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December 15

"Up on the Housetop" is one of the first completely secular Christmas songs composed in the United States. To record this brother and sister collaboration, I played the banjo part and sent it to Gwen, who is studying abroad in Edinburgh. She recorded the voice and whistling tracks, and then sent everything back to me for mixing. We recorded in the key of G#. Everyone in the Barlow family is looking forward to having Gwen home for Christmas!

Downloads: mp3

Up on the Housetop

Performed by Gwen Barlow singing and whistling and Greg Barlow on banjo

Words and music: Benjamin Russell Hanby, circa 1860.

Up on the housetop reindeer pause,
Out jumps good old Santa Claus.
Down through the chimney with lots of toys,
All for the little ones, Christmas joys.

Ho, ho, ho! Who wouldn't go?
Ho, ho, ho! Who wouldn't go?
Up on the housetop, click, click, click.
Down through the chimney with old Saint Nick.

First comes the stocking of little Nell;
Oh, dear Santa, fill it well;
Give her a dolly that laughs and cries,
One that will open and shut her eyes.


Next comes the stocking of little Will;
Oh, just see what a glorious fill!
Here is a hammer and lots of tacks,
Also a ball and a whip that cracks.


Sources and more information