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Solos

#27: Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Everyone knows what happens if you pout or cry around Christmastime: Santa Claus passes you by, that’s what. “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” was written by J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie in 1934. Coots had been writing material for Eddie Cantor, a comedian with a radio show. Coots shared this song with Cantor, who nearly turned it down. Cantor’s wife, Ida, convinced him to air the song, and it was an instant smash hit with orders for 100,000 copies of sheet music the next day, and more than 400,000 copies sold by Christmas. The song is a traditional standard at Christmas time, and has been covered by numerous recording artists. In 1970 Rankin-Bass produced an hour-long animated television special based on the song, with narrator Fred Astaire telling the original story of Santa Claus.

Lyrics

You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town

He’s making a list
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town

He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

Oh! You better watch out!
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town

#20: You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch“You’re A Mean One, Mister Grinch” was originally written and composed for the 1966 cartoon special How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The lyrics were written by Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, the music was composed by Albert Hague, and the song was performed by Thurl Ravenscroft. The song’s lyrics describe the Grinch as being foul, bad-mannered and sinister using increasingly creative metaphors and synonyms.

Because Ravenscroft was not credited in the closing credits of the special, it is often mistakenly attributed to Boris Karloff, who served as narrator and speaking voice of the Grinch in the special. After becoming aware of this oversight, Seuss himself called Ravenscroft and apologized profusely, and later wrote letters to columnists nationwide telling them that it was Ravenscroft who provided the vocal.

Ravenscroft recorded two versions of the selection, one version for the television special and the other version for the soundtrack. The two versions differ in the order of the verses; the instrumentation — the soundtrack version’s accompaniment is more straight-forward, and features fewer instruments and “sound effect” musical events, than the version heard during the special; the nature of singing and the transitions between verses — the soundtrack’s transitions are shorter and less abrupt.

Lyrics

You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch.
You really are a heel.
You’re as cuddly as a cactus,
You’re as charming as an eel.
Mr. Grinch.

You’re a bad banana
With a greasy black peel.

You’re a monster, Mr. Grinch.
Your heart’s an empty hole.
Your brain is full of spiders,
You’ve got garlic in your soul.
Mr. Grinch.

I wouldn’t touch you, with a
thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole.

You’re a vile one, Mr. Grinch.
You have termites in your smile.
You have all the tender sweetness
Of a seasick crocodile.
Mr. Grinch.

Given the choice between the two of you
I’d take the seasick crocodile.

You’re a foul one, Mr. Grinch.
You’re a nasty, wasty skunk.
Your heart is full of unwashed socks
Your soul is full of gunk.
Mr. Grinch.

The three words that best describe you,
are, and I quote: “Stink. Stank. Stunk.”

You’re a rotter, Mr. Grinch.
You’re the king of sinful sots.
Your heart’s a dead tomato splot
With moldy purple spots,
Mr. Grinch.

Your soul is an apalling dump heap overflowing
with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable,
Mangled up in tangled up knots.

You nauseate me, Mr. Grinch.
With a nauseaus super-naus.
You’re a crooked jerky jockey
And you drive a crooked horse.
Mr. Grinch.

You’re a three decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich
With arsenic sauce.

#19: Santa Baby

Santa Baby“Santa Baby” was written in 1953 by Joan Javits and Philip Springer. The song is a tongue-in-cheek look at a Christmas list sung by a woman who wants the most extravagant gifts like sable, yachts and decorations from Tiffany’s. “Santa Baby” was originally sung and recorded in 1953 by Eartha Kitt. The song was a huge hit for Kitt, and she later said that it was one of her favorite songs to record. A sequel, “This Year’s Santa Baby”, was recorded by Kitt in 1954, to no commercial success; Kitt also reprised the original song for a 1963 re-recording with a more uptempo arrangement (Madonna’s popular rendition for the 1987 charity album A Very Special Christmas is based on this latter version). The song was featured in the 1989 film Driving Miss Daisy.

Lyrics

Santa baby, just slip a sable under the tree, for me
Been an awful good girl
Santa baby so hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby, a ’54 convertible too, light blue,
I’ll wait up for you dear
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Think of all the fun I’ve missed,
Think of all the fellows that I haven’t kissed
Next year I could be just as good
If you check off my christmas list

Santa baby, I want a yacht and really thats not a lot
Been an angel all year
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa honey, one little thing I really need, the deed
To a platinum mine,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa cutie, and fill my stocking with a duplex and cheques,
Sign your “X” on the line
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Come and trim my Christmas tree,
With some decorations bought at Tiffany’s
I really do believe in you,
Let’s see if you believe in me

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing, a ring,
I don’t mean on the phone,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry, tonight

#18: White Christmas

White ChristmasIrving Berlin wrote “White Christmas” in the early 1940s, reminiscing about an old-fashioned Christmas setting. Bing Crosby made this song famous, and his single has been credited with selling 50 million copies, the most by any release. Even the Guinness Book of World Records lists Crosby’s song as a 100-million seller, encompassing all versions of the song, including albums. The song was even made into a movie, under the same name, starring Bing Crosby together with Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen.

Accounts vary as to when and where Berlin wrote the song. One story is that he wrote it on the poolside at the Biltmore hotel in Phoenix, Arizona. He often stayed up all night writing — 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!”

Whatever the origins may be, “White Christmas” is a long-time cherished Christmas favorite.

Lyrics

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten,
and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white

#17: What Child Is This?

What Child Is This?“What Child Is This?” was written by William Chatterton Dix in 1865. At the age of 29, William was struck with a sudden near-fatal illness and confined to bedrest for several months, during which he went into a deep depression. Yet out of his near-death experience, Dix wrote many hymns, including “What Child Is This?” It was later set to the traditional English tune “Greensleeves.”

Lyrics

What child is this who laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping

This, this is Christ the King
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring him laud
The babe, the son of Mary

Why lies he in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding
Good Christian fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh
Come peasant king to own Him
The King of kings, salvation brings
Let loving hearts enthrone Him

This, this is Christ the King
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring him laud
The babe, the son of Mary

#14: Jingle Bell Rock

Jingle Bell Rock“Jingle Bell Rock” was written by Joe Beal, a New England-born public relations man, in 1957. It’s in the “rockabilly” style, and was written during a time when rock-and-roll was coming on strong and casting its new rhythmic vitality over everything, including the Christmas season. Joe Beal collaborated with Jim Boothe, a Texas writer in the advertising business, to create this unique novelty, which became a best-selling record for Bobby Helms.

Lyrics

Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock
Jingle bells swing and jingle bells ring
Snowing and blowing up bushels of fun
Now the jingle hop has begun

Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock
Jingle bells chime in jingle bell time
Dancing and prancing in Jingle Bell Square
In the frosty air

What a bright time, it’s the right time
To rock the night away

Jingle bell time is a swell time
To go gliding in a one-horse sleigh
Giddy-up jingle horse, pick up your feet
Jingle around the clock

Mix and a-mingle in the jingling feet
That’s the jingle bell,
That’s the jingle bell,
That’s the jingle bell rock

#13: Joy to the World

Joy to the WorldThe words to the triumphant song “Joy to the World” are by English hymn writer Isaac Watts, based on Psalm 98 in the Bible. The song was first published in 1719. Watts wrote the words of “Joy to the World” as a hymn glorifying Christ’s triumphant return at the end of the age, rather than a Christmas song celebrating his first coming as a babe born in a stable. Only the second half of Watts’ lyrics are still used today.

The music was adapted and arranged to Watts’ lyrics by Lowell Mason in 1839 from an older melody which was then believed to have originated from Handel, not least because the theme of the refrain (“And heaven and nature sing…”) appears in the orchestra opening and accompaniment of the recitative “Comfort Ye” from Handel’s Messiah, and the first four notes match the beginning of the choruses “Lift up your heads” and “Glory to God” from the same oratorio. However, Handel did not compose the entire tune.

As of the late 20th century, “Joy to the World” was the most-published Christmas hymn in North America.

Lyrics

Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the Earth! the Saviour reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

#12: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like ChristmasYou may know Meredith Wilson as the composer of the Broadway hit The Music Man in 1957, but before that in 1951 he had already achieved success with “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.” Perry Como and The Fontane Sisters with Mitchell Ayres & His Orchestra on September 10, 1951. Bing Crosby recorded a version on October 1, 1951 which was also widely played.

Lyrics

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Ev’rywhere you go
Take a look in the five-and-ten,
Glistening once again
With candy canes and silver lanes aglow.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Toys in ev’ry store
But the prettiest sight to see
Is the holly that will be
On your own front door.

A pair of hopalong boots and a pistol that shoots
Is the wish of Barney and Ben
Dolls that will talk and will go for a walk
Is the hope of Janice and Jen
And mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Ev’rywhere you go
There’s a tree in the Grand Hotel,
And in the park as well
The sturdy kind that doesn’t mind the snow.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Soon the bells will start
And the thing that will make them ring
Is the carol that you sing
Right within your heart.

#11: Let It Snow!

Let It Snow!“Let It Snow!” was written by lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Jule Styne in July 1945 in Hollywood, California during one of the hottest days on record.

First recorded by Vaughn Monroe on October 31, 1945, it became a popular hit, reaching #1 on the Billboard music charts the following year. One of the best-selling songs of all time, “Let It Snow!” has been covered countless times. Due to its seasonal lyrics, it is commonly regarded as a Christmas song. Yet despite its cheery, holiday feel, it is a love song that never mentions Christmas and both the composer and lyricist were Jewish.

Lyrics

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we’ve no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

It doesn’t show signs of Pauseping,
And I’ve bought some corn for popping,
The lights are turned way down low,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

When we finally kiss goodnight,
How I’ll hate going out in the storm!
But if you’ll really hold me tight,
All the way home I’ll be warm.

The fire is slowly dying,
And, my dear, we’re still good-bying,
But as long as you love me so,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

#10: Coventry Carol

Coventry CarolThe “Coventry Carol” is a Christmas carol dating from the 16th Century. The carol was performed in Coventry as part of a play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors. The play depicts the Christmas story from chapter two in the Gospel of Matthew. The carol refers to the Massacre of the Innocents, in which Herod orders all male infants under the age of two in Bethlehem to be killed. The lyrics of this haunting carol represent a mother’s lament for her doomed child. It is the only carol that has survived from this play. Our knowledge of the lyrics is in considerable doubt, as the only surviving manuscript copy was burnt in 1875, and only two poor quality transcriptions remain from the early nineteenth century.

Lyrics

Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
Lullay, thou little tiny Child,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

O sisters too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for whom we do sing
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

Herod, the king, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His men of might, in his own sight,
All children young to slay.

That woe is me, poor Child for Thee!
And ever mourn and sigh,
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

#9: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” was introduced in 1944 by Judy Garland in the musical Meet Me in St. Louis, “a love of a film” as one critic put it. Frank Sinatra later recorded a version with modified lyrics, which has become more common than the original. The song was credited to Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, although during a December 21, 2006 NPR interview, Martin said that Blane had encouraged him to write the song but had not had anything more to do with writing it. In 2007, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) ranked “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” the third most-performed Christmas song written by ASCAP members of the past five years.

Lyrics

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on,
Our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yuletide gay,
From now on,
Our troubles will be miles away.

Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

Through the years
We all will be together,
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself
A merry little Christmas now.

#8: Do You Hear What I Hear?

Do You Hear What I Hear“Do You Hear What I Hear?” was written in October 1962 with lyrics by Noël Regney and music by Gloria Shayne Baker. It has sold tens of millions of copies and has been covered by hundreds of different artists.

Regney was inspired to write the lyrics “Said the night wind to the little lamb, ‘Do you see what I see?'” and “Pray for peace, people everywhere,” after watching babies being pushed in strollers on the sidewalks of New York City. Baker stated in an interview years later that neither could personally perform the entire song at the time they wrote it because of the emotions surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis. “Our little song broke us up. You must realize there was a threat of nuclear war at the time.”

It was Bing Crosby who made the song a worldwide smash hit when he recorded his own version of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” in 1963, and over the years Crosby’s recording of the song has received wide radio play, and been a cherished Christmas favorite.

Lyrics

Said the night wind to the little lamb,
“Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky, little lamb,
Do you see what I see?
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite,
With a tail as big as a kite.”

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy,
“Do you hear what I hear?
Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy,
Do you hear what I hear?
A song, a song high above the trees
With a voice as big as the the sea,
With a voice as big as the the sea.”

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king,
“Do you know what I know?
In your palace warm, mighty king,
Do you know what I know?
A Child, a Child shivers in the cold–
Let us bring him silver and gold,
Let us bring him silver and gold.”

Said the king to the people everywhere,
“Listen to what I say!
Pray for peace, people, everywhere,
Listen to what I say!
The Child, the Child sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light,
He will bring us goodness and light.”

#7: Christmas Shoes

“The Christmas Shoes” is based on a story passed around on the Internet. Eventually it was forwarded to a member of the Christian vocal group NewSong in 1996. They worked on the song for four years and eventually released it as a bonus track in 2000. It reached #31 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart that year, and #42 on the Hot 100 chart. A year later, country music group 3 of Hearts released their own version, which peaked at #37. In 2002 Donna VanLiere took the story and the theme of the song and produced a novelization which was published in 2002 by St. Martin’s Press. The book became a made-for-TV movie released in December 2002.

Lyrics

It was almost Christmas time, there I stood in another line
Tryin’ to buy that last gift or two, not really in the Christmas mood
Standing right in front of me was a little boy waiting anxiously
Pacing ’round like little boys do
And in his hands he held a pair of shoes

His clothes were worn and old, he was dirty from head to toe
And when it came his time to pay
I couldn’t believe what I heard him say

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please
It’s Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there’s not much time
You see she’s been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight

He counted pennies for what seemed like years
Then the cashier said, “Son, there’s not enough here”
He searched his pockets frantically
Then he turned and he looked at me
He said Mama made Christmas good at our house
Though most years she just did without
Tell me Sir, what am I going to do,
Somehow I’ve got to buy her these Christmas shoes

So I laid the money down, I just had to help him out
I’ll never forget the look on his face when he said
Mama’s gonna look so great

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please
It’s Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there’s not much time
You see she’s been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight

I knew I’d caught a glimpse of heaven’s love
As he thanked me and ran out
I knew that God had sent that little boy
To remind me just what Christmas is all about

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please
It’s Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there’s not much time
You see she’s been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight

#6: We Three Kings of Orient Are

We Three Kings of Orient AreIn 1857, John Henry Hopkins, Jr., assembled an elaborate Christmas pageant. He wrote both words and music for the General Theological Seminary in New York City, where he was an instructor in church music. One of the selections dealt with the Wise Men who came from the East, and for this part of the pageant, Hopkins created one of America’s most beloved carols. The three kings, Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar, brought gold, traditionally the metal of royalty; frankincense, an aromatic bark whose smoke was thought to reach the gates of heaven; and myrrh, an unguent used in the preparation of bodies for burial. The gifts symbolically signified Jesus’ kingship, His oneness with God, and His eventual death on the cross.

Lyrics

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar.
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light.

Born a king on Bethlehem’s plain,
Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign.

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light.

Frankincense to offer have I.
Incense owns a Deity nigh.
Prayer and praising all men raising,
Worship Him, God on high.

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light.

Myrrh is mine: Its bitter perfume
Breaths a life of gathering gloom.
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding dying,
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light.

Glorious now behold Him arise,
King and God and Sacrifice.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Sounds through the earth and skies.

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light.

#4: Still, Still, Still

“Still, Still, Still” is an old Austrian tune, first known as the “Salzburg Melody.” The song was written around 1819. Not much more is known about it beyond that, and the original author has since been lost in time.

Lyrics

Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed,
The world is sleeping,
Holy Star its vigil keeping.
Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.

Sleep, sleep, sleep,
‘Tis the eve of our Saviour’s birth.
The night is peaceful all around you,
Close your eyes,
Let sleep surround you.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
‘Tis the eve of our Saviour’s birth.

Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.
While guardian angels without number,
Watch you as you sweetly slumber.
Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.

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