‘Christmas Bells,’ John Gorka



Singer-songwriter John Gorka, who grew up in Colonia, wrote one of the all-time greatest (and funniest) New Jersey songs, “I’m From New Jersey,” and yes, it will be included in the 350 Jersey Songs series.

But today, for obvious reasons, I’m featuring a different Gorka number: “Christmas Bells,” his adaptation of the poem of the same name that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote in 1863 (significantly, during the dark days of the Civil War). Gorka leaves out some of the verses, but Longfellow’s message — that no matter how bad things can look for mankind, there is still hope — comes through loud and clear.

In 1990, Gorka’s recording was included on the third volume of the A Winster’s Solstice compilation that used to be put together annually by the Windham Hill label. The version below is from a 2013 concert.

New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday from Sept. 2014 to Sept. 2015. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, for almost a year — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. The complete list is here.


Since launching in September 2014, NJArts.net, a 501(c)(3) organization, has become one of the most important media outlets for the Garden State arts scene. And it has always offered its content without a subscription fee, or a paywall. Its continued existence depends on support from members of that scene, and the state’s arts lovers. Please consider making a contribution of any amount to NJArts.net via PayPal, or by sending a check made out to NJArts.net to 11 Skytop Terrace, Montclair, NJ 07043.


Custom Amount

Personal Info

Donation Total: $20.00

Explore more articles:

Leave a Comment

Sign up for our Newsletter