In the 1800s, a special young man came to our village of New Paris, Ohio. He was tall, dark and handsome and had a charming personality. He was especially liked by the children. His name was Benjamin Russell Hanby.
He was a minister of the gospel and very musical. He tried to introduce musical instruments into his church but some of his members fought against him. It was 1864, and this was a very new concept for the locals. The dissension within Ben’s church was such that he feared a division in his congregation, so to avoid that, he resigned his position.
He rented a small store room at the south edge of the village and opened a singing school for the children.
At Christmas time in 1864, Ben, who was a prolific song writer, gave a gift to the children of New Paris by writing a song for them. It was originally entitled “Santa Claus” but was later changed to the familiar world-famous “Up on the House Top”.
The song was first publicly introduced and performed in nearby Richmond, Indiana at a benefit dinner for poor children at Christmas in 1864. Almost every child in this small of New Paris, Ohio has been taught this special Christmas song early in their school life, complete with actions. As this is a unique part of our Christmas heritage, we hope you will enjoy your very own beautiful hand-crafted “Up on the House Top” music box.