"Carts came to town and Shops open as is usual. Some, somehow, observe the day; but are vexed, I believe, that the Body of the People profane it, and, blessed be God! no Authority yet to compell them to keep it," Sewell wrote in 1685.
It’s sometimes sung with lines about Christmas replacing Thanksgiving, so that the line "Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!" becomes "Hurrah for Christmas Day!" The song reflects wintertime in New England in the early 19th century, which at that time “was enduring the Little Ice Age, a colder era with earlier winters.” The picture that she paints of a family Christmas has become the iconic image that we all to this day aim to recreate, as we endure travel miseries to gather from across the country to share the holidays with our families.
But the tune we sing it by now was written a year after the lyrics by an organist from New York named Richard Storrs Willis.
His father, in contrast, served as a chaplain with the Union army in Washington DC. After the war James Pierpont moved to Valdosta and then to Florida, where he died in 1893. His family has one more connection of note – his nephew was the financier J. Pierpont Morgan, said to have more money than the U.S. Treasury.