The 12 Posts of Christmas, Day 1: A Simple Song

Inside: The birth of a beloved Christmas song on day one of The 12 Posts of Christmas.

12 Posts of Christmas Happy Accident

A Simple Song

Bob Wells didn’t set out to write one of the most beloved Christmas songs when he penned words to help him stay cool on a blistering July day. But his scribblings about chestnuts roasting and Jack Frost, Yuletide carols and folks wearing warm clothing caught the eye of Mel Torme who arrived at Wells’ home for a writing session.

Torme had let himself into the Toluca Lake house, called out for Wells, and then wandered over to the piano, spotting his writing partner’s notes–four lines of a short poem. When Wells walked in, Torme asked him about it, and Wells confessed he was trying to cool himself off through his writing, but all he could think about was Christmas and cold weather. One line from the poem came from a childhood memory of Boston street vendors selling roasted chestnuts in paper cones.

Torme told his friend that he had something there and promptly sat down at the piano and composed a melody for the opening. Forty minutes later a song was born–“The Christmas Song.”

While I like Mel Torme’s version, nobody sings it quite like Nat King Cole. But my most favorite singers? My parents bursting out in a spontaneous duet, singing “The Christmas Song.”

You never know when the spark of something amazing can come from something so simple, like words jotted down on paper. I’m certainly glad Wells wrote down those cold weather thoughts that hot summer day back in 1945.

12 Posts of Christmas Simple Song
Chestnuts roasting but not sure about Jack Frost nipping.

What’s your favorite Christmas song? Tell us about it in the comments.

Tomorrow, The 12 Posts of Christmas, Day 2: Spiced Nuts.

Related posts: A Rural Girl’s Favorite Things Christmas Gift Guide

The Story of the Hillbilly Christmas Wreath

Winter Skies, Making and Baking, and Other News Fresh From the Farm

6 Responses

  1. Kathy Wasser

    Oh Holy Night is my favorite Christmas song…..

    Your hillbilly wreath is my new favorite Christmas decoration!!


      That’s one of my favorites, though, admittedly, I have many favorites! Thanks for helping to spread the word about our Hillbilly Christmas Wreath! 🙂


      Kelly, just listened to the song–beautiful! Hannah Kerr has a great voice, and I imagine this will become a new Christmas favorite! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  2. Cheryl Carter

    My favorite Christmas song us Silent Night. Standing with so many other folks in a candlelight service singing Silent Night is about the only time I ever truly feel the unity that I think God intended us to have. Here’s the story…

    On Christmas Eve of 1818 the young priest of St. Nicholas parish church in Obendorf faced disaster. The organ had been incapacitated by mice. The chance of fixing the instrument before the evening service was nil. Father Joseph Mohr was not a man to just give up however. He pulled out a poem he had written several years before called “Stille Nacht”. Mohr took his poem to the schoolmaster and organist of a nearby town, Franz Xaver Gruber. He asked that Gruber write a melody to accompany the poem on guitar. In several hours, Gruber had the music done and the carol was played for the first time that night at the Christmas Eve service.

    The song was not translated into English for another 50 years. Episcopalian bishop John Freeman Young published the English translation that is most frequently sung today in 1859. The writing of the song is unique enough but one other interesting factoid makes this carol special. In 1914, during the Christmas truce, the song was sung in French, English and German simultaneously. It was apparently the one song that all the soldiers on both sides knew.

    (Have missed reading your blog!)


      Calen, so good to hear from you!! Been thinking of you and HL, saying prayers for you when you come to mind. Hope you both are doing better! I had dropped by your blog to see if you were posting, and it did my heart good to see you had started back up again!

      Thanks so much for sharing the story behind “Silent Night,” and also for that link. WOW! Powerful! It choked me up, and I wiped a couple of tears away. Did you see the movie about this? Think it’s called JOYEUX NOEL, though I’m not sure I am remembering the title correctly, much less getting the spelling correct. I was actually thinking of trying to find it to rent or stream for when my daughter and son-in-law come over because he’s such a history buff.

      I must drop by Impromptu for a visit soon!