Dec. 11: Three Christmas songs a year is 3 Chords a Day’s policy. So, exactly two weeks before the holiday, here’s our first, from the Father of Bluegrass Music, Bill Monroe.

Click to listen

Tex Logan, an on-again-off-again fiddler in the Blue Grass Boys, wrote it. Monroe cut this version in October 1951 at the old Castle Studio in downtown Nashville, with Gordon Terry on the fiddle and guitarist/frontman Edd Mayfield’s voice taking the lead on the chorus. Producer Owen Bradley is playing the very un-bluegrass but supremely bell-like vibraphone.

Each new generation of country and bluegrass artists supplies at least one version of this song, including Jimmy Martin, Johnny Cash, Bill Anderson, Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, Sammy Kershaw. You’ll know who’s next when you turn on country radio this time of year and hear the bells ringing, bringing joy to all, hear them singing …

Next up, next Friday: the Southerner’s Christmas anthem.