The Story of... 'I Believe in Father Christmas' by Greg Lake

18 December 2019, 15:09 | Updated: 18 December 2019, 15:16

Greg Lake
Picture: YouTube/Monticore

By Tom Eames

It's one of the most classic Christmas songs of all time, even if you might not know it by name.

Prog rock legend Greg Lake scored a surprise Christmas hit in 1975, and it remains a favourite decades later.

But what inspired the song and what is it all about? Here's all the fascinating facts:

  1. Who was Greg Lake?

    Greg Lake
    Greg Lake. Picture: Getty

    Greg Lake was an English bassist, guitarist, singer-songwriter and producer.

    He was best known as a founding member of the progressive rock bands King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP).

  2. Who wrote 'I Believe in Father Christmas'?

    King Crimson (Greg Lake centre, Peter Sinfield far right)
    King Crimson (Greg Lake centre, Peter Sinfield far right). Picture: Getty

    Greg Lake wrote the music, while Peter Sinfield wrote the lyrics.

    Sinfield was also a founding member of King Crimson, who wrote various hits for other artists including 'The Land of Make Believe' by King Crimson and Celine Dion's 'Think Twice'.

  3. 'I Believe in Father Christmas' meaning: What is it about?

    Although it is often considered a Christmas song, this was not Lake's intention.

    He said he wrote the song as a protest against the commercialisation of Christmas.

    However, Sinfield said that the lyrics are about a loss of innocence and childhood belief.

  4. What is the classical piece of music featured?

    The instrumental riff between the verses comes from the 'Troika' portion of Sergei Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kijé Suite, which was written for the 1934 Soviet film Lieutenant Kijé.

    This was added after Lake's ELP bandmate Keith Emerson suggested it.

  5. How did it perform in the charts?

    The song reached number two in the UK Singles Chart, and was kept from the Christmas number one by Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' in 1975.

    Lake later said: "I got beaten by one of the greatest records ever made. I would’ve been pissed off if I’d been beaten by Cliff.

  6. Where was the video filmed?

    The video was shot on the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, and at the Dead Sea Scrolls caves in the West Bank.

    It also includes footage from the Vietnam War.

  7. Who has covered it?

    The song has been covered by several artists over the years, including:

    - Toyah Wilcox
    - Elaine Paige
    - Sarah Brightman
    - U2
    - Joe McElderry
    - Susan Boyle

  8. I Believe in Father Christmas lyrics:

    They said there'll be snow at Christmas
    They said there'll be peace on Earth
    But instead it just kept on raining
    A veil of tears for the Virgin birth

    I remember one Christmas morning
    A winters light and a distant choir
    And the peal of a bell and that Christmas Tree smell
    AND EYES full of tinsel and fire

    They sold me a dream of Christmas
    They sold me a Silent Night
    And they told me a fairy story
    'Till I believed in the Israelite

    And I believed in Father Christmas
    And I looked to the sky with excited eyes
    'Till I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn
    And I saw him and through his disguise

    I wish you a hopeful Christmas
    I wish you a brave New Year
    All anguish pain and sadness
    Leave your heart and let your road be clear

    They said there'll be snow at Christmas
    They said there'll be peace on Earth
    Hallelujah Noel be it Heaven or Hell
    The Christmas we get we deserve