"Jingle Bells" is one of the best-known and commonly sung American Christmas songs in the world. It was written by James Lord Pierpont (1822–1893) and published under the title "One Horse Open Sleigh" in the autumn of 1857.
Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, 1820-1860
062.044 - The One Horse Open Sleigh. Song and Chorus. | Levy Music Collection
It has been claimed that it was originally written to be sung by a Sunday school choir; however, historians dispute this, stating that it was much too "racy" (and secular) to be sung by a children's church choir in the days it was written.
The original sheet music, under the name "One Horse Open Sleigh", was dedicated to "John P. Ordway, the founder of Ordway’s Aeolian Minstrel Troupe, a detail that has often gone unnoticed". Ordway’s theater in Boston Massachusetts was the site of the first-ever public performance of "Jingle Bells" on September 15, 1857, when the blackface minstrel Johnny Pell sang the song in a bit entitled, “Dandy Darkies.”
History of Jingle Bells | BU Today | Boston University
Mrs. Otis Waterman, one of Pierpoint's friends, described the song as a "merry little jingle", which became part of its new name when published in 1859 under the revised title of "Jingle Bells, or the One Horse Open Sleigh."
062.029 - Jingle Bells, or, The One Horse Open Sleigh. Song & Chorus. | Levy Music Collection
Jingle Bells - Wikipedia
But years before "Jingle Bells" was written, in 1849, blackface minstrel troupes performed a song titled "Darkie(s) Sleighing Party", also called "Jingle Jingle Clear The Way" or "Jingle, Jingle All The Way" and or "The Merry Sleigh Ride"
Early Sports and Pop Culture History Blog: Handbells, Cowbells and Jingle Bells - a History of American Handbell Choirs
Here's a song sheet from 1851:
A playbill from Ordway’s Aeolians dated 7 December 1853 includes “Jingle, Jingle—Clear de Way”, sung by S.C. Howard.
A playbill from 21 January 1854 includes “Jingle, Jingle, All the Way,” also sung by S. C. Howard.
In a playbill from Kunkel’s Nightingale Opera Troupe in New York dated 22 April 1853, and others for 7 and 9 January 1854, the song is listed as the “Darkies Sleighing Party” sung by Harry Lehr. The earlier performance includes the directions “with imitations.”
Inspiration for all these versions could have come from a poem titled "The Merry Sleigh", lyrics written by Lieutenant G.W. Patten and published in The Ladies Companion and Literary Expositor vol. 20 (December 1843)
With music by I.B. Woodbury, it was published in Boston in 1844: "The Merry Sleigh ride"
The first recorded version of the song came about in 1889, released on an Edison North American cylinder.
According to the Edison "Musical Cylinder Accounts", on September 30, 1889, banjo-player Will Lyle was the first artist to record "Banjo Jingles", also the first Christmas record, although no known copies of this record survive.
One of the earliest vocal examples of "Jingle Bells" does survive on an Edison brown wax cylinder entitled, "Sleigh Ride Party".
That version was recorded almost 9 years later by the Edison Male Quartette.
(c) Edison Male Quartette (1898) (incorporated in "Sleighride Party")
Jere Mahoney (T), John H. Bieling (T), Samuel H. Dudley (Bar), William F. Hooley (Bs)
Recorded June 1898 in New York
Released on Edison Gold Moulded Cylinder #2218
In 1902, almost the same Quartette made a recording of "Sleighride Party", released on the same Edison Cylinder #2218.
Only difference: Harry MacDonough had replaced Jere Mahoney, and the name of the group was changed to Haydn Quartette.
On the next link you can listen to various versions of the same release-number #2218 (some acapella and some with piano-accompaniment)
Edison Gold Moulded Record: 2218.. Edison Male Quartette. | UCSB Cylinder Audio Archive
(o) Greater New York Quartet (1898) (incorporated in "The Sleigh Ride Party")
Released on Columbia Brown Wax Cylinder #9040
COLUMBIA cylinders numerical listing discography: 8000 - 9999
Tinfoil.com - 12/2000 Cylinder of the Month
(c) Greater New York Quartet (with Len Spencer) (1898) (incorporated in "The Sleigh Ride Party")
Released on Columbia Brown Wax Cylinder # 9040
The Haydn Quartette also recorded several versions for the Columbia-label and for the Victor-label.
(c) Invincible Quartette (=Haydn Quartet) (1902) (incorporated in "The Sleigh Ride Party")
Released on Columbia Disc Record #450
Columbia matrix 450. The sleigh ride party / Columbia Quartette - Discography of American Historical Recordings
(c) Haydn Quartet) (1901) (incorporated in "A Sleighride Party")
Recorded February 7, 1901 in Camden, New Jersey
Released on Victor Monarch #3088
Victor matrix [Pre-matrix B-]3088. Sleigh ride party / Haydn Quartet - Discography of American Historical Recordings
Browse All Recordings | Sleigh ride party, Take  (1901-02-07) | National Jukebox LOC.gov
(c) Haydn Quartet) (1904) (incorporated in "Sleighride Party")
Recorded January 28, 1904
Released on Victor 658
Victor matrix B-985. Sleighride party / Haydn Quartet - Discography of American Historical Recordings
(c) Columbia Mixed Quartette (1915) (incorporated in "Medley Of Old-Time Songs")
Recorded July 24, 1915
Released on Columbia A-1811
Columbia matrix 45879. In the gloaming / Columbia Mixed Quartette - Discography of American Historical Recordings
Columbia A Series numerical listing discography: A1500 - A2000
(c) Victor Male Chorus (1916) (incorporated in "Favorite College Songs")
Recorded July 7, 1916 in Camden, New Jersey
Released on Victor 35573
Browse All Recordings | Favorite college songs, Take 3 (1916-07-07) | National Jukebox LOC.gov
Victor matrix C-18078. Favorite college songs / Victor Male Chorus - Discography of American Historical Recordings
The first "complete" version of "Jingle Bells", with the familiar title, I could find:
(c) Shannon Quartet (1925) (as "Jingle Bells")
Recorded August 21, 1925 in Camden, New Jersey
Released on Victor 19791
Victor matrix BVE-33090. Jingle bells / Shannon Quartet - Discography of American Historical Recordings
In 1935 Benny Goodman's instrumental version was the first act to hit the US Charts.
(c) Benny Goodman and his Orchestra (1935)
Recorded July 1, 1935 in New York
Released on Victor 25145
Victor matrix BS-92549. Jingle bells / Benny Goodman Orchestra - Discography of American Historical Recordings
In 1941 a vocal version by Glenn Miller also made the US Charts (#5)
(c) Glenn Miller and his Orchestra (1941)
Recorded October 20, 1941.
Released on Bluebird 11353
78 RPM - Glenn Miller - Jingle Bells / Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - Bluebird - USA - B-11353
Glenn Miller And His Orchestra / Alvino Rey And His Orchestra* - Jingle Bells / Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town (Shellac) at Discogs
The version by Bing Crosby (with the Andrews Sisters) hit the US Charts twice (in 1943 and 1947)
(c) Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters (1943)
Recorded September 29, 1943
Released on Decca 23281
78 RPM - Bing Crosby And The Andrews Sisters - Jingle Bells / Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town - Decca - USA - 23281
Bing Crosby And The Andrews Sisters With Vic Schoen And His Orchestra - Jingle Bells / Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town (Shellac) at Discogs
(c) Lisette Jambel (1948) (as "Vive Le Vent")
French lyrics by Francis Blanche
Released on Pathe PA 2584
Encyclopédisque - Disque : Vive le vent / Le petit horloger
Lisette Jambel - Vive Le Vent / Le Petit Horloger (Shellac) at Discogs
Even The Beatles sang a snippet of the song in their 1965 Christmas Record.
More versions here:
Cover versions of Jingle Bells written by James Pierpont | SecondHandSongs
The Originals © by Arnold Rypens - JINGLE BELLS