Who wrote Jingle Bells?

If you would like to access the first part of this audio in which we talk about the expression bells and whistlesclick here.


In today’s lesson you’re going to hear the story of the creator of Jingle Bells, his questionable character and we’ll  go through the lyrics so if you want to sing the song in English, you can. 


In December of 1965, a spacecraft called Gemini 6 was flying in outer space, looking back down at earth. The crew members on board were on call with Mission Control when they announced the following alarming message: “We have an object, looks like a satellite going from north to south, up in a polar orbit. He’s in a very low trajectory traveling from north to south and has a very high climbing ratio. It looks like it might even be a … Very low….” 

After a few more details, sleigh bells started to jingle and the familiar tune Jingle Bells  passed from Gemini 6 to Mission Control. With a harmonica and sleigh bells, Wally Shirra (Walter M. Shirra Jr.) and Tom Stafford, played the first live song from space: Jingle Bells. 

And yes, the astronauts were playing a joke on Mission Control;  they were in fact pretending to see Santa. Let’s listen to the live recording from Bedford Brass Quintet.

In today’s lesson, which is part two of episode 135, you’re going to hear the story of the creator of Jingle Bells, you’ll learn a little bit about his questionable character and we’ll also go through the lyrics so that you can sing to it in English if you want to.

"Jingle Bells" is debatably one of the most popular songs in English. It’s been rewritten and recorded thousands of times since its creation in the 1800s. The famous tune has even been translated into over 70 languages, so if you travel around the world, you may hear "Cascabel" in Spain, "Vive Le Vent" in France and "Ein Kleiner Weisse Schneemann" in Germany. Yep. All of the songs are to the same tune.

Christmastime in the States wouldn’t be the same, of course, without "Jingle Bells" blasting from speakers around town. Some people hate it, others love it. How did it get so popular?


That’s the end of the free version of this transcript. If you would like access to the full transcript as well as mp3, interactive transcript reader (to work on accent) and quiz, be sure to sign up to Season 3 or All Premium Content.