[JPL] MORE Seasonal Songs Info

Jazz in Savannah JASSav at comcast.net
Wed Dec 21 07:11:09 EST 2011

Jingle Bells – Savannah’s Song?
by Erica Backus · December 20, 2011

So, our balmy winter temperatures and beautifully preserved Historic 
District may not be the perfect environment for “dashing through the snow” 
but the bells are jingling loudly in Savannah as citizens tell Medford, 
Massachusetts to hold your one-horse open sleigh! A debate has been renewed 
as both Savannah and Medford claim ownership of the one world’s most beloved 
Christmas carols, “Jingle Bells.”

Written by James Pierpont Jr. in 1857 while he was serving as organist at 
Savannah’s Unitarian Universalist Church, the song was originally 
copyrighted as “One Horse Open Sleigh” and later changed to “Jingle Bells.” 
Many local historians believe that Pierpont penned “Jingle Bells” while in 
Savannah experiencing his first snow less winter as an ode to his 
Massachusetts snowy upbringing.

The debate between Savannah and Medford began in 1985 when Savannah erected 
a historical marker in Savannah’s Troupe Square across from the Unitarian 
Church that Pierpont called home. In 1989 Medford Mayor Michael McGlynn sent 
a letter to then Savannah Mayor John Rousakis stating that Medford was the 
home of “Jingle Bells” and the song was composed in the town of Medford in 
1850. Savannahians still proclaim Savannah the home of “Jingle Bells” 
because the song was copyrighted while Pierpont live in Georgia’s first 
city. Furthermore, Pierpont was married to a Savannah girl name Eliza Jane 
Purse who was the daughter of Savannah Mayor Thomas Purse and after living a 
long wonderful life and Jingle Bells being his only hit, his last wishes 
were to be buried in his beloved Savannah. Pierpont is buried in Savannah’s 
Laurel Grove Cemetery.

So, whichever side you take, Savannah’s or Medford’s, “Jingle Bells” is a 
classic tune of snowy good times and fun-filled open sleighs… in Savannah, 

Note: Savannah averages 0.1” inches of snowfall a year.

Hey! Did Y’all Know …

“Jingle Bells” was the first song broadcast from space, in a 
Christmas-themed prank by Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally 
Schirra. While in space on December 16, 1965, they sent this report to 
Mission Control: “We have an object, looks like a satellite going from north 
to south, probably in polar orbit… I see a command module and eight smaller 
modules in front. The pilot of the command module is wearing a red suit….” 
The astronauts then produced a smuggled harmonica and sleighbells and 
broadcast a rendition of “Jingle Bells.” The harmonica, shown to the press 
upon their return, was a Hohner “Little Lady”, a tiny harmonica 
approximately one inch long, by 3/8 of an inch wide.

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