Tune of the Day: Up on the Housetop
“Up on the Housetop” may well have been the first American song of importance which elaborates on the theme of Santa Claus. It is also one of the first entirely secular Christmas songs composed in the United States. Written by little-known Ohioan composer Benjamin Russell Hanby for use as a Christmas sing-along, this vivacious song is an especial favorite of children.
According to researcher William Studwell, Hanby may possibly have composed another popular carol, “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas”, which is of roughly the same period and which has a suspiciously similar style of music and lyrics. There is absolutely no evidence that Hanby was responsible for the other song, yet the chronological and stylistic coincidences do elicit the conjecture that Hanby might have authored both songs. At the least, Hanby's ”Up on the Housetop” may have influenced “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas”.
In 2005, “Up on the Housetop” was brought back to life with a new recording by American Idol singer Kimberley Locke. The recording broke a Billboard record when it made the largest leap into the Top 5 in the chart's history, moving from 32 to 5 in only a week. It was also the second longest Billboard holiday chart topper in the chart's history, sitting at #1 for 4 consecutive weeks.