I Wonder as I Wander is an enchanting Christmas song composed by composer John Jacob Niles. He worked as an assistant to photographer Doris Ulmann while traveling throughout Appalachia, recording and transcribing various folk songs. He wrote the song’s lyrics and melody after hearing fragments of folk songs and listening to local singers. The song first aired Dec. 19, 1933 in a Murphy theater. In the following year, the full song was published in the book Songs of the Hill Folk.
This hymn was first recorded in the western North Carolina town of Murphy. It was originally written by the American folklorist Annie Morgan. Niles arranged the song and performed it, and he was praised for it. In 1934, he included it in a collection of hill-folk songs, “One Star, at Last.” The album also features modern carols performed by the BBC Singers and Stephen Cleobury. In a contemporary arrangement, Carl Rutti added strings and a vocal section. The choir of Eton College sings the song.
Niles’ version of the song was first recorded in the Western North Carolina (WNC) region. The folklorist was interested in the traditional folk songs of the local people. He composed and performed the song to record in his 1935 Songs of the Hill-Folk. The album features a medley of contemporary carols, such as “I Wonder as I Wander” and “I Wonder as I Walk.” The recording also features the BBC Singers, Stephen Cleobury, the Choir of Eton College, and Carl Rutti, who created a modern arrangement of the piece.
Niles collected the song from evangelist Annie Morgan in July 1933. She repeatedly sung the song to Niles until she had memorized it. The song is included in Niles’ Songs of the Hill-Folk, a collection of traditional and contemporary carols. The recording features the BBC Singers, Stephen Cleobury, and the Eton College Choir.
The song was first recorded in the WNC by a young girl, Annie Morgan. The song was first performed by the BBC Singers in 1934. The English composer John Rutter also recorded the song in WNC and arranged it in an operatic style. The song has a folk idiom that harkens to the old country. Its melodic structure is a familiar one to many.
Originally a folk song, “I wonder as I wander” is the first Christmas carol by John Jacob Niles. The song has a folk-idiom and is an English classic. It is a folk tune, which has a simple, traditional melody. It is a rousing song for the holiday season. It is a favorite of many people.