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Archive Jolly Old Saint Nicholas mountain dulcimer tablature arrangement in the 1-3-5 tuning www.mountaindulcimer-1-3-5.com


Jolly Old Saint Nicholas


Words & Music: Traditional American (ca 1860)

Arranged by Elizabeth DiPietri



Neither a carol nor a hymn, this happy melody is written from the child’s point of view, anticipating the joys of Christmas. Notice the surprising fact that it is arranged in the key of E, even with a D-F#-A tuning! Elizabeth says this just turned out that way because the song sounded best to her in that key. Also, it is very easy to play.


Like all traditional folk tunes, the lyrics have varied down through the years. In the ones shown here, “Santa Claus” appears in the third verse, replacing jolly old “Saint Nicholas”. How did this all start?


There once was a kind and benevolent bishop named Nicholas, who lived during the 4th century A.D. in a small city on the Mediterranean coast in what now is part of Turkey. He is reputed to have been a benefactor to the poor and to all children, until his death on December 6 (352 or 345 A.D).  For some centuries thereafter, his fame grew as the patron saint of children, and the Christian church began to observe the Feast of Saint Nicholas annually on December 6.


It was not until the 16th century, during the reformation movement of the Christian churches in Germany and the Netherlands, that the celebration of Saint Nicholas was banned and replaced by an observance of the birth of the Christ child (Christkindlein). The tradition of gift-giving to children was still observed and the name of the gift-giver eventually became Kriss Kringle.  In the Netherlands, the same personage became Sinterklaas, from which we derive Santa Claus.


It thus appears that gift-giving, to children of the poor at least, has always been a fundamental part of what we now call Christmas.




From All of US – Gail, Ruth, Elizabeth and Merv…

Merry Christmas! and Blessings for the New Year










  Click to go to the TablEdit website and download their free demo version

If you do not have the Tabledit program, please click on the TablEdit banner to download a free .tef reader program.  It includes the ability to play this song at a slower speed (great for learning). TablEdit is a program for creating, editing, printing and listening to tablature and sheet music (standard notation) for fretted, stringed instruments.

  Click here to download a free version of Adobe Reader

Adobe® Reader® is a free software for viewing and printing Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files.


At this time we will be using the .MIDI music files produced by TablEdit..




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