About Justin

Justin has created 50 entries.

Entries By Justin
  • The First Noel, performed by Cynthia Mayer

    Cynthia is both a digital and real-life nomad from France who moved to the U.S. and travels across the country looking for new adventures. She shared this lovely performance of The First Noel on her YouTube channel.

    Check out her Colors of a Bird site where she shares her poetry, thoughts, and experiences as she travels the country.

    Read More

  • Once Upon a December

    “Once Upon a December” is a song from the 1997 animated film Anastasia, a story about the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, and the rumors surrounding her purported escape from Communist revolutionaries in 1918 who executed the rest of the Romanov royal family. Inspired by the 1952 play and […]

    Read More

  • A Spaceman Came Travelling

    Written by Chris de Burgh in 1975, “A Spaceman Came Travelling” topped the Irish charts a year after it was released. But it wasn’t until 1986 with De Burgh’s success of “The Lady in Red” that the UK took notice and it reached the top charts there, too. The idea for the song came to de […]

    Read More

  • I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

    Written by John Rox and recorded by 10 year-old Gayla Peevey in 1953, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” was an instant hit. After Peevey performed the song on the Ed Sullivan Show, a local promoter launched a fundraising campaign to gift Peevey a real hippopotamus. On Christmas day 1953, Gayla was presented with a […]

    Read More

  • O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

    The words to “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” are a translation of the Catholic Latin text “Veni, veni, Emmanuel” by John Mason Neale in the mid-19th century. Their origins are very old indeed, and may date as far back as the 12th century. They were of such importance in medieval days that in monasteries a […]

    Read More

  • Huron Carol (‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime)

    Generally considered the first Canadian Christmas carol, “‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime” was written in 1640 by a Jesuit priest, Jean de Brébeuf. He set the song to a French folk tune, “Une Jeune Pucelle.” Brébeuf was ministering to the Huron natives in Ontario, and created a song in their language that used symbols […]

    Read More

  • I’ll Be Home for Christmas

    Thousands of American men and women were serving overseas in 1943 when the world was at war, and they would be spending Christmas far from home. As a tribute to these heroes, Kim Gannon and Walter Kent created this lovely ballad, and Bing Crosby recorded it. The song’s spirit and message touched the hearts of […]

    Read More

  • Mary’s Boy Child

    “Mary’s Boy Child” was written by singer, composer, conductor, and actor Jester Hairston in 1956. Hairston, a grandson of American slaves, dedicated himself to preserving African-American Spirituals and their rich history. After Hairston wrote the song, Harry Belafonte made the first recording which topped the charts for nine weeks in 1957. Others have released their […]

    Read More

  • Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

    “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” was written by Randy Brooks, and originally performed by husband-and-wife duo Elmo and Patsy Trigg Shropshire in 1979. Brooks played the song while he was performing with Elmo and Patsy at the Hyatt Lake Tahoe in December 1978. After the show, Elmo and Patsy requested a cassette of […]

    Read More

  • Dives and Lazarus / A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief

    The tune to “Dives and Lazarus” is used in many folk songs throughout western Europe, including “Gilderoy” and “Crooked Jack” in Scotland, “The Star of the Country Down” in Ireland, and “The Unquiet Grave” in England. Ralph Vaughan Williams arranged the tune in his composition Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus for the 1939 World’s […]

    Read More

  • The Holly and the Ivy

    First published in 1861 by Joshua Sylvester in A Garland of Christmas Carols, the lyrics to “The Holly and the Ivy” are centuries old. The symbols predate Christianity and were likely altered to represent the symbols of Jesus, Mary, and His blood, crown of thorns, and crucifixion. The adapted meaning of the holly and ivy are a […]

    Read More

  • Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring

    “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” was composed by Johann Sebastian Bach in the early 1700s, as part of the final movement of the Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben cantata (“Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life”). The original German lyrics differ quite a bit from the traditional English lyrics, and strongly focus on […]

    Read More

  • Good King Wenceslas

    The Wenceslas of the song “Good King Wenceslas” wasn’t a king, but actually the Duke of Bohemia who lived in the 10th century. He was reputable as a good, kind, honest, and morally upright man. The carol is about Wenceslas and his page going out giving alms to a poor peasant in bitter cold weather […]

    Read More

  • When Christmas Comes to Town

    The 2004 film The Polar Express is based on the 1985 children’s book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg. It is a story of a young boy who no longer believes in Christmas. A train going to the North Pole appears outside his house, and he boards it at the request of the […]

    Read More

  • Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

    “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly” originates from the Polish carol “W zlobie lezy” (“He Lies in the Cradle”). In 1908, the carol was published in a book of Polish carols. 13 years later, Edith Margaret Reed wrote English-language lyrics for the song, and came up with the title “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly.” The carol reflects on […]

    Read More

  • The First Noel

    It’s difficult to know just how old “The First Noel” is. The song (at least the words) is thought to be of Cornish origin, and may date back as early as the 13th or 14th century. During this time, miracle plays and mystery plays — dramatic productions of Catholic saints and biblical stories — were […]

    Read More

  • Carol of the Bells

    Legend says that at the stroke of midnight on the evening when Jesus was born every bell on the earth began ringing joyously together. It is said there was never a sound quite like it. The song “Carol of the Bells” probably comes from that legend. Traditionally, the song starts out soft and gets progressively […]

    Read More

  • As With Gladness Men of Old

    “As With Gladness Men of Old” was written by William Chatterton Dix. He wrote it on the day of the Epiphany in 1858, while sick in bed. During this time, he read the story of the wise men in the Bible and pondered how he could give the story meaning in his own life. For […]

    Read More

  • Joseph’s Lullaby

    “Joseph’s Lullaby” is a song by the Christian rock band MercyMe that gives us a glimpse of how Joseph may have viewed the birth of his new son. The touching lyrics foreshadow the eventual ministry and atonement of the Savior, but gently reminds us that Joseph was also simply a father who loved his newborn […]

    Read More

  • There’s a Song in the Air

    “There’s a Song in the Air” is both a Christmas carol and Methodist hymn. The lyrics were written by Josiah G. Holland, a very popular poet and novelist in the post-Civil War era and late 19th century. The words paint a picture of the different elements of the Nativity, and recognize Jesus as King. The […]

    Read More

  • I Wonder As I Wander

    John Jacob Niles was traveling through a raucous revivalist meeting in North Carolina on July 16, 1933. A group was about to begin street preaching, when a girl stepped out of the entourage. She was unkempt and ragged, but once she started singing she had a beautiful voice. She smiled as she sang a single […]

    Read More

  • I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

    Many fathers dress up in red suits and white beards around Christmastime and bring joy and laughter to their children. But what happens when the children creep down from their bedroom late at night and catch “Santa” off guard? The song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” was written by Tommie Connor in 1952, with […]

    Read More

  • In the Bleak Midwinter

    “In the Bleak Midwinter” is based on a poem by Christina Rossetti, written around 1872. The evocative lyrics paint a picture of the Nativity in a snowy Northern landscape. The text of this Christmas poem has been set to music many times, the most famous settings being composed by Gustav Holst and Harold Edwin Darke […]

    Read More

  • Walking in the Air

    “Walking in the Air” is the only vocalization of the wordless 1982 animated film The Snowman, which is based on Raymond Briggs’ children’s book of the same name. The film is about the adventures of a young boy, who builds a snowman on Christmas Eve. The snowman comes to life, and the two fly to […]

    Read More

  • It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

    Edmund Hamilton Sears was a young Unitarian minister living in Massachusetts when he penned the poem “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” in 1849. It was published that year in the Christian Register magazine in Boston. The following year, Richard Storrs Willis, an editor and critic for the New York Tribune as well as an […]

    Read More

  • God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

    “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” is an old carol sung by the waits, the municipal watchmen of old England. The waits were licensed to perform the duty of singing seasonal songs to the gentry, or the upper-class citizens. The author of the carol is unknown. The song was first published in 1827 as an “ancient […]

    Read More

  • God Bless Us, Everyone

    Alan Menken, the acclaimed composer behind many of Disney’s films such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Enchanted and most recently Tangled, wrote this song, “God Bless Us, Everyone” for his 1994 musical based on the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. Lyrics were done by Lynn Ahrens, and the book by […]

    Read More

  • Candlelight Carol

    The music and lyrics to “Candlelight Carol” were written by the English choral composer and conductor John Rutter in 1984, and was first recorded by Rutter’s own group, the Cambridge Singers on their 1987 album Christmas Night. The song has since been recorded by many artists, including Neil Diamond, Joseph McManners, Aled Jones, and several […]

    Read More

  • O Holy Night

    Adolphe Charles Adam was an accomplished composer for opera, theatre, and ballet, and a teacher at the Paris Conservatoire. At the age of 27, in 1830, he had completed nearly 30 theatre productions. “Cantique de Noël,” translated to English as “O Holy Night” is one of his most famous works, done in collaboration with Adam’s […]

    Read More

  • Pachelbel’s Canon

    Pachelbel’s Canon,” also known as “Canon in D Major” is by Johann Pachelbel, a German composer from the Baroque era. Like most other works by Pachelbel and other pre-1700 composers, the Canon remained forgotten for centuries and was rediscovered only in the 20th century. Several decades after it was first published in 1919 by Gustav […]

    Read More

  • Little Drummer Boy

    “Little Drummer Boy,” originally titled “Carol of the Drum,” is based on a traditional Czech carol. In 1957, Henry Onorati arranged the song for a recording by the Jack Halloran Singers, but it was not released in time for Christmas. The next year, Harry Simeone was looking for material to create a Christmas album, and […]

    Read More

  • Away in a Manger

    In 1887, James R. Murray published this verse and called it “Luther’s Cradle Hymn, composed by Martin Luther for his children, and still sung by German mothers to their little ones.” Incidentally, Martin Luther, the famous father of the Reformation, was not the author, nor was Murray. The origin is a children’s Sunday school book […]

    Read More

  • Where Are You Christmas?

    This song, originally called “Christmas, Why Can’t I Find You,” was written by James Horner for the 2000 movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It was first performed by Taylor Momsen, who played Cindy Lou Who in the movie. A different version was later co-written by James Horner, Will Jennings and Mariah Carey, where it […]

    Read More

  • Were You There?

    The melodically captivating song “Were You There on That Christmas Night?” was written by Natalie Sleeth in 1976. Sleeth was an accomplished composer who received an Academic major in music and a BA in music theory at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. She married a Professor of Homiletics, Reverend Ronald E. Sleeth, and was a member […]

    Read More

  • 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 […]

    Read More

  • 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 […]

    Read More

  • 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?” […]

    Read More

  • Mary’s Lullaby

    There are many songs by the name “Mary’s Lullaby,” but this particular one comes from the Children’s Primary songbook, used by the LDS Church. It  is based on an old German folk tune, and is a simple sweet lullaby to the Christ child. The words were written by Jan Underwood Pinborough in 1989, with the […]

    Read More

  • 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 […]

    Read More

  • 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 […]

    Read More

  • Mary, Did You Know?

    The lyrics to “Mary, Did You Know?” were written by Mark Lowry in 1984, and the music was written by Buddy Greene six years later. The song has been recorded by many diverse artists, but Mark Lowry recorded his own version of the song on three of his albums. The first recording was on his […]

    Read More

  • Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire (The Christmas Song)

    “The Christmas Song,” also know as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” was composed by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells in 1944, incidentally during a hot summer. The most popular recording of this song was recorded by Nat King Cole in 1946. The descriptive language of the song is poignant and something anyone can identify […]

    Read More

  • Silver Bells

    “It’s practically the only song about Christmas in a big city, with department store lights, window displays, shoppers and all the rest,” said Ray Evans, describing the song he and Jay Livingston wrote in 1950. At the time the two were under contract to Paramount and were assigned to write a Christmas song for The […]

    Read More