The 9 most commonly misheard Christmas carol lyrics

17 December 2019, 16:50 | Updated: 17 December 2019, 17:19

9 of the most misheard Christmas lyrics
9 of the most misheard Christmas lyrics. Picture: PA

By Rosie Pentreath

‘Joy to the World’, ‘12 Days of Christmas’ and ‘Deck the Halls’ have been found to be among the most misheard Christmas carols – and we can totally relate.

It’s not hard to mishear song lyrics. We’ve all done it. And once they’re stuck, they’re well and truly stuck – especially when it comes to Christmas carols and songs.

We’ve all been there in school assembly, belting out “While shepherd’s washed their socks by night” or “We three kings from Orientar”…

In fact, there’s an enjoyable feeling of nostalgia in remembering what we misremembered. And now somebody’s done research on the subject.

Read more: Quiz – Most people can’t remember the iconic lyrics in this Christmas carols quiz >

The research, which was part of a wider look at the benefits of singing in a choir by Sandra Colston of community choir, Funky Voices, found that ‘Joy to the World’, ‘12 Days of Christmas’ and ‘Deck the Halls’ contain the top three misheard Christmas carol lyrics.

‘Joy to the World’ oddly features nations that are “prudes” and ’12 Days of Christmas’ features four “colly” birds, not “calling” birds (a throwback, incidentally, to the 19th-century lyrics). And there’s a bloke called “John Virgin” in ‘Silent Night’, apparently...

Other Christmas songs with commonly misheard lyrics have been found to be ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘All I want for Christmas’ – see full list below.

Colston’s motto is “sing loud and proud, strong and wrong”, and based on this she researched commonly misheard and mis-sung song lyrics. The resulting list was based on how many mentions the misheard lyrics got, with ‘Joy to the World’ and ‘12 Days’ mentioned the most.

As well as Christmas song blips, the research found that singing provides both mental and physical health benefits, including improving breathing issues, combatting loneliness and lifting your mood.

The 9 most commonly misheard Christmas lyrics

  1. Joy to the World

    • Misquoted lyric: “And makes the nations prudes

    • Correct lyric: “And make the nations prove

  2. 12 Days of Christmas

    • Misheard lyric: “On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, four colly birds”

    • Correct lyric: "On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, four calling birds”

  3. Deck the Halls

    • Misquoted lyric: “Deck the halls with bras of holly”

    • Correct lyric: “Deck the halls with boughs of holly”

  4. All I Want for Christmas

    • Misquoted lyric: “Take back the Harley and mistletoe”

    • Correct lyric: “Take back the holly and mistletoe”

  5. Frosty the Snowman

    • Misquoted lyric: “With a broom stuck in his head

    • Correct lyric: “With a broom stuck in his hand

  6. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

    • Misquoted lyric: “Olive the other reindeer”

    • Correct lyric: “All of the other reindeer”

  7. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

    • Misquoted lyric: “Grandma got run over by a reindeer, walking home from outhouse on Christmas Eve”

    • Correct lyric: “Grandma got run over by a reindeer, walking home from our house on Christmas Eve”

  8. Jingle Bells

    • Misquoted lyric: “Bells on cocktail rings”

    • Correct lyric: “Bells on bobtail rings”

  9. Silent Night

    • Misquoted lyric: “Round John Virgin, mother and child”

    • Correct lyric: “Round yon virgin, mother and child”