Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Let earth receive her King,

Let every heart prepare him room,

And heaven and nature sing.

Southampton born Isaac Watts wrote the words in 1719 based partly on Psalm 98.

The tune was by American composer of over 600 hymns Lowell Mason.

He arranged the beloved Christmas carol Joy To The World, based on a work by George Frideric Handel. However, its lyrics are actually about the resurrection of Christ at Easter.

Mason also wrote the Nearer, My God, To Thee which is said to be the last tune played by the band as the Titanic sank with the loss of many Southampton crew.

At St Mary’s Church, a ring of eight bells, was installed in 1914. Cast at John Taylor's Foundry in Loughborough, they were given by Mary Ann Wingrove in memory of her late husband, Robert.

British lyricist and playwright Douglas Furber and an Australian, Emmet Adams were waiting in Southampton to catch a liner to New York. After hearing the peel of bells they wrote The Bells of St Marys.

Furber is best known for the lyrics to the song The Lambeth Walk.

Daily Echo:

It was covered by numerous artists over the next few decades, most famously, by Bing Crosby. The legendary American crooner actually visited the church during the Second World War. The Bells of St Mary’s film starring Bing Crosby was enormously popular and the highest-grossing movie of 1945 in the USA.

Due to the inclusion of a scene featuring a Christmas pageant, both the film and the song have come to be associated with the Christmas season, although the song refers to the "red leaves" of autumn.

Following the bombing of November 1940, new bells of St Mary’s were recast from the metal of the originals in 1945 and rang again in 1948.

Daily Echo:

Benny Hill’s Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West) was the Christmas No 1 in 1971. The song was written and performed by the Southampton born comedian.

The story line is inspired by Hill's early experience as a milkman for Hann's Dairies. Market Street, mentioned in the lyrics, is in Eastleigh.

The song tells the story of Ernie Price, who drives a horse–drawn milk cart. It relates his feud with the bread delivery man,"Two-Ton Ted '' from Teddington and their efforts to win the heart of Sue, a widow who lives alone at 22, Linley Lane.

Benny himself lived in later life at 22, Westrow Gardens, Southampton.

Daily Echo:

On Desert Island Discs in 2006, Conservative Party leader and later Prime Minister David Cameron picked it as one of his eight favourite records.

Singer-songwriter Jona Lewie was born in 1947 as John Lewis in Southampton. He is best known for his December 1980 UK and international hit Stop the Cavalry.

Jona said: “I had no idea it would be a Christmas hit. It coincided with the death of John Lennon – he was shot on the day Stop The Cavalry was released.”

Lewie said that the song was an anti war protest song.

Daily Echo:

The song's promotional video is set in the trenches of the First World War. The line "Wish I was at home for Christmas" has made it a popular song to play around Christmas time ever since.

This is our second Christmas in the fight against the covid virus.

Back on Christmas Eve, 1940, the Daily Echo captured the mood of the Second World War, and the words seem still appropriate today: “The prelude to the second Christmas of the Second World War has certainly been strange, rather unreal and difficult. If it is less of an occasion for feasting and self-indulgence and more a welcomed opportunity to be self-less, we may count it amongst the happiest days of our lives. Let us then be cheery as we know how; let us determine to make others cheery; let us make it a real Christmas Day.’’