A few days ago, I was at an informal carol-singing event (in a barn, which seemed appropriate for the season). Amongst the gentle fun of singing carols and other Christmas songs, I discovered just how dirgy many of the later verses of a lot of these hymns and songs are (and goodness knows what sort of a downer Christina Rossetti was on when she wrote In The Bleak Midwinter).
Then we got to Jingle Bells. It’s traditional, isn’t it? It’s cheery too.
Of course, we only usually sing the first verse and chorus, so naturally it’s an upbeat festive tradition. I actually wasn’t aware that there were two more verses until that evening. And they are beyond mad.
Verse two recounts a horse ride with a friend. Miss Fannie Bright (I refuse to comment further on that). They have a lovely horse which rides into a bank of snow leaving them feeling somewhat down. The verse even manages to fail to rhyme at one point…
Verse three is even stranger. It recounts how the singer went out in the snow and fell over. To compound his misfortune, a man rides up in his sleigh and laughs at him lying on his back (and presumably not making snow angels). By this point, it’s probably no surprise that the sleigh rider doesn’t offer the stricken singer any help, but just rides away.
Here are the actual lyrics to the offending verses:
A day or two ago
I thought I’d take a ride
And soon Miss Fannie Bright
was seated by my side
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And we all got upset
A day of two ago
The story I must tell
I went out on the snow
And on my back I fell;
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh
He laughed a there I sprawling lie
But quickly drove away
I can only hope that your Christmas will be happier than this!