Who wouldn’t go?

Popularly recorded by generations of singers, it’s a song that became internationally recognized in 1952 as the last in a series of instant holiday classics performed by singing cowboy, Gene Autry, which included “Here Comes Santa Claus” in 1947, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in 1949, and both “Frosty the Snow Man” and “Peter Cottontail” in 1950.

But “Up on the Housetop” (aka “Up on the Rooftop”) was actually published in 1864, technically making it the first-ever secular Christmas carol – although “Jingle Bells” was published in 1857, it was originally intended as a song to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Written by Benjamin Russell Hanby of New Paris, Ohio it is also the first to feature jolly St. Nick.

Actually a melding of the British “Father Christmas” and the Dutch “Sinterklass”, our image of Santa Claus (the Americanized name dates back to 1773) has much of its basis in the 1823 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (aka “The Night Before Christmas”) by Clement Clarke Moore, in addition to the iconic depiction drawn by illustrator Thomas Nast.

As for the 17th Century origins of Father Christmas and Sinterklass, they’re believed to have roots in both Germanic pagan tradition (where Odin would descend one’s chimney during the winter solstice) and in the 4th Century Greek-born Nikolaos of Myra.  Also referred to as Nikolaos the Wonderworker, the (now) multi-denominational “Saint Nicholas” was revered for easing the plight of impoverished children and wrongly condemned prisoners and is still commonly recognized in port cities everywhere as patron saint of sailors and ships, offering safe voyage and protection from storms at sea.

Which may seem to be a long way from the Central Till Plains Region of Indianapolis, Indiana, where this short track was included on the 2007 album, “Jingle Sax” by the Indianapolis Sax Quartet… but then again (“click, click, click”) one mustn’t forget the old boy’s alternative method of getting around…

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Wednesday 19 December

Up On The Housetop

 Up on the housetop

Reindeer pause

Out jumps good old Santa Claus.

Down thru’ the chimney

With lots of toys

All for the little ones

Christmas joys

Ho, ho, ho!

Who wouldn’t go!

Ho, ho, ho!

Who wouldn’t go!

Up on the housetop

Click, click, click,

Down thru’ the chimney

With good Saint Nick

 First comes the stocking

Of little Nell

Oh, dear Santa

Fill it well

Give her a dolly

That laughs and cries

One that will open

And shut her eyes

Ho, ho, ho!

Who wouldn’t go!

Ho, ho, ho!

Who wouldn’t go!

Up on the housetop

Click, click, click

Down thru’ the chimney

With good Saint Nick

 Next comes the stocking

Of little Will

Oh just see

What a glorious fill

Here is a hammer

And lots of tacks

Also a ball

And a whip that cracks

Ho, ho, ho!

Who wouldn’t go!

Ho, ho, ho!

Who wouldn’t go!

Up on the housetop

Click, click, click

Down thru’ the chimney

With good Saint Nick

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