On Friday morning I found myself riding through the snow, but whilst my vehicle was open it lacked a horse (relying on one Fish-power) and was a bicycle rather than a sleigh. It did possess a bell, but not one I’ve ever really thought of as jingling.
The snow was very wet, and followed on from heavy rain (which was even wetter), and so did not lay. Nonetheless, a friend, who manages a small retail emporium, did report a surge in sales of sledges, shovels and hats with ear-flaps (very important if you want your ears to take-off and land successfully).
Last night I was at a carol concert in Lewes, and as a member of the audience was required to “join-in” a rendition of Jingle Bells (among other festive numbers). As is common, we sang only a subset of the verses which were handed down to us by James Lord Pierpoint (uncle to J P Morgan, but Lord in name only), who wrote the song back in 1857 to celebrate Thanksgiving. Even these more popular verses (and their associated refrains) sound rather sinister to the innocent listener, referring as they do to laughing while singing a “slaying song”. The generally omitted verses seem to refer to the attempted se- (and ab-) duction of one Fanny Bright, which appears to end in a crash. Certainly, our “hero” and Ms Bright are described as upsot – thought whether this refers to a state of advanced inebriation or is merely a rather fanciful past participle of the verb “to upset”, I know not. Our hero is then sighted after the crash by a fellow sleigher, who laughs but fails to stop. No further reference is made to Ms Bright, but frankly I fear the worst as in the final verse we are inveigled to “go it while you’re young, take the girls tonight”. Even if we ignore the marginal grammar, the message is truly chilling.
Sadly, Jingle Bells is far from the only “Christmas” song with disturbing lyrics. The singers of We Wish You A Merry Christmas are openly threatening if they do not get some “figgy pudding” – which sounds like a euphemism to me. Hark the Herald Angels Sing contains the line “veiled in flesh the Godhead see” which is pure filth, and would surely require an 18 certificate?
But, I have saved the worst for last. How the traditional English translation of Adeste Fideles is allowed, I will never know; Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood was banned by the BBC for far less. Whilst I can understand the need to bring the faithful to climax if the Christian faith is to continue, is it really appropriate to sing so lustily about it when children are present?