Composed for orchestra, Sleigh Ride was completed on February 10, 1948. It is exactly 3 minutes long. It was first performed on May 4, 1948 as an extra by the Boston Pops, with Arthur Fiedler conducting. Lyrics were added by Mitchell Parish in 1950. Sleigh Ride was first recorded on April 25, 1949 in analog mono sound by Arthur Fiedler conducting the Boston Pops. It was first recorded by the composer on September 11, 1950, in analog mono sound. It was re-recorded in analog stereo sound by the composer on May 26, 1959.
Composer quotes: "Sleigh Ride" was one of the first things I wrote when I got out of the Army and moved up here to Wood bury, Connecticut. Actually, I first came here in 1946; you may remember there was a housing shortage then, and my mother-in-law was living up here, had a cottage that was vacant, so since we had no other place to go, we packed our 14-month old daughter, plus the upright piano, and came on up here to Wood bury, and during that first summer that we were here, I started "Fiddle Faddle", I didn't finish that until the following winter, and "Sleigh Ride" and "Serenata". And "Sleigh Ride", I remember, was just an idea because, it was just a pictorial thing, it wasn't necessarily Christmas music, and it was written during the heat wave."
Click to hear the composer explain how he wrote "Sleigh Ride"