Christmas Clawhammer Banjo

We Three Kings – Clawhammer Banjo Tab

We Three Kings of Orient Are is a Christmas carol (technically an Epiphany carol) written in 1857 by Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr., who wrote both the words and the music as part of a Christmas pageant for the General Theological Seminary in New York City. It first appeared in his Carols, Hymns and Song in 1863.

Hopkins was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1820, and died in Hudson, New York in 1891. He was a clergyman, author, book illustrator, stained glass window designer, and editor of the Church Journal out of New York.

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Up on the Housetop – Clawhammer Banjo Tab

Benjamin Russell Hanby (July 22, 1833 – March 16, 1867) was an American composer who wrote approximately 80 songs, the most famous of which are “Darling Nelly Gray” and the Christmas song “Up on the Housetop”.

Hanby was born near Rushville, Ohio. He later moved with his family to Westerville in 1853 where he attended Otterbein College.

Hanby composed “Darling Nelly Gray” in 1856 in what is now a state historical site, the Hanby House, located at 160 West Main Street in Westerville, adjacent to the campus of Otterbein College. After graduation Hanby briefly taught school and then became a minister. During his tenure as minister of a church near Dayton he composed “Up on the Housetop” in 1864 for use as a Christmas sing-along.

In 1865 Chicago publisher George Frederick Root published “Up on the Housetop” and brought Hanby to Chicago to pursue other publishing ventures. Hanby died from tuberculosis in Chicago on March 16, 1867.

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O Little Town of Bethlehem – Clawhammer Banjo Tab

“O Little Town of Bethlehem” is a popular Christmas carol. Phillips Brooks, an Episcopal priest, was inspired in 1865 when he was visiting the town of Bethlehem. Three years later, he wrote the poem for his church and his organist, Lewis Redner, added the music. Redner’s tune called “St. Louis” is the tune used most often for this carol in the United States. The English tune called “Forest Green”, adapted by Ralph Vaughan Williams, is the tune most often used for this carol in the United Kingdom and sometimes in the U.S. as well, especially in the Episcopal Church.

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O Come All Ye Faithful – Clawhammer Banjo Tab

“Adeste Fideles” or “O Come All Ye Faithful” is a Christmas carol commonly attributed to John Francis Wade in approximately 1743. Wade was a Catholic layman, a music teacher, who fled the Jacobite rebellion in 1745. He went to the English College, Douai which was a refuge for English Catholics after the abdication of James II in 1688. The words may therefore be attributed to Wade or to others, but certainly originate amongst exiled Jacobite Roman Catholics of the 1740s.

The earliest existing manuscript shows both words and tune. It was published in the 1760 edition of Evening Offices of the Church. John Francis Wade included it in his own publication of Cantus Diversi (1751). It also appeared in Samuel Webbe’s An Essay on the Church Plain Chant (1782).

The title “Adeste Fideles” is usually reserved for the Latin original, and “O Come All Ye Faithful” for the English translation.

It is sometimes referred to as the “Portuguese Hymn” as it was often sung in the Portuguese Embassy in London where Vincent Novello was organist, and who erroneously ascribed the tune to John Redding. It has also on occasions been erroneously attributed to the 13th century saint, Saint Bonaventure.

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Jolly Old St. Nicholas – Clawhammer Banjo Tab

The origin of “Jolly Old St. Nicholas” is not entirely clear although it was probably written in the mid nineteenth century and is one of the first songs in which Santa Claus was a prominent figure. Because of its similarity to “Up on the Housetop” many people believe it was written by Benjamin Hanby.

Benjamin Russell Hanby (July 22, 1833 – March 16, 1867) was an American composer who wrote approximately 80 songs, the most famous of which are “Darling Nelly Gray” and the Christmas song “Up on the Housetop”.

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Jingle Bells – Clawhammer Banjo Tab

“Jingle Bells,” originally “One Horse Open Sleigh,” is one of the best known and commonly sung secular Christmas songs in the world. It was written in 1857 by James Pierpont (1822–1893) to be sung at a Thanksgiving program at his church in Boston, and was repeated at Christmas due to its instant popularity. The song has been translated into many languages.

As originally published, the song had a different melody as its chorus part, which was less joyful and more classical, Mozart-like sounding. It is unknown who replaced the chorus with its modern version.

“Jingle Bells” was the first song broadcast from space, in a Christmas-themed prank by Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra, December 16, 1965. Contacting Mission Control with a report:

“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.”

In Ontario (a province in Canada), sleigh bells are mandated by law, and persons breaking the law are subject to a $5 fine. The law states: “Every person traveling on a highway with a sleigh or sled drawn by a horse or other animal shall have at least two bells attached to the harness or to the sleigh or sled in such a manner as to give ample warning sound.”

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