Up on the House Top

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"Up on the House Top" is a Christmas song written by Benjamin Hanby in 1864.[1][2] It has been recorded by a multitude of singers, most notably Gene Autry in 1953.

Up on the Housetop

The Airmen of Note, 2009, Jazz Version

Modern lyrics[edit]

Verse 1:
Up on the (housetop/rooftop) 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 (good / nice / old) Saint Nick.

Verse 2:
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.
Repeat chorus

Verse 3:
(Look in / Next comes) the stocking of little (Will/Bill);
Oh just see what a glorious fill!
Here is a hammer and lots of tacks;
A whistle and a ball and a whip that cracks!

Repeat chorus

Original lyrics[edit]

Verse 1[3]
Up on the house, no delay, no pause
Clatter the steed of Santa Claus.
Down thro' the chimney with loads of toys
Ho for the little ones, Christmas joys.


According to William Studwell in The Christmas Carol Reader, "Up on the House Top" was the second-oldest secular Christmas song, outdone only by "Jingle Bells", which was written in 1857. It is also considered the first Yuletide song to focus primarily on Santa Claus. According to Readers Digest Merry Christmas Song Book, Hanby probably owes the idea that Santa and his sleigh land on the roofs of homes to Clement C. Moore's 1822 poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (also commonly known as "The Night Before Christmas").[4] Benjamin Russell Hanby was born in 1833 near Rushville, Ohio, the son of a minister involved with the Underground Railroad. During his short life, he wrote some 80 songs before dying of tuberculosis in 1867. Other than "Up on the House Top", his best-known song is "Darling Nelly Gray".

Benjamin Hanby, author of the Christmas classic.

On television[edit]

In 1992, a syndicated television special of the same name, produced by Perennial Pictures Film Corporation in Indianapolis, Indiana, was released. Co-writer/co-producer/co-director G. Brian Reynolds also was the voice of Curtis Calhoun, and also composed the musical score. His creative partner, Russ Harris, co-wrote, co-produced, co-directed and also did voiceover work in this special. The special is the story of Curtis Calhoun, a miserable man who wishes that there were no Santa Claus. But then on Christmas Eve, someone is on top of the Calhouns' roof, and Curtis does not know whether he is Saint Nick or a cat burglar.[5]

Cover versions[edit]

Kimberley Locke version[edit]

"Up on the Housetop"
Single by Kimberley Locke
from the album Christmas
LabelCurb Records
Songwriter(s)Benjamin Hanby
Producer(s)Mike Curb, Michael Lloyd
Kimberley Locke singles chronology
"I Could"
"Up on the Housetop"
"Jingle Bells"

In 2005, the song was brought back to life with a new recording by Kimberley Locke. The recording broke a Billboard record when it made the largest leap into the Top 5 in the AC chart's history, moving from 32 to 5 in only a week. It was also the second longest Billboard holiday AC chart topper in the chart's history, sitting at #1 for 4 consecutive weeks.

Kimberley Locke Version
Chart (2005/2006) Peak
US Adult Contemporary 1
Hot Adult Contemporary Recurrents 15
Top AC Singles of 2006 36

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2006) Position
US Adult Contemporary[6] 36

Other notable versions[edit]


  1. ^ Bronson, Fred "Signs Of The Season", Billboard Magazine; December 6, 2007.
  2. ^ At Christmas time in 1864, Benjamin Hanby was operating a singing school in New Paris, OH, where he wrote the song now known as Up on the House Top.
  3. ^ The Times, Shreveport, Louisiana. 20 Dec 1964. Pg. 15. https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/211565200/
  4. ^ http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/up_on_the_housetop.htm
  5. ^ Up on the Housetop (TV Movie 1992) on IMDb
  6. ^ "Adult Contemporary Songs – Year-End 2006". Billboard. Retrieved September 20, 2019.

External links[edit]