Up on the House Top

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

"Up on the House Top" is a Christmas song written by Benjamin Hanby in 1864 in the town of New Paris, Ohio.[1] 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


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 (although the latter was originally intended as a Thanksgiving song). 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 roof of homes to Clement C. Moore's 1822 poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (also commonly known as "The Night Before Christmas").[2] 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 doesn't know whether he is Saint Nick or a cat burglar.[3]

Cover versions[edit]

Kimberley Locke version[edit]

"Up on the Housetop"
Single by Kimberley Locke
from the album Christmas
Released 2005
Label Curb Records
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

Other notable cover versions[edit]


Preceded by
"Lonely No More" by Rob Thomas
Billboard Adult Contemporary number-one single by
December 17, 2005 - January 7, 2006
Succeeded by
"Lonely No More" by Rob Thomas