Appalachia Christmas Music

The First Noel

Oh beautiful star 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 on the cd.

After becoming enamored with the song-I began to wonder about it’s origin. I assumed it was from the early 1900s-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-some 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 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. Somehow 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.

We are very grateful and humbled by all you folks who have purchased one of Pap and Paul’s Songs of Christmas cds-THANK YOU! It really is packed with some of the best Christmas music I have ever heard. You can go here-Pap and Paul’s Music to purchase a cd.


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  • Reply
    November 27, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Hey, I enjoyed the song and the history made me get all mushy inside. Thank you Tipper.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    November 25, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Congradulations to Judy on your win.
    Tipper introduced me to you at the
    Fall Festival.
    And since I already have the Songs
    of Christmas CD, if I should win,
    just draw another name. I listen to
    the Christmas CD alot, and it’s
    really Nice…Ken

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    November 25, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Beautiful! I love that song….. and Pap and Paul do it justice!

  • Reply
    November 24, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    Thank you for that beautiful song. I would love one of their cds! You have put me in the Christmas spirit and I will have to put my tree up. 🙂

  • Reply
    Joshua Casada
    November 24, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    This is a really great version, Pap’s harmonies really set it off. Like my Dad said, this has always been one of my favorite songs, and that is one of my favorite Christmas memories.

  • Reply
    Mel H.
    November 24, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Mighty fine singing–mighty fine!!

  • Reply
    Phyllis S
    November 24, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Perfectly beautiful rendition of this lovely Christmas carol and a
    great start to the day.

  • Reply
    November 24, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Paul and Pap sing to the soul of the song – not to hear themselves sing. That’s what makes their music so lovely.

  • Reply
    November 24, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    I wasn’t able to get the song to play while online this time, but I will try again later. There was always something magical and blessed in meaning for this song. I always felt some sort of respect for the words and how it made me feel as I sang it, especially as a child. The history is very interesting.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    I always loved the Christmas Carol, “The First Noel”!
    It is amazing how when you are a youngn’ the words seem to get confused..Sometimes it is right funny to hear a little one sing Christmas carols…I was so sure that on the “cold winter’s night that was so deep” that there was at least a foot of snow! Of course along with this was why oh why, would certain shepards be out in that deep snow whatching the star? The line “certain poor shepards in fields where they lay” was confusing to me for a very long time…I grew up accepting the words and singing them as I heard them. I was sure that somewhere in the song was about the snow falling! Wasn’t until years later when reading the lyrics in a Christmas Carol handbook that there was no mention of a snow on that cold winters night!
    Just beautiful gang!
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    Patti Tappel
    November 24, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    yesterday Lizzie and I had “Lizzie and Grandma” day. She is 4 years old.
    On our way home from shopping and eating out I popped the Wilson Christmas Cd in. The next thing I knew she was singing along with it. I asked how she knew Away in the manager? She told me she is practicing it at school every day for their program.
    She also said she knows We wish you a Merry Christmas.
    Wonder how many 4 year olds sing along with your Pap and brother?
    Happy holidays to you all!

  • Reply
    Mrs. K
    November 24, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Oh gosh, what a beautiful rendition!

  • Reply
    Ken Ryan
    November 24, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Wow! Great job on The First Noel. A great way to start my morning. And I enjoyed reading your history of the tune.

  • Reply
    Shawn J
    November 24, 2013 at 10:31 am

    That was beautiful, my father loves this older music. I would love to win one of the cds. Thank you for sharing your stories I love reading them.
    smjohns63 at yahoo dot com

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    November 24, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Tipper, As I finish listening to this song, I am headed to church this morning, I asked the Lord to help me worship with a shout of Noel. Their voices and the song makes me teary eyed this morning. What a blessing.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 24, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Well! I had to listen to this nine times before I even thought about offering a comment. I am going to be rudely blunt here. The first strum of the guitar sounds a little bit off. After that was absolute perfection. Paul’s voice was strong and pure. Pap’s harmony wouldn’t have been necessary but adds tremendously. Like diamonds in a piece of jewelry. Paul doesn’t let the guitar dominate but when it does take its part, it is clean and clear. I don’t know if the violins in the background are really there or are coming from my head but they (it) play their part perfectly. What else can I say? This is world class!

  • Reply
    November 24, 2013 at 9:10 am

    It was beautiful – as usual! I challenge anyone; look to see if you can find anything, word, song, or graphic about Christmas that is not beautiful.

  • Reply
    Gina S
    November 24, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Truly beautiful. Hearing mountain voices accompanied by their own playing brings memories to mind for me.

  • Reply
    November 24, 2013 at 8:34 am

    The First Noel is one of my favorite Christmas songs. Paul and Pap’s version brings tears to my eyes, too.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 24, 2013 at 7:54 am

    Congratulations to Judy!!
    Tipper, I love the angel picture on this post. It’s like an old Christmas card. It’s much sweeter than the ones I see on cards now.
    Your right, the song brings tears.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    November 24, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Really beautiful (what else would you expect from Paul?)
    When our oldest boy, Joshua, was about three, I took him out with me one evening as I was running some errands a week or so before Christmas. I was singing some Christmas carols as we rode along. After singing The First Noel, he said “again.”
    So I sang it once more.
    Another “again.”
    As the carol goes, “and so it continued.” I bet I sang it a dozen times that evening and he never tired of it.
    Now my singing – if you can call it that – is light years away from Paul, but there really is something about the melody and simplicity of the story of Christmas with its message which takes hold of your heart. That evening certainly made a memory to harmonize with the message.

  • Reply
    November 24, 2013 at 7:36 am

    so beautiful and their voices blend in sweet harmony on a wonderful old song..

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 24, 2013 at 7:17 am

    Oh my that was just lovely!

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    November 24, 2013 at 6:55 am

    Tipper: THE CHECK IS IN THE MAIL and I can not wait to receive and share “The First Noel” with my family. My grandsons are getting very serious about their band. They have a couple of VERY TALENTED fellows who have joined them. So we expect a great celebration soon. They all went to the UT/VANDY football game last evening and probably came home mighty low. I don’t know what we are to do with that UT FOOTBALL TEAM! There is certainly no BOWL GAME in our future this year! Oh well.
    Eva Nell

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