#1 – OPENING
IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR 1963 Eddie Pola and George Wyle
This song was originally recorded by pop singer Andy Williams. In 1968 and 1976, Christmas Seals used it is a theme song. Additionally, Staples office supply chain annually uses this song in a back to school advertising campaign, showing eager parents and sulking children.
IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS 1951 Meredith Willson
Everyone knows Meredith Willson as the composer of the smash Broadway hit The Music Man. However, before that, he had already achieved two of his biggest musical successes. In 1950, Willson conducted Tallulah Bankhead’s radio program The Big Show, and wrote its closing signature tune, “May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You.” (He also became known as the comical man who embarrassedly addressed the baritone-voiced actress as “Miss Bankhead, sir.”) He wrote both the music and the text for this warmly melodic song, with the message that the carol you sing in your heart is the loveliest Christmas music of all.
WE NEED A LITTLE CHRISTMAS 1966 Jerry Herman
This jolly Christmas anthem is from the Broadway show Mame. Jerry Herman, whose scores (Milk & Honey, Dear World, Mack & Mabel, Hello Dolly and Mame) have earned many awards. In this song, Auntie Mame, her nephew Patrick, and their butler and servants sing that, even though it’s too early in the year, they need the holly, the candles, the carols, the laughter, the singing… the spirit that only Christmas can bring.
#2 - FROLICKING IN THE FOREST
WINTER WONDERLAND 1934 Richard B. Smith & Felix Bernard
Winter Wonderland is often regarded as a Christmas song, although the holiday itself is never mentioned in the lyrics. In 1946, Johnny Mercer took the song to #4 in Billboard's airplay chart and the same season, Perry Como hit the retail top ten. Perry Como recorded a new version for his Christmas album in 1959.
DECK THE HALLS (Old Welsh Air)
Although most of us now live in rooms rather than vast, vaulted halls, we still deck them out at Christmas time- with holly, wreaths, anything our imagination can conjure up. The old traditions suggested by this song seem to indicate an ancient English vintage. However, the lyrics are believed to be American, written in the 19th century when Washington Irving was glorying English customs and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was at the height of its first popularity.
O CHRISTMAS TREE aka “O Tannenbaum” (Traditional)
The custom of decorating trees at Christmas arose in Germany and still today, there is no more universal holiday decoration . A legend exists that Martin Luther, walking through the woods one late Christmas Eve, noticed how exquisitely pure the starlight seemed when glimpsed through the trees, so he took an evergreen home as a remembrance of that Christmas night and decorated it with candles to simulate the stars.
ROCKING AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE 1958 Johnny Marks
This popular song was written when rock n roll was even affecting Christmas music. Brenda Lee’s 1958 recording was a big hit as she sung about the Christmas hop, where the dancing was being done in that “new old fashioned way.”
LET IT SNOW LET IT SNOW LET IT SNOW 1945 Sammy Cahn & Jule Styne
Team up Sammy Cahn & Jule Styne and you’re bound to get a ballad that will make history. They produced this wintertime classic which was turned into an immediate hit recording by Vaughn Monroe.
FROSTY THE SNOWMAN 1951 Steve Nelson & Jack Rollins
Gene Autry, just out of high school, tried to earn some money by working in a railway telegraph office in a little Oklahoma town. Assigned to the slow night shift, he amused himself by picking on his guitar and singing songs. One night, a stranger waited until Autry had finished his song and said, “Young feller, you’re wasting your time here.” It was Will Rogers. Autry took Roger’s advice and began singing professionally. “Frosty” proved to be a million-seller and a child’s Christmas can never be quite complete without this familiar character
BRAZILIAN SLEIGH BELLS 1950 Percy Faith
Sleigh bells in Brazil is absurd, but Toronto born writer-arranger-conductor Percy Faith wrote this song as a musical joke and his combination of jingling bells and Brazilian rhythms is a rare and unexpected treat for Christmastime. Faith was active in films, radio and television and recordings from the 1940s until his death in 1976.
#3 – A CRAZY SLEIGH RIDE
OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS (Traditional)
At one time, this was a favorite song of the Thanksgiving season. The lyrics tell the delights of a sleigh ride to Grandmother’s house and the goodies that would be found there. Over the years, this jolly tune, which probably dates from the 1870s, has come to be associated with Christmas instead of Thanksgiving.
SLEIGH RIDE 1948 Mitchell Parish & Leroy Anderson
“Sleigh Ride” has the brisk charm of a Currier and Ives winter scene although Anderson claims he composed it in the midst of a sweltering August heat wave. Mitchell Parish added lyrics two years later. The song was first performed by Arthur Fiedler and The Boston Pops Orchestra, and was such a success that it had to be repeated immediately for the audience. Anderson also composed “The Typewriter” and “The Syncopated Clock”.
RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER 1949 Johnny Marks
More than 178 million recordings by 500 different performers and 7 million copies of sheet music, not to mention toys, clothing, watches, all bearing the image of a shiny-nosed deer. Cowboy star Gene Autry introduced “Rudolph” and his recording has sold more than 50 of those 178 million recordings, making it the second biggest – selling recording after Bing Crosby’s version of “White Christmas.”
GRANDMA GOT RUN OVER BY A REINDEER 1979 Randy Brooks
According to writer Randy Brooks, he first performed the song in December of 1978. After the show, a singing duo had him make a cassette of the song for them to learn and a year later the duo was selling 45’s of the song from the stage. By 1984, the song had become a national hit. In 2000, an animated television program portrayed the events depicted in the song — though, being made for children, the cartoon is toned down of adult content, so that Grandma does not die, and Santa is innocent of any crime.
A CHRISTMAS SONG 1946 Mel Torme and Robert Wells
“The Christmas Song” is also frequently called “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire”, the opening lines of the song. Mel Torme, the supper-club singer known as “The Velvet Fog”, wrote about the joys of the Yuletide season with lyrics from a friend. Torme made a recording of the song and Nat King Cole recorded an even more successful version a decade later.
#4 – BELLS, BELLS, BELLS
JINGLE BELLS 1857 James Pierpont
James Pierpont wrote Jingle Bells for a Thanksgiving program at the large Boston church where he taught Sunday school. He titled his song “The One Horse Open Sleigh” and made the rhythm so jaunty and the words so catchy that his 40 little Sunday schooler’s learned it almost instantaneously. The children’s first performance was such a success that they were asked to repeat it at Christmastime, whereupon the sleigh apparently took on the identity of Santa’s sled, and “Jingle Bells” became a Christmas song forever.
SILVER BELLS 1950 Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
The lyrics to Silver Bells are unusual for a Christmas song in that it describes the festival in the city and not a rural setting. It was first performed by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell in the motion picture The Lemon Drop Kid and then a recorded version was made by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards. After the recording became popular, Hope and Maxwell were called back and refilmed a more elaborate production of the song. The song originally had a questionable title of "Tinkle Bells." Said Evans, "We never thought that tinkle had a double meaning until Jay went home and his wife said, 'Are you out of your mind? Do you know what the word tinkle is’?” (It is child's slang for potty)
CAROL OF THE BELLS Peter J. Wilhousky and M. Leontovich
Carol of the Bells is based on an old Ukrainian motif, and probably springs from a legend that at the stroke of midnight on the evening when Jesus was born, all the bells on earth suddenly began pealing joyously together of their own accord- and there was never a sound like it for its majesty and grandeur.
I HEARD THE BELLS Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, adapted by Johnny Marks
A mood of intense melancholy overtook poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow after his wife’s tragic death in a fire in 1861. The Civil War had broken out that same year, and it seemed to him that this was an additional punishment. Sitting down at his desk one day, he penned the poem “Christmas Bells.” In the 1950’s, Johnny Marks adapted Longfellow’s words and wrote the musical melody that is heard today. There have been many recordings including one by Kate Smith, Frank Sinatra, Harry Belafonte and Bing Crosby (who joked to Marks, “I see you finally got yourself a decent lyricist”).
JINGLE BELL ROCK 1957 Joe Beal and Jim Boothe
“Jingle Bell Rock” has nothing to do with the song “Jingle Bells.” It was written exactly a century later, when rock n’ roll was coming on strong and casting its new rhythmic vitality over everything, including the Christmas season. Joe Beal, a new England-born public relations man, collaborated with Jim Boothe, a Texas writer in the advertising business, to create this unique novelty, which became a best-selling record for singer Bobby Helms.
CAROLING WITH THE NEIGHBORS (not used in all performances)
HERE WE COME A CAROLING (Traditional)
“Here We Come A-Caroling” is an old English wassail song… a song to wish good health. Bands of beggars and orphans used to dance their way through the snowy streets of England, offering to sing good cheer and to tell good fortune, if the householder would give them a drink from his wassail bowl, or a penny, or a pork pie, or better yet, let them stand for a few minutes beside the warmth of his hearth. The wassail bowl itself was a hearty combination of hot ale or beer and spices and meat, just alcoholic enough to warm the tingling toes and fingers of the singers.
12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS (Traditional)
In the Middle Ages, religious holidays were practically the only celebrated holidays, so lord and peasant alike tried to extend these happy times as long as possible. Christmas became not one day of celebration but 12 and in the castles of the wealthy, a gift on each of the 12 days was not unusual. Hence the appeal of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” since even those who couldn’t afford to give the gifts could at least sing about them. The carol is very old, dating probably from the 16th century, when such sprightly counting songs were very much in fashion.
#5 – WALTZING ON ICE
SKATERS WALTZ (Les Patineurs) 1882 Emile Waldteufel
Emile Waldteufel, the Waltz King of France, composed more than 250 waltzes, arranging the more popular ones for piano solo, so that the bourgeoisie could dance in their parlors while the nobility whirled away in the royal ballrooms. This song was written in 1882, at a time when Parisian society had developed a passion for ice skating, and the tune has remained popular and can still be heard wherever music is played for skating.
SILVER & GOLD 1964 Johnny Marks
In 1964, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was first shown to a delighted audience and has been aired every Christmas since; making TV history as the longest running special. Johnny Marks, who wrote the best selling song about “Rudolph” in 1949, was invited to write the music. The song “Silver & Gold,” emerged from his scores and was sung by Burl Ives .
WHAT CHILD IS THIS (Traditional) Lyrics William Chatterton Dix
“What Child Is This” is sung to the melody of “Greensleeves”, and some theories say that Henry VIII wrote the song. Henry’s daughter Queen Elizabeth I is said to have danced to it; Shakespeare mentioned it twice in The Merry Wives of Windsor; and traitors were hanged as musicians played its strains in a mournful tempo. “Greensleeves” was first registered in 1850 with a set of lyrics that were not religious or respectable. Then in 1865, William Chatterton Dix published “The Manger Throne” and three stanzas were taken from that poem and fitted to “Greensleeves,” thus creating “What Child Is This”, one of our favorite carols.
WE THREE KINGS 1857 John Henry Hopkins
In 1857, John Henry Hopkins, Jr., wrote an elaborate Christmas pageant, for the General Theological Seminary in New York City, where he was instructor in church music. One of the songs was about the Wise Men who came from the East, and for this part of the pageant, Hopkins created one of America’s most beloved carols.
O HOLY NIGHT 1847 John Sullivan Dwight and Adolphe Charles Adam
It is difficult to realize now that when “O Holy Night” was written, it was frowned on by church authorities. One French bishop even went so far as to denounce it for its “lack of musical taste and total absence of the spirit of religion” . Despite this, it has become a most popular Christmas solo. Adam’s friend and collaborator , the poet Cappeau de Roquemaure, was the first to supply a text for the melody, titling it “Cantique de Noel.” The English words we use today, were written by an American clergyman named John Sullivan Dwight.
OH COME ALL YE FAITHFUL English: Frederick Oakeley; Latin: John Francis Wade; Music: John Reading
“Adeste Fideles" is attributed to John Francis Wade. The text itself has unclear beginnings, and may have been written in the 13th century, though it has been concluded that Wade was probably the author. The original four verses were extended to eight, and these have been translated into many languages, though the English "O Come All Ye Faithful" translation by Frederick Oakeley is particularly widespread.
#5 - THE CHILDHOOD TOYBOX
NUTTIN’ FOR CHRISTMAS 1955 Sid Tepper and Roy C. Bennett
"Nuttin’ For Christmas" is a novelty song that became a hit during the 1955 Christmas season when the song showed up on Billboard’s pop charts by a total of five different artists. The highest peaking of the five recordings was released by Art Mooney & His Orchestra, with seven-year-old Barry Gordon as lead vocalist.
TOYLAND 1903 Glen MacDonough and Victor Herbert
Babes in Toyland, one of Victor Herbert’s enchanting operettas, wove together various characters from Mother Goose nursery rhymes into a Christmas-themed musical extravaganza and proved that Herbert could write children’s entertainment as well as sentimental love stories. One reviewer called Babes in Toyland a “perfect dream of delight,” and another, praising the ingenious scenery, rich costumes and dazzling music, wrote, “What more could the spirit of a mortal desire?”
THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY 1958 Katherine Davis, Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone
Harry Simeone, who was at one time choral conductor-assistant to Fred Waring, wrote what is now a Christmas classic. The song tells the story of a shepherd boy who makes his way along with the procession of the Wise Men to the manger in Bethlehem to see the Holy Babe. Some who gather at the manger present the Infant with fine gifts, but all the shepherd has to offer is his drum and his gift of making music.
DANCE OF THE MIRLITONS &
DANCE OF THE SUGAR PLUM FAIRY 1892 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet whose libretto is adapted from the story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" by E. T. A. Hoffmann. It premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia in December 1892. Although the original production was not a success, The Nutcracker has enjoyed increasing popularity since the mid-20th century, and is now performed by countless ballet companies primarily during the Christmas season,
PARADE OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS 1905 Ballard MacDonald and Leon Jessel
Leon Jessel caught the jaunty strut of toys exactly when he wrotethis song as a novelty item. It debuted in Germany and was heard by a Russian producer who used it in his new revue show “La Chauve-Souris(The Bat)” in Paris. The show eventually came to Broadway in 1922 and was also made into a short animated film starring Betty Boop in 1933.
WHITE CHRISTMAS 1940 Irving Berlin
Accounts vary as to when and where Berlin wrote the song but one story is that he wrote it poolside at the Biltmore hotel in Phoenix, Arizona. Berlin often stayed up all night writing , and the next morning he told his secretary, "Grab your pen and take down this song. I just wrote the best song I've ever written — heck, I just wrote the best song that anybody's ever written!” Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" single has been credited with selling 50 million copies, making it the biggest-selling worldwide single of all time. Amazingly, Crosby recorded the song in just 18 minutes. The song also won an Academy Award for Best Original Song from the movie Holiday Inn.
#7 – FINALE (AN AROUND THE WORLD HOLIDAY FAREWELL)
"I travel a lot and have come to realize that while people have many different cultures, traditions and lifestyles... we ALL smile, laugh, cry and love!
We are ALL the SAME... even though we are DIFFERENT! " (Debby Bacon)
HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS 1944 Hugh Martin & Ralph Blane
Child star Judy Garland’s leap to fame came as a young starlet when she played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz in 1939. Five years later, she was starring in “Meet Me in St. Louis” and her eyes were just as liquid, her mouth just as prone to a quiver and her way with a song still absolutely unforgettable. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – was so movingly done in her Garland style, that a box of tissues was almost a necessity for moviegoers.
FELIZ NAVIDAD 1970 José Feliciano
With its simple Spanish chorus and equally simple English verse "I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart", "Feliz Navidad" has become a classic Christmas pop song. It was recognized by ASCAP as one of the top 25 most played and recorded Christmas songs around the world.
CHRISTMAS IN KILLARNEY 1951 John Redmond, James Cavanaugh and Frank Weldon
THE KERRY DANCE (Traditional) James Lynam Molloy
Down in the southwest corner of Ireland, is the picturesque town of Killarney. Spring is greener there and summer is lovelier, the residents say; just because it’s Killarney (rhymes with “blarney”). And in Killarney, Christmas is more Christmassy, agree the all Irish writers of this song. Dennis Day, the Irish tenor whose voice is compounded of the greenest shamrocks, introduced this lyrical ballad in 1951 with a recording that quickly became a best-seller.
MELE KALIKIMAKA (The Hawaiian Christmas Song) 1949 R. Alex Anderson
This song is about a different kind of Christmas, one that will be “green and bright,” and comes to us from Hawaii. It is the work of R. Alex Anderson, a successful Hawaiian businessman who wrote songs as a hobby. Although his best-known song is “The Cockeyed Mayor of Kaunakakai”, his other tunes usually focus on the soft beauty of the Islands – “Lovely Hula Hands,” White Ginger Blossoms,” “Lei of Stars.” Bing Crosby and The Andrew Sisters made a recording of this swinging bit of Christmas sentiment.
SONG OF KWANZAA 2010 Lindsay Meehan
This song was specifically written for Debby Bacon’s musical show “A Holiday Dream” by Lindsay Meehan, the arranger of her entire show. Kwanzaa consists of seven days of celebration, featuring activities such as candle-lighting and libations, and culminating in a feast and gift giving. During the celebration, seven candles are placed in the kinara (a Swahili word that means candle holder) - three red on the left, three green on the right, and a single black candle in the center. Kwanzaa was created by Ron Karenga and was first celebrated from December 26, 1966 to January 1, 1967.
THE DREIDEL SONG (Traditional)
In the English speaking world, this children's Chanukah tune is about making a dreidel and playing with it. It also has a Yiddish version. The English version of the song is well associated with the festival of Chanukah, and is known by many Jewish and non-Jewish alike. The versions are roughly the same, with the Yiddish one making the dreidel out of "blay" (Yiddish) which is lead, and in the English version making it out of clay.
HAPPY HOLIDAY 1942 Irving Berlin
“Happy Holiday" (sometimes performed as "Happy Holidays") was first performed by Bing Crosby in the 1942 film Holiday Inn. In the context of the film, the song refers to holidays throughout the year; however, it has come to be associated most commonly with the winter Christmas and holiday season. The song has been recorded by numerous artists over the years, including Perry Como, Percy Faith, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Jackie Gleason, Peggy Lee, Barry Manilow, and Andy Williams.
HAVE A HOLLY JOLLY CHRISTMAS 1964 Johnny Marks
No one has written more Christmas musical goodies then Johnny Marks. After he wrote “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” in 1949, Marks set up his own company – fittingly called St. Nicholas Music Inc. – to publish the songs himself. Rudolph was successful beyond Marks’ wildest dreams and he followed it with as “The Night Before Christmas”, “When Santa Claus Gets Your Letter”, “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree”, “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day”, and “Holly Jolly Christmas”. The last song was premiered by Burl Ives in 1964 on the CBS children’s Christmas TV special “Rudolph the Red- Nosed Reindeer. Ives recording of “A Holly Jolly Christmas” sold more than 2 million copies.
WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS (Traditional)
We Wish You a Merry Christmas" is a popular secular sixteenth-century English carol from the West Country of England. The origin of this Christmas carol lies in the English tradition where wealthy people of the community gave Christmas treats to the carolers on Christmas Eve such as 'figgy puddings' that were very much like modern day Christmas puddings. It is one of the few traditional holiday carols that makes mention of the New Year celebration