How to play Jingle Bells on Guitar

Introduction

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Christmas time is here, and carols are some of the easiest melodies to learn on just about any instrument.  Jingle Bells, written by James Pierpont in the 19th century, is undoubtedly one of the most popular of them, despite the fact that it wasn’t written with the intention of becoming a Christmas song and the original lyrics dealt with sleigh racing. This tune now so commonly associated with the Christmas time is in fact the first song ever broadcasted from outer space.

In today’s article, I will explain a bit of the theory behind the song’s chord progressions and link you to a lesson that in my opinion is the most adequate for beginners. You can learn to play this song as a part of the special Christmas special learning path with with lyrics and strumming trainer in our Uberchord app.

Key of the Song

The original key of the song is G major, but as it often happens with popular songs, the key of the song may be adjusted to suit the preferences of the singer or the level of mastery of someone on an instrument. You may use a capo to ease the transposition of the music.

When doing research for this article I also came across a few different versions of the song, as far as chords employed is concerned. Some of them more elaborate than others. The simplest one features a I IV V7 in the key of G major. The more elaborate one includes a borrowed chord from a related key (D major), in this case an A major or A7 (V/V) which leads nicely to the last chord of the progression, D7.

In the easy version you’d have the following structure:

Verses:

I – IV – V7  (G – C – D7)

Chorus:

I – IV – I – V7 (G – C – G – D7)

The harmonically „richer” version features a new chord in the chorus:

I – IV – I – V7/V – V7  (G – C – G – A7 – D7)

Perhaps the trickiest chord out of them all will be G major. I say “perhaps” because this depends on the age of the interpreter. Refer to the following article on G Chord and the Key of G.

Chords for Jingle Bells

This is a fairly easy tune as all of the chords can be played in the first position. If you’ve been playing for a while, you probably know all of the chords needed.

 

As explained above, A7 is a rather optional chord in this context. I personally like adding it to the progression (refer to the Roman numerals above).

Watch how to play Jingle Bells on Guitar

Jingle Bells – Lyrics

Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way

Bells on bobtail ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight!

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way.
Oh! what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way;
Oh! what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

A day or two ago
I thought I’d take a ride
And soon, Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side,
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And then we got upset.
(chorus)

A day or two ago,
The story I must tell
I went out on the snow,
And on my back I fell;
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh,
He laughed as there I sprawling lie,
But quickly drove away.
(chorus)

Now the ground is white
Go it while you’re young,
Take the girls tonight
and sing this sleighing song;
Just get a bobtailed bay
Two forty as his speed
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack! you’ll take the lead.