Appalachia Christmas Music

On a Cold Winter’s Night that was so Deep

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem

The Christmas song The First Noel was never one of my favorites until Pap and Paul put it on their Songs of Christmas cd. Paul’s vocals are truly outstanding-between his voice, the music, and Pap’s tenor the song brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it.

After becoming enamored with the song, I began to wonder about it’s origin. I assumed it was from the early 1900s, but I was wrong.

  • The First Noel is one of the oldest Christmas songs around, as old as 400 years
  • There are some folks who think the song originated in France others think England
  • Noel-is a loud shout expressing the joy surrounding Christ’s birth
  • It’s considered a folk song
  • The original version had many grammatical errors showing that an uneducated person wrote the song (which makes it mean even more to me)
  • The writer was obviously excited about Christmas even though during that time period Bibles were not accessible to every day folks and even if they had been most people couldn’t read
  • For many years after the song was written the clergy frowned on songs such as The First Noel making it a true song of the people
  • In 1833 The First Noel was finally published by William Sandys and soon afterward The Church Of England began using the song as a hymn

Amazing how the song survived just by word of mouth; sung around the fire passed on to each generation. Knowing The First Noel was written by someone with not much education but a strong desire to express their joy of Christmas makes the song seem truly from the heart.

Listen to Paul and Pap’s version and see if you enjoy it too. Click on the link below that says The First Noel. You may have to hit the back button to get back to this page after listening to the song


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  • Reply
    libby rouse
    November 21, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    Oh I would love to win this CD, Paul and Pap’s singing and playing is the kind of music I grew up with and now I am an old Granny! So look forward to your blog and posts, as they bring me so many memories.

  • Reply
    Melinda kessler
    November 21, 2016 at 1:59 am

    I would like to win the Christmas CD. I’ve been wanting a sing-along for Christmas Eve as our family gathered for many years at that time. Some of our best singers are gone now & we need vocal & instrumental help!
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Melinda K.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    November 20, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    I have looked up the history of composition of many of our Christmas carols to write about them in various columns near Christmastime I’ve done for newspapers, but I had never traced the history of how “The First Noel” was written. And although there are unanswered questions about it yet, we have the beautiful song, and we thank the anonymous poet who gave us the lovely and touching words. I love Paul and Pap’s rendition of the carol, both their accompaniment and their singing. How very fortunate your were to record them before Pap went to sing with the heavenly choir! We are much richer because we can hear and appreciate. May all who read this have a wonderful Thanksgiving, full of gratitude and joy. And as we prepare for Christmas, may we remember and be truly grateful as we consider “the reason for the season.”

  • Reply
    November 20, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    I would sure like to have the Christmas cd! But, I’d also like to comment on the image of the Angel and Star overlooking Bethlehem: I am so intrigued by this every year, I think you mentioned it’s from an old card. I imagine it to be shiny in it’s monochrome beauty, like cards I admired as a child before they became more colorful.

  • Reply
    November 20, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving all !

  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    November 20, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    Beautiful! I love this CD, I won this it from you in the past and treasure it! Remember, I had Pap and Paul autograph it. 🙂

  • Reply
    November 20, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Did you hear about the drunk that entered the church and wanted to sing with the choir?
    They gave him a book and he sang, “LEON, LEON…” at the top of his lungs. The fellow beside him took his book and turned it over. He then sang, “NOEL, NOEL…”

  • Reply
    November 20, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Paul has a perfect voice for Christmas carols. I would love to win a copy to play Christmas Eve for my family. I am certain I will be on again, but just in case wishing you and your family and all the Blind Pig readers a blessed Thanksgiving.

  • Reply
    November 20, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    I’m like Ed, I bought one several years ago, so I don’t need another. Paul has a beautiful voice and his playing is something else, ‘course Pap’s high tenor puts the icing on the cake. I listen to them often. …Ken
    PS: Don has a nice voice also, he sent me a song he was singing one time.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    November 20, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    I have to tell you every time I read your readers’ comments, just how more pleasuring they make Blind Pig and the Acorn; all great writers and good people.
    This morning I am especially moved by Don Casada’s story, above. He and his brother are treasures in your site.
    Wonderful singing, beautiful song, Merry Christmas!!

  • Reply
    Carolyn Hunt
    November 20, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Beautiful harmony that lifts the soul of what Christmas is really about.

  • Reply
    Cynthia Schoonover
    November 20, 2016 at 11:47 am

    This is one of the prettiest versions I have ever heard, land I really enjoyed the guitar accompaniment. I knew it was a folk song, but had no idea it was that old.

  • Reply
    Kenneth Ryan
    November 20, 2016 at 11:46 am

    Goodness Gracious! That’s probably the best rendition that I’ve heard of The First Noel. It put me in the Christmas spirit, and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.

  • Reply
    C Ronald Perry
    November 20, 2016 at 10:16 am

    I know that you miss your father, especially during the Christmas season
    You have wonderful memories of him as well as well as great photos, music and video. I know that when you look at your beautiful daughters you can see and hear him there as well. And look in the mirror and see him there too.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 20, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Don’t enter me in the drawing for The Songs Of Christmas CD, as I have it already. Time to bring out all the Christmas carols/music for the year. Yes, I love Pap and Paul’s rendition of The First Noel!
    I bet that your Mother remembers getting little Christmas Carol brochures with the home delivery of milk or attached to the milk cartons in the store this time of year. It always had The First Noel in it as well as Silent Night, Away In the Manger, Joy to the World, etc. Between me and my Moms estate I managed to acquire at least three or five. One of my favorites was from a long ago gone home delivery milk company in East Tennessee, “Avondale Milk”. I’m sure that there is a Biltmore Dairy Christmas carol advertising brochure out there somewhere. I’d love to find one!
    It’s cold as “whiz” this morning and the wind is blowing up a storm, well, not a real storm but wish it was a storm coming. We are still needing rain. You know what (?), that term my parents always used just doesn’t seem to fit being real cold outside! I don’t know how they come to use that term for it being very cold of a’mornin’! ha
    Thanks Tipper great post,
    PS Guess you knew that Holly Dunn passed away on Monday the 14th of an aggressive form of ovarian cancer. Only 59 years old I think.
    One of my favorite songs she sung was “Daddy’s Hands”. It finally got to the top ten, if I remember correctly. She will be missed in the music world!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 20, 2016 at 9:54 am

    I already have the CD so to win it would deny it to someone else. I ain’t much of nothing but one good thing I ain’t is greedy.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    November 20, 2016 at 9:04 am

    A couple of weeks before Christmas when our oldest boy, Joshua, was about to turn two, he rode along with me to do a little Christmas shopping and give his Mama some time to herself.
    As we were driving along, I started singing Christmas Carols. As soon as I was finished with The First Noel, I was thinking about what I’d sing next. Joshua made the selection for me: “Again”
    So I did a repeat. Another “Again.” And so it went for the entire twenty or so minutes it took us to get to the store.
    Now anyone who has listened to me sing isn’t about to ask for an encore. It occurred to me that it was highly unlikely that my voice had suddenly become appealing, but that it was the simple, straightforward message and melody of the First Noel which struck a chord with Joshua.
    “Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

  • Reply
    November 20, 2016 at 8:56 am

    My favorite Christmas music is this CD by Pap and Paul. I have just about worn it out, so I will need a replacement soon. The cover picture is almost as beautiful as the music.

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    November 20, 2016 at 8:31 am

    Great rendition.I wished the school children could sing these type of songs like we did years ago.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    November 20, 2016 at 8:25 am

    This is great song on a wonderful CD. We bought one last year and it is a favorite of ours. I’ll admit that I broke my own rule and listeneed to it well into February.
    This was nicely timed. We woke to the first snow and listened to this song. What a significant start to the day!

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    November 20, 2016 at 8:24 am

    OH MY GOODNESS! Maybe! Just Maybe! I will be the lucky person to get a CD!
    Have a great THANKSGIVING! Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    November 20, 2016 at 8:20 am

    My cd is on the stereo and will remain there until after the holidays.
    I never tire of listening to their lovely harmony. Brings back so many memories.

  • Reply
    November 20, 2016 at 8:16 am

    This is one of my favorite Christmas carols. I hope I win it as I just enjoy listening to the music sung and produced by your family. My fingers are crossed.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 20, 2016 at 8:13 am

    This is one of my favorites

  • Reply
    November 20, 2016 at 7:43 am

    I enjoy listening to the music and reading your daily blog. I would like to have the Christmas CD to play on my way to work each day. Thank you.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 20, 2016 at 7:00 am

    It’s beautiful, Tip. This CD is sure going to brighten someone’s Christmas Season!

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