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Jingle Bells: What means 240 as his speed

03 Dec 05 - 11:16 AM (#1619301)
Subject: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: Cool Beans

In the fourth (?) verse of Jingle Bells there's a reference to a fast horse, "two-forty as his speed?" What's that mean? 240 hoofbeats per minute? Something else?

Now the ground is white,
Go it while you're young,
Take the girls along
And sing this sleighing song.
Just get a bob-tailed bay,
Two-forty as his speed,
Hitch him to an open sleigh
and crack! You'll take the lead.


03 Dec 05 - 11:19 AM (#1619304)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: Ron Davies

Good question. I'd be curious too.


03 Dec 05 - 11:33 AM (#1619313)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: masato sakurai

I have once consulted a dictionary about this expression.
two-forty [so called fr. its having once been a trotting record] 1: a speed of a mile in two minutes and forty seconds 2: high speed
--Webster's Third New International Dictionary


03 Dec 05 - 11:37 AM (#1619315)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: Ron Davies

Thanks, Masato.


03 Dec 05 - 06:24 PM (#1619499)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: Liz the Squeak

There's a fourth verse??!!!!

LTS


03 Dec 05 - 06:41 PM (#1619511)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: Peace

"Jingle Bells!

Believe it or not Jingle Bells, one of the most famous American Christmas songs, was originally written for Thanksgiving! The author and composer of Jingle Bells was a minister called James Pierpoint who composed the song in 1857 for children celebrating his Boston Sunday School Thanksgiving. The song was so popular that it was repeated at Christmas, and indeed Jingle Bells has been reprised ever since."

from here.


03 Dec 05 - 06:51 PM (#1619515)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: s&r

The verse that cracks me up is

A day or two ago I thought we'd take a ride
And soon miss Fanny Bright was seated by my side
The horse was lean and lank misfortune seemed his lot
we fell into a drifted bank and we we got upsot

MacGonnegal(?) rules

Stu


03 Dec 05 - 07:56 PM (#1619548)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: masato sakurai

For the original version, see my post at Lyr Add: THE ONE HORSE OPEN SLEIGH (Jingle Bells). And midi & converted mp3 files are here, where John Pierpont is a mistake.


03 Dec 05 - 08:04 PM (#1619549)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: jimmyt

2:40 is a reference to the racetrack. People who watch horseraces refer to the time for a mile


04 Dec 05 - 11:00 AM (#1619802)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: hesperis

Cool, that is the 4th verse... my mother had a collection of 1890's songs that left out the 3rd verse, apparently. 1857? Whoa, nelly.


04 Dec 05 - 11:56 AM (#1619817)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: Cool Beans

Thanks, professor. You've done it again.
Incidentally, "Jingle Bells" author James Pierpont's little nephew also made a name for himself: J.P. Morgan.


05 Dec 05 - 04:57 AM (#1620245)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: IanC

Two Forty never made much sense to us, so we use a (rationalised) version of the words which one of my friends has always sung (from his mum)

"Fourteen two for speed"

(i.e. 14 hands 2 inches)

:-)


05 Dec 05 - 11:00 PM (#1620876)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: Kaleea

As a kid I listened to the Arthur Godfrey ( and all the little Godfreys) Christmas album in which he added a verse. At the time we thought it was hilarious. I use it at nursing homes & they get a kick out of it. Some even remember it.

A day or two ago'
This story I must tell;
I went out on the snow;
And on my backside fell;
A jet was flying by;
In a one horse open sleigh;
He laughed as there I sprawling lie
   and quickly flew away.


08 Dec 05 - 09:50 PM (#1623340)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: GUEST,larrybethf

Standardbred Horses were the first to break the mile in three minutes. Two Forty, meant that the horse ran 16 miles an hour, which was very fast...one mile in two minutes, forty seconds. Now horses have been bred to run One Eighty!


09 Dec 05 - 03:45 AM (#1623454)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: IanC

Kaleea

Hardly a new verse since (with Gent spelt properly etc.) it appears in the original sheet music.

:-)


09 Dec 05 - 09:00 AM (#1623485)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: Cool Beans

Is 0ne Eighty in horseland, the same thing as Two Twenty in my country? 1 minute, 80 seconds would be two minutes, 20 seconds, no? With a 60-second minute and all. Am I missing something?


09 Dec 05 - 10:21 AM (#1623546)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: GUEST

I think there is some "fuzzy" math going on here. If a horse can run a mile in 2 minutes 40 seconds, at that same rate it would be able to run 22.5 miles in an hour, not 16 miles.
2:40 is 160 seconds
1 hour =60 minutes=3600 seconds

Set up the ratio of:

160:1 = 3600: x
Then x would be the number of miles the horse ran in one hour which would be 22.5 miles.

Diana, a math teacher




x


09 Dec 05 - 03:39 PM (#1623827)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: mg

i read something to the effect, either on mudcat or elsewhere, that this really was a song about racing, which was quite a sport and was illegal perhaps??? can't remember the details...but it was socially looked down on....someone remember?


09 Dec 05 - 03:54 PM (#1623835)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: Ferrara

The speed may have been expressed in a standard measure, for instance it could refer to the time to cover some standard distance, such as the length in furlongs of some specific race track (probably an English one)?

I'm sure a racing association would know! -- But you wouldn't want a REALLY fast horse pulling your open sleigh anyway.


10 Dec 05 - 01:33 AM (#1624183)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: CapriUni

can't remember the details...but it was socially looked down on....

I'd always thought that it was a scandelous song because the young man and young woman were riding in the sleigh (at close quarters) without a chaperone.

Around the time that I first heard these other verses, I think I also heard that it was written for a music -- not children. It's a children's song, now. But most people don't know verses 2 - 4.


10 Dec 05 - 08:49 AM (#1624320)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: Snuffy

Im guessing it's not 2:40 but 240

240 seconds = 4 minutes = 15 m.p.h
180 seconds = 3 minutes = 20 m.p.h


10 Dec 05 - 11:25 AM (#1624398)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: Bernard

That makes a lot more sense, Snuffy!


23 Dec 05 - 03:32 PM (#1634035)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: GUEST

From, "American Horses" by Ralph Moody, chapter "The Trotters," pages 91-92:

"What Dutchman (a horse) lacked in beauty and good manners he made up in determination, speed at the trot, and endurance. He reached the peak of his career in 1839, by which time trotting horses were often being raced in harness, sometimes hitched to high-wheeled carts, but more often to racing wagons. Dutchman won his fame by trotting a mile in two minutes and twenty-eight seconds, making him the first horse in the world to break the two-and-a-half-minute barrier."

It seems to me, therefore, that the two-forty DOES refer to two minutes, forty seconds, trotting a mile, which is certainly an excellent time.

Mark Kislingbury


23 Dec 05 - 10:41 PM (#1634323)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: CapriUni

Thanks, Mark! That Dutchman sounds like he was quite a character.


24 Dec 05 - 02:14 AM (#1634364)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: Genie

FWIW, I've always heard the second verse as " ... Whee! We got upsot!" not "... we we got upsot."


02 Jan 06 - 12:25 PM (#1639680)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: Herga Kitty

What was the name of the horse? - this is a quiz question from this year's King's School quiz. "Lean and lank"?

Kitty


03 Jan 06 - 01:11 AM (#1640185)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: open mike

at least it's not 4:20


13 Dec 06 - 11:31 AM (#1908466)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What is the name of the horse?
From: GUEST


18 Dec 06 - 07:32 AM (#1912501)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: GUEST,sousaphone

Thought that perhaps the phrase "two forty for his speed" meant two furlongs in forty seconds, which coincidentally is about 15 miles per hour.
sousaphone


31 Mar 07 - 09:37 PM (#2012973)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: GUEST

Small correction "A Gent was riding by, In a one-horse open sleigh, He laughed as there I sprawling lie, And swiftly drove away"


21 Oct 08 - 03:31 PM (#2472073)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: GUEST,guest

i think it's 42 of what every currency they had for his speed


24 Dec 08 - 01:16 PM (#2523962)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: Charley Noble

We still have a classic horse-drawn sleigh, a four-seater referred to as a "pong," stored in the lower barn at the farm and gathering dust. The last time it hit the road was some time in the 1940's but I still remember being bundled in blankets and my parents and their friends singing as we raced down the road one winter night.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


21 Nov 10 - 11:19 PM (#3037735)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: GUEST,Volomite

It obviously refers to a trotter's mile rate. I believe the song was written in 1850. At that time a trotter capable of covering a mile in 2 minutes and 40 seconds was stepping lively. I believe the current world record is 1:49-3/5 on a one-turn mile racetrack. Lady Suffolk, the "Old Grey Mare" in the song was the first horse to break 2:30 for the mile in the late 1830s or early 1840s.


22 Nov 10 - 02:59 AM (#3037769)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: open mike

how long's a furlong?


22 Nov 10 - 03:16 AM (#3037774)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: GUEST,^&*

One eight of a mile.


22 Nov 10 - 04:59 PM (#3038221)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: Jacob B

Pierpont wrote the song about the sleigh races in Medford, Massachusetts. I understand that those races were run on the straightaway on High Street, going past the inn whose piano Pierpont used to compose the song.


22 Nov 10 - 09:22 PM (#3038379)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means 2:40 for his speed?
From: Genie

Kalleea, the verse you posted is apparently not a very new one - just a bit of a parody modification of the one the DT gives as the 3rd verse.

Original 3rd verse (per the DT):

A day or two ago - The story I must tell -
I went out on the snow and on my back I fell;
A gent was riding by in a one-horse open sleigh;
He laughed at me as I there sprawling laid*
But quickly drove away.


A day or two ago - This story I must tell -
I went out on the snow and on my backside fell;
A jet was flying by; In a one horse open sleigh;
He laughed as there I sprawling lie
and quickly flew away.

It's hard to picture how a jet could be flying by in a sleigh, though. LOL







*This line doesn't sound right to me; it's hard to see how it could scan with the melody. My guess is that either the words "at me" or the word "there" weren't part of the original lyric. I'd also guess that the word should be "lay" (intransitive), not "laid" (transitive).


23 Nov 10 - 01:30 PM (#3038813)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: GUEST,Songbob

My 9th-grade science teacher once put a question into a true-false test that most of the would-be jocks got wrong:

T/F: Dan Patch once ran a mile in 2 minutes, 15 seconds.

I got it right, and could even say, "Yes, and pulling a wagon at the time." Dan Patch was a famous trotting horse in the early 1900s (remember the reference in 'Music Man' about 'putting a saddle on Dan Patch').

So 2:40 is not world-record time, but a pretty good pace for a trotting horse, in any case.

I like the original tune for the song, by the way. I can't reproduce it here, but if you were playing it in the key of C, the 'Jingle all the way' line would be accompanied by a C chord ('Jingle'), an F chord (on 'all'), then an E chord (on 'way'). Then back to F as you finish in the more common tune.

Bob


15 Dec 11 - 12:38 PM (#3274245)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: GUEST,Bottle Tuner

Once again, the Little House books provide us with some social history. When Laura Ingalls and Manzo Wilder were courting, the big winter treat was to run a sleigh down the main street of town after church on a Sunday. The street would be watered on Saturday night so the surface would be freshly frozen and fast.

A trotting horse that could do a measured mile in 2 minutes, 40 seconds was going 22-1/2 mph. A sleigh has less friction than a cart, so it went even faster on the straightaway. Racing up and down in a sleigh was as fast as a normal human could expect to go in those days. For the boys, a chance to show off; for the girls, a thrilling ride.

And the horse has no name; "bob tail" [sic] and "lean and lank" are epithets, not names -- not capitalized in the original sheet music.


15 Dec 11 - 01:05 PM (#3274253)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means240 as his speed
From: GUEST,999

"Jingle Bells lyrics - what does this mean?

Now the ground is white
go it while you're young
take the girls tonight
and sing this sleighing song

Just get a bob-tail nag
Two forty for his speed
then hitch him to an open sleigh and
crack, you'll take the lead.

What does "get a bob-tail nag, Two forty for his speed" mean?

The bobtail part just means the horse's tail is cut is docked, or chopped so it will stay short, which is done in carriage horses to prevent the tail from getting tangled in the carriage or reins.

"Two fourty FOR his speed" may mean a mile in two minutes, forty seconds, which is about 22.5 miles per hour. If you've seen our Horse Speeds in MPH chart, you know that's far faster than the typical horse can trot (and horses pulling carriages, typically trot). This would mean the horse would have to be a Standardbred, a breed bred for harness racing that can trot faster than other horses.

The breed was called the "Standardbred" after 1879, because the horses were allowed to be registered if they could trot a mile at the "standard" speed, which was 2 minutes, 30 seconds. All Standardbred horses today trace their lineage back to Hambletonian 10, a horse born in 1849 that was able to trot very fast and sired over 1,300 foals.

It could also be two-fourty means 240 seconds, which is about 15 mph, or two furlongs in 40 seconds, still about 15 mph -- the pace of a normal horse trotting fast."

From a horse racing site.


17 Nov 12 - 07:51 PM (#3437980)
Subject: RE: Jingle Bells: What means 240 as his speed
From: GUEST

Or, perhaps, Miss Fortune?