by most everyone as "Jingle Bells."
It’s become one of the most popular Christmas carols even though Pierpont originally intended it for the Thanksgiving season.
The song has been done in every style imaginable, yet its melody and lyrics are still instantly recognizable.
Many versions of “Jingle Bells” were performed during the annual “Dickens on the Square” holiday celebration in downtown Macomb. TSPR was there to record them and talk to the artists for a Jingle Bells audio postcard.
The Macomb Flute Ensemble (pictured at the top of the story) at the Western Illinois Museum
Jeiran Hasan, an Instructor of Music at Western Illinois University, leads the group, which consists of junior high, high school, and WIU students. “I really love the sound and I think everyone played so well together.”
Sandra Mosley at the Festival of Trees at the Macomb Arts Center
“I begged my mother for piano lessons when I was four years old,” said Mosley. “She finally relented at five. And I never stopped.”
Mosley said she grew up in a rural area, and when she was a girl scout everyone would pile into an old hay wagon during the holiday season. “Kids have fun doing something like that and when you’re sitting on a hay wagon looking at the backside of a horse, that makes you giggle if you’re a kid. So we did a lot of giggling,” she said. “But we always had the bells. And so ‘Jingle Bells’ was a song that we would sing.”
Joshua Allen at the Festival of Trees at the Macomb Arts Center
“One of my memories of my grandpa was when he used to play the steel guitar before he got Parkinson’s. He played ‘Jingle Bells’ and we were all gathered around while he played. It’s a special memory that I have of him,” said Allen.
Willie Jones at Kapow! ’66 Comics
“I grew up in church so I like Christmas songs,” said Jones. “I like playing for people and like to have people enjoy the music.” Jones said he generally plays a variety of music from the past and present. He performs “Jingle Bells” and other seasonal songs during the holiday period.
Suzuki Strings at New Copperfield’s Book Service
Violin teacher Karen Martin said she has taught students as young as two. The oldest are in high school. “We gear things so everyone can participate. For ‘Jingle Bells,’ for example, the ones that can’t play everything all the way through, they get to have some bells to ring.”