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I Believe In Father Christmas by Greg Lake

Album: Emerson, Lake And Palmer: Works 2Released: 1975Charted:
95
2
  • Lake says that he does believe in Father Christmas (known in America as Santa Claus), and says of the holiday and his inspiration for the song: "For me as a child, it was the visual image of peace on earth and goodwill toward men. It was the symbol of generosity and feeling good and all those things. And that's what I think Christmas is all about."
  • Lake was the lead singer and guitarist for Emerson, Lake And Palmer. The group rarely released singles, and cracked the UK Top 40 just once, with "Fanfare For The Common Man" in 1977. Like "I Believe In Father Christmas," that song also made it to #2.
  • The part at the end is based on "Lieutenant Kije Suite" by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev. Keith Emerson, who assisted on the track with Lake, Carl Palmer and lyricist Pete Sinfield, came up with the idea to use it. Lake said: "I wrote the original theme and melody for the Christmas song and collaborated with Pete Sinfield writing the lyrics. Keith really took care of the arrangement by adding the Prokofiev and I produced the record adding orchestra and choir."
  • Pete Sinfield, who wrote lyrics for many Emerson, Lake And Palmer songs, helped write this. Lake told Uncut the story of this song in an interview for the January 2011 edition of the magazine: "I wrote it in my house in west London. I'd tuned the bottom string of my guitar from E down to D and got this cascading riff that you hear on the record. But I couldn't really place what the song was about. I was out driving one day and it was playing on my mind, and, all of a sudden, it occurred to me that the tune of 'Jingle Bells' fitted over it. And I thought, 'Ah…I wonder if this could be a song about Christmas! At the same time, I was working with Pete Sinfield on my solo side of the Works album, and I said to Pete, "I've been working on this melodic idea. It could be a Christmas song."

    Sinfield continued the story: "Some of it was based on an actual thing in my life when I was eight-years-old, and came downstairs to see this wonderful Christmas tree that my mother had done. I was that little boy. Then it goes from there into a wider thing about how people are brainwashed into stuff. Then I thought, 'This is getting a bit depressing. I'd better have a hopeful, cheerful verse at the end.' That's the bit where me and Greg would've sat together and done it. And then I twisted the whole thing, with the last line, 'The Christmas you get, you deserve,' which was a play on 'The government you get, you deserve.' I didn't necessarily explain all the politics or the thoughts behind it. It's not anti-religious. It's a humanist thing, I suppose. It's not an atheist Christmas song, as some have said."
  • Lake created the song in August, and was surprised when it started climbing the charts in December. Many people misinterpreted it as an anti-religious song, and he thought it wouldn't go over well as a single.
  • Lake (from Mojo magazine): "I find it appalling when people say it's politically incorrect to talk about Christmas, you've got to talk about 'The Holiday Season.' Christmas was a time of family warmth and love. There was a feeling of forgiveness, acceptance. And I do believe in Father Christmas."
  • In 2008 a cover by U2 was made available exclusively to subscribers of an online Aids charity magazine Red(Wire).
  • A video was shot for this song in some very exotic and very hot locales: the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, and the Dead Sea Scroll caves in the West Bank. Few artists shot conceptual videos at the time (MTV was still 6 years away), but the clip garnered a lot of exposure for the song and helped it move up the UK charts. In our interview with Greg Lake, he explained: "The Christmas song, the essence of it, the beginning of the story is religious, and it goes back to Israel. And that is where we shot the film. Some bright spark came up with the idea of shooting it in the Dead Sea Scroll caves. It sounded good, you know. The idea of that sounded appealing... until I actually had to do it. And it was a most treacherous thing. Now I look back on it, I was mad to do it.

    It involved climbing across this ledge and there was hundreds of feet sheer drop, both sides. And the path across was probably two feet wide. It sounds like a lot, two feet. But when there's a sheer drop of three or four hundred feet each side, two foot becomes very small, and it's very scary. That's what we had to do, we had to cross this ledge to get across to where the caves actually were.

    So I got inside of the Dead Sea Scroll caves. They're tiny little caves the size of a bathroom, really, where the actual scrolls were found in clay jars. And it's hundreds of feet up a cliff. So other than by this ledge, the only way you get to it is to be dangled down on a helicopter or something. The cliffs are very bright white, they must be chalk or some substance, salt, I believe, is what they are, from the Dead Sea. And the sun is so bright. They call it the Sun's Anvil. The guy actually fried an egg - I saw him do it on a rock. Cracked an egg on a rock and it fried. That's how hot it is. Just incredible heat - I could only film maybe 20, 30 seconds of the thing and then I had to duck out. The sun was so, so ferocious.

    And then we went to the desert to film with the Bedouins. That was fascinating, because somebody who had a connection with them arranged to meet them in the middle of the desert. We went out there and were due to meet them at 11:00 in the morning. We drove out to the middle of this desert, to this oasis with palm trees and a small pool of water, a spring of water. You could see in any direction all the way to the horizon. There was nothing but sand dunes as far as the eye could see.

    And so it came to 10:45 and we were waiting, and I was looking all the way across the desert. There were no Bedouins. And I said to the security guy, 'Where are the Bedouins?' He said, 'Don't worry, they'll be here.' I said, 'Yeah, but look, I can see right to the horizon, and there are no Bedouins. How do you think they're going to get from the horizon to here in 15 minutes?' He said, 'What you don't know is that the Bedouins don't walk over sand dunes. They walk in between the hills, so you never see them. They're always in the dips of the sand dunes until they get within maybe 100 yards of you, and then you see them. Because they walk in between, they never go over a sand dune. It's too much effort, you see.'

    Eventually they turned up. Most beautiful looking people: pearl white teeth, these dark oak suntans, incredible looking people. We sat round and they filmed them, I played the guitar and they listened happily. It was an amazing thing."
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Comments: 60

WOwwwwwwwwwwwww what an interesting discussion about this simple little song ! perhaps a bit of history and some facts might help you all get it in perspective, when Greg was growing up it was at a time when families were rebuilding after the war, so where he lived most of the houses contained young families and there were lots of kids about, so Christmas WAS a big deal, he was also close to his mum and dad, kids went door to door carol singing around the neighbours and were often given money, nuts, oranges etc, it did feel a very special time because of the austerity the rest of the year, also he lived directly opposite a small wood full of pine trees in a Prefab ( a square English building made from asbestos as 'temporary war accommodation' ) everyone had an open fire where wood, fircones (nice pine smells) or coal was burnt in the winter and the Christmas tree would likely have come from the same wood. A further endorsement of Christmas in those formative years was a big Snow freeze in England in 1962/63 that lasted from December until Spring so to the kids Christmas never seemed to end. There was also lots of Christmas activities in school then with each individual class having it's own Christmas party. At the time of the record Commercialism and Anti-Commercialism was not a widely held concept and if I remember rightly Greg was driving a Rolls Royce dressed head to toe in a Silver fox fur coat and before playing on stage would take off his shoes put on slippers and step onto a reputedly 15K Persian Rug !! As for the song itself it was initially just a little humorous parody (the most accurate comment above is Eric's New Glasgow CanadaKeith - London, United Kingdom
What I find funny...and, kind of sad, really, is how many people seem to think this song is a denigration of Christmas in general, or that because of the way he wrote it, Greg Lake must not believe in God. Actually, it's pretty clear to me that he's attacking the way television and department stores have perverted the original message of "Christ's Mass", the celebration honoring the Birth of Jesus Christ.
As I describe in my blog, that's not the only thing wrong with Christmas...or the organized Church.
Maye the real lesson of "I Believe in Father Christmas" isn't that it's been perverted by Commercial interests; but that there is so little left in Christmas that resembles what it was created for, that most of us have never even heard the true message of this special celebration the first place.
Sassman - Spokane, Wa
It is also really funny to me how many people presume to speak for Greg Lake, or anyone else. If you guys really want to know his intention behind this song, you all should ask HIM. lolLianna - Sylva, Nc
This is a great song, even if it does amply demonstrate that of course, Christianity is modeled after other great religious traditions that came before it, such as ancient Egyptian religion, Mithraism, etc. Jesus story is seen again and again in many traditions and Gods that came before Him, there is nothing original about it, except for the arrogant claim that Christianity is the only true religion, Yahweh is the only "real" God, and we are all doomed without the "salvation" offered through Yeshua. A little more study and a little less zealotry would prove that to anyone. And, Greg Lake is a very intelligent man. :o) Hence, the song. I would refer people to two more songs: Goddamned, by Jay Brannan, and Santa Claus is Pagan Too by Emerald Rose. Merry Yuletide, everyone! Love Lianna liannacostantino@yahoo.comLianna - Sylva, Nc
To Robert .... It could be the way that Lake wrote the lyric. I always interrpreted this as he was told about Jesus until he made the decision to truely believe in Him. He believes in the act of giving gifts (as the Wise Men did to the baby Jesus), which Father Christmas represents. Lake wrote this due to his concern about the commercialism of Christmas.Tim - Indianapolis, In
The song is often misinterpreted as an anti-religious song and, because of this, Lake was surprised at its success. As he stated in a Mojo magazine interview:
"I find it appalling when people say it's politically incorrect to talk about Christmas, you've got to talk about 'The Holiday Season'. Christmas was a time of family warmth and love. There was a feeling of forgiveness, acceptance. And I do believe in Father Christmas."
Tim - Indianapolis, In
ho ho ho......Merry Christmas, Mr Lake is certainly a very 'Lucky Man' and must look foward to hearing his annual cash cow being played, but the truth is none of you get the joke, ' a xmas pop song from a serious prog rock band of the 70's ?... think about it......the sarcasm in the song protects their street cred' very important to bands at the time, I laugh everytime I hear it even after all these years... I suspect Mr Lake does too and never imagined he would be remembered for a xmas songKeith - London, United Kingdom
Don't You... forget about.. the music (the two support and compliment each other). As intended......you get the meaning you deserve. seaSea - Atlanta, Ga
The commercial world makes a fairy story out of Christmas, starting with Santa and the flying sleigh, but also the sanitary presentation of the Nativity that we're all served up. These were poor kids (some say Mary may have been only thirteen at the time), they walked to Bethlehem, they got shoved into a barn to give birth. We forget about the dirt and the smell and the cold and the fact that Herod was standing by to kill the babe as soon as he could be identified. Never mind the "White Christmas" crap, where there are no footsteps in the snow, no homeless people dying in the cold, no muddy slush to deal with. The truth of Christmas is that it makes better humans of all of us, it changes us. Look at "A Christmas Carol" and what it did for Scrooge. But in the process we dress it up in a very unreal way. This song is masterful for pushing us to see past the plastic front and to see that Christmas is a call to love and a chance to delight "with eyes full of tinsel and fire".

The video was shot in the Sinai Desert, in Israel. They "extras" are Bedoins, but it's in Israel, where it all started.

There is nothing sacrilegious about "XMas", it's been written that way since very early times. It's replacing Christ with a cross. You'll see the X standing in for Christ in a great many liturgical symbols, notably the "Chi Rho" symbol for Christ himself, which is an X superimposed on what looks like a P.

Van
Van - Freeland, Wa
This is the first time I'm reading that this song does NOT denigrate Jesus Christ. I've never been the same fan of ELP since iyts release, so I am happy to hear this interpretation; however, I wish it were true. THe reason I feel this way is because ELP released a song on the TArkus album, presumably with lyrics written by GReg Lake, called THE ONLY WAY, which casts doubt on the existence of God

Here are the Lyrics:


People has stirred moved by the word.
Kneel at the shrine, deceived by the wine.
How was the earth conceived? infinite space.
Is there such a place? you must believe in the human race.

Can you believe, God makes you breathe.
Why did he lose six million jews.

Touched by the wings, fears angel brings
Sad winter storm, grey autumn dawn
Who looks on life itself, who lights your way?
Only you can say. how can you just obey?
His the only way.

Don't heed the word, now that you've heard.
Don't be afraid: man is man made.
And when the hour comes, don't turn the away.
Face the light of day. and do it your away.
Its the only way.
Greg - Katonah, Ny
Actually, Lake is talking about the early destruction of innocence here. We start as a child with simple innocent beliefs and instead of leaving this we as parents, try and bend the child's thinking to what we conventionally believe.
Kids grow up too soon these days, much childhood is lost.
It is clearly told from the perspective of a child, so should be read in that way. It is in the first person and may reflect Lake's own childhood.
Peter - Virden, Mb
Heard this song today in grocery store and had a lump in my throat...always brings me back to a different time in my life but it's all good. It is NOT anti-Christmas at all, quite the contrary. Too bad you don't hear it that often...Janet - Brooklyn, Ny
The beauty of this song lies in the fact that it can be interpreted by an atheist or a believer - in the same way, but from opposite directions. Think about it. This is pure genius.Keith - Seattle, Wa
*** I don't think Greg was calling Jesus a fairy story.I feel he meant his parents fed him a fairy story until he believed in Jesus & realized the true meaning of Christmas.I personally love this song. ***

Well, you can personally believe whatever you like, but that's clearly a brain-dead interpretation. The lyric is "And they sold me a fairy story until I believed in the Isrealite." They lyrics are carefully constructed (not by Greg Lake by the way, but by his lyricist). If he'd meant what you clearly want him to mean it would have been something more like "until I STARTED to believe in the Isrealite." Obviously that doesn't fit, but it's also obvious that your interpretation is a stretch and a half.
Mark - Atlanta, Ga
I almost forgot. To all of you "EDUCATED" people who want to say the virgin birth of Jesus Christ was taken directly from mithras, this is not the case. As far as That "theory" goes, it is in direct contradiction to the traditional understanding of Mithras' birth. All of you self-proclaimed "EDUCATED" people please keep reading. Mithras was born as an adult from solid rock, "wearing his Phrygian cap, issues forth from the rocky mass. As yet only his bare torso is visible. In each hand he raises aloft a lighted torch and, as an unusual detail, red flames shoot out all around him from the petra genetrix. David Ulansey speculates that this was a belief derived from the Perseus' myths which held he was born from an underground cavern. I just don't understand how somebody can choose to be or not to be a believer of something without fully exploring it.Troy - Kansas City, Mo
For those of you that find this song anti-christian based on the "fairy story" portion of the song, think about it. Kids who believe in Santa Clause(the fairy story) eventually abandon that for Jesus Christ as they get older. At least that was the way I grew up. I acknowledged "Baby Jesus" but it was alot more about Santa until I got just a little bit older. In the verse we're talking about, Greg Lake is being chronological. First came Santa then Jesus as he became more mature with age. This is exactly what one of the videos to this song reflected, which would not have been allowed by Greg Lake if this weren't his beliefs as well. If you disagree, fine. Show me in writing or audio where he denounces Christ?Troy - Kansas City, Mo
I agree that this is, probably, the best Christmas song ever. It brings me to tears and stops me in my tracks every season. I have heard it only a few times in my life and last year I just had to find out the name and all. I did forget the name and thank God for the internet. Now I will play and sing it for myself. I hope people can handle it. It sounds like it is very old. This must be because of the old Russian song they used to make it. Thank you all and Merry Christmas. Printing now.David - Durham, Ct
I like how he plainly spells out that there's no difference between santa claus and jesus - just a bunch of fairy tales aimed at entertaining and controlling (you better not cry/sin! I'm telling you why!).

However, he spells out that he DOES believe in the goodness of mankind. Enough of commercialism, kids fairy tales and adult ones - "let your road be clear".
Jimmy - New York, Ny
What you have here is a spiritual awakening. For the most part, Father Christmas/Santa Claus is what the majority of children focus on.
The protagonist of this song is shedding the childhood vision of Christmas - the secular Father Christmas figure, for the 'adult' realization the the birth of Jesus is the meaning and cause for celebration of Christmas.
I find this song especially moving, as many like myself struggle each Sunday in the pew, trying to grasp Jesus as easily as we grasped Santa Claus as children.
Rich - Corning, Ny
I've enjoyed this Christmas song since I first heard it on the radio way back when. If I was lucky, I'd hear it on my local classic rock station a few times during the season. Made my day when I found it on iTunes and downloaded it. I think the wonderful thing about it is that each person comes away with an interpretation based on their outlook on Christmas and what it means to them. There is profound wisdom in the last two lines; "Hallelulah Noel, be it Heaven or Hell, the Christmas we get we deserve.Steven - Johnstown, Ny
Ekristheh wrote:
here are three versions of this. The original version was released as a single in 1975 by Greg Lake. It's the one with the choir and the huge impressive orchestration. The Works II version (1977) is the one that ends with the piano chords and received a lot of airplay at the time. The 1994 "Return of Mantichore" version is softer and has different background vocals. As far as the anti-Christian charge, pay attention to John from Durango. Most of what we think is TRVTH about Jesus is actually a "fairy-story" built around him by the Holy Roman Empire. The legend of the birth of Jesus (in a stable, of a virgin mother, heralded by a star) is the same as the story of Mithra, a Persian deity whose religion was a serious rival to Christianity in former times. (Mithra also had a 'last supper', and followers commemorated his life with a communion of bread and wine.) People have to discern between these folktales and the message of Christ.
- Ekristheh,
************************************************
Thank you for clearing so many misconceptions, and downright lack of information Ekristheh!

This is the only Christmas song which has echoed
my own feelings and touches me to tears every
year....and isn't art supposed to make you think,
touch you deep down inside, and as a bonus, as in this song... be unspeakably beautiful?

Mimi
Mimi - Tacoma (sadly), Wa
my favorite christmas song ever!and i dont care how controversial or misunderstood it is by some fundalmental wacos!Wes - Sherwood, Ar
Irrespective of what anyone says it just isnt christmas without hearing this songDavid - Newcastle, England
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.

-Reflecting on the promise of Christmas -


I remember one Christmas morning,
The Winter's light and a distant choir,
And the peal of a bell and that Christmas tree smell,
And eyes full of tinsel and fire.


-Reflecting on the beauty of Christmas -


They sold me a dream of Christmas,
They sold me a silent night,
They told me a fairy story,
'Til I believed in the Israelite.

-Here is where the fantasy of believing
in â??Santaâ? turns into the faith in Jesus and the â??true meaningâ? Christmas.-

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

-This is the realization that Christmas is not about receiving it is about giving.-

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.

-This is the true promise of Christmas.-

They said there'd be snow at Christmas,
They said there'd be peace on earth,
Hallelujah! Noel!, be it Heaven or Hell,
The Christmas we get, we deserve.

-This is a warning concerning the Golden rule.

It is a beautiful song full of love and promise. Enjoy it.
Apqpqcmgr - Kalamazoo, Mi
I don't think it's about his father being dressed as Father Christmas as someone above suggested as he says 'I looked to the sky with excited eyes'. I also don't think it's anti religous, that's just the atheists wanting it to be. Greg Lake said in an interview he hates it when people spell it xmas as they show disrespect removing 'christ' from Christmas so he's not anti religous. It's about over-commercilism of Christmas as he's always stated. As for the line 'I saw him and through his disguise', I've always interpreted this as him seeing Father Christmas as the power and love created by Christmas which ties in with his interview statement that he 'DOES believe in Father Christmas. It's interesting that he noticed the over commercialism of Christmas back in 1975. It's even worse now. I wonder what he thinks of it now.
It's without doubt my favourite Christmas song. Maybe I had a good Christmas that year (1975). They don't play it much at Christmas, they (radio) seem to favour all the Cliff Richards rubbish. Pity.
Glyn - Derbyshire, England
I don't think this song is anti-religious or anti-Christmas. As stated above, it's about the commercialization of Christmas. If you read the lyrics, it?s about losing innocence. ?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?. It?s about feeling duped, being fed a lie, and the sadness felt when such a wonderful lie is gone. When you get older, Christmas isn?t as exciting, or as wonderful as it was when you were a kid. I think this song is about mourning the loss of that excitement and wonder, and ?seeing through {Santa?s} disguise?. Sometimes you cannot go back to the lie, no matter how much you want to.Eric - New Glasgow, Canada
Any EDUCATED and open-minded person knows that the story of the "birth of jesus" was taken DIRECTLY from the myth of the birth of the Roman God MITHRAS, who was born to humble beginnings...shepherds were guarding their flocks when a heavenly being told them to visit the baby...wise men (three) brought gifts...and the date this was celebrated, for HUNDREDS OF YEARS before "christianity", was DECEMBER 25. That date, and those stories, were adopted into christianity simply to "draw" more people into it. It is sad that "educated" people believe that hype, when the bible is based on myths and legends that persisted LONG BEFORE "christianity".Kimme - Norwich, England
" I woke up at dawn and I saw him and through his disguise" He caught his own father putting up the gifts. One does not understand the meaning of Christmas until you grow up and have to be "Father Christmas" or Santa for your kids, or you sacrifice for them, instead of being selfish.So what is more Christian than that. This song always makes me cry, because I remember the hard times and having no money for gifts, but always somehow getting money and making it. I always told my kids, if you don't believe in Santa, he won't visit. I still believe, too.Rafael - Matamoros, Mexico
I don't think Greg was calling Jesus a fairy story.I feel he meant his parents fed him a fairy story until he believed in Jesus & realized the true meaning of Christmas.I personally love this song. Roxee - Lakeland, Tx
I have always loved this song, having been born in Gloucester U.K and then while i was young moved to Florida U.S.A and now i live in Sydney Australia this song reminds me of the Christmas's in England which were very happy times. This was my Mum's favourite Christmas song so we heard it a lot!! Anyway i love the line at the end about getting the Christmas you deserve. I truly hope that everyone gets the Christmas that they deserve!Adrienne Mcmeeken - Sydney , Australia
Forget the religious aspect of it and simply enjoy it for what its worth.Every time I hear it it gives me goose bumps.One of the finest xmas tunes that is out there.Though I think the best is Billy Squiers(b side of My kinda lover)Christmas is the time to say I love you.Now that is what I call a rockin' seasonal tune.John - Jasper, Canada
I am sure that Mr. Lake is not a fundamentalist christian, and does not realize that your religion is the One True Religion, Steve.Liquid Len - Ottawa, Canada
great seasonal song which ironically had it's video shot in a arabian desertJeff - Liverpool, England
From what I have read in regard to the lyrics to this song--words spoken by Mr. Lake himself during interviews-- it appears to me that he has a hard time acknowledging that the meaning of Christmas is the birth of of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and so,never does he mention this in any of the interviews. Just once, I would like for someone to ask him if this song is anti Christian, and point out what he is saying in reference to "a fairy story" and other parts of the song. Until then, people are going to be scrataching their heads in wonderment.

Without Christ, there can be no "Christmas", for the very meaning of the word is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Anyone who doesn't accept that is in total denial.

The only real beauty to this tune, to me, is the beautifaul adaptation of Prokoieff's Leutenant Keije Suite piece titled "Troika".
The choir, the heavy brass, the timpani and snare drum all bring this piece to new heights.
The first time I heard it was the week of Christmas, 1975, when the film debuted on TV's "The Midnight Special". I cried like a baby because the music at the end really touched me.

Too bad I just can't trust those lyrics.
Steve - Mansfield, Oh
Covered well by Honeymoon Suite in the 80's.Paul - Rothesay, New Brunswick , Canada
Oh, I will agree with you that the dating of Christmas was indeed related to the Sun festival. Like other little borrowings (wedding rings, holy water?), it has nothing to do with the Bible or Christianity's truth. It's the idea that the whole birth of Jesus Christ was stolen from Pagan myths that I find ridiculous.Ryan - Marion, Ia
I read that Christian thinktank website - long article, but it does not seem to address historical facts in any detail. I prefer actual history, thank you. I too believe in God but I also think learning real science, history, logic, math, are GOOD things, and a lot of misery in the world is caused by needless ignorance.

http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9082431/Christmas
http://www.religioustolerance.org/xmas_sel.htm

John may have worded it harshly, but he simply hit the nail on the head and identified the real meaning of the lyrics, just read them, it's there for all to see. Modern poetry, and like much poetry, with a sting.
Liquid Len - Ottawa, Canada
Len, I agree that this isn't the place for a debate about religion (and I'm hardly knowledgeable enough to be someone you'd want to have that with). There are some good sources out there that can give you the Christian side of this, so all I'm gonna say is that I'd recommend checking them out before immediately dismissing Christians as copycats of Paganism. In particular, this essay includes the Christmas copycat idea:
http://www.christian-thinktank.com/copycat.html
Ryan - Marion, Ia
Am I the only person who takes note of the images of war and fighting in the video, and thus interpret it as comparing the obliviousness of the majority of the world who celebrate christmas to the fact its a representation of there being 'peace on earth' which is false? That the world is not as happy and cheerful as christmas makes it out to be, and given that christmas is the ultimate representation for said happiness and peace and harmony, that its a good way to talk about the overall ignorance of people about what is actually going on in the world?

Maybe I'm wrong but I've never seen this as anti-christmas or anti-religious. The ideas behind what jesus wanted and what christmas represents or should represent, are not really happening. Hes just saying, the world really isn't all as happy as christmas might have us believe.
Noll - Cork, Ireland
Sorry if John from Durango frightens you, Ryan, but he's telling the truth. That many pagan myths associated with the winter solstice are incorporated into today's Christmas celebration is hardly controversial, but would be properly left to a whole other webpage. Don't rudely call other people's information 'a load of crap' till you've graduated from high school, gone to college, and learned a little bit about the world. Penny's 'explanation' would be better termed 'cognitive dissonance reduction'.Liquid Len - Ottawa, Canada
I also agree with Ian; no matter how the fairy tale and Israelite part was intended, the last line is the one that really carries the song's message.Ryan - Marion, Ia
John from Durango, that's a load of crap. There have been too many times when Pagan traditions have been compared to Christian ones when they really have little in common (oh, a Pagan ritual uses water! That must be where Christians got babtism!). Many of these traditions have little or no evidence that they actually existed. Furthermore, many concepts in the New Testament can be clearly traced back to the Old Testament, eliminating the possibility that they were influenced by Pagan beliefs.

And how on earth does Christianity have nothing to do with Christ??

As for the line about the fairy story and the Israelite I think Penny's explanation makes more sense than the others. They told him a fairy story until he believed in the Israelite, meaning he was told a fake story involving Santa Clause until he learned the real one about Jesus.
Ryan - Marion, Ia
I agree with Don from Edmonton. (You're welcome, Don!) I get what he's saying about "they told me a fairy story 'til I believed in the Israelite. What kid doesn't believe in Santa Claus (or Father Christmas?) I did. And so until I was old enough to grasp the concept of the birth of Jesus Christ and what that REALLY means for man kind, Christmas was a fairy story. Santa Claus doesn't exist. (Sorry to the parents whose Santa-believing-ag echildren may see this!) Jesus DOES exist. I think what Greg Lake is saying is that he believed in Father Christmas, like any normal kid, until he began believing in Jesus Christ as the REAL meaning of Christmas.

THAT'S MY STORY AND I'M STICKING TOIT!
Penny - Somerset, Pa
One of the few Christmas pop songs that I must listen to (along with Merry Xmas War is Over by John Lennon) during the Holiday season.Tom - Dearborn Heights, Mi
Everyone makes way too much out of the stand out lyric of the fairy tale. The most important lyric is the final one. We all get the Christmas we deserve. It is a pro Christmas song and one message the American people who welcome the comercialism of every holiday should know all to well.Ian - Gaylord, Mi
Hey im a Christian to the max and I love this tune cept the part about believing the isralite child fairy story part....Paul Hughes, Hamilton, Canada

I thought the same thing when I first heard it.I loved it then and I love it now.I also don't believe that the lyrics are anti-Christian either.When I had a good look at the lyrics I noticed that they said "They told me a fairy story,'Til I believed in the Israelite." Notice the interjection if the phrase "'Til I believed..." after the fairy story part.It doesn't sound anti-Christian to me.I think that the reference to the fairy story is about Santa Claus and the elves.The part about"They sold me a silent night" is about how a religious holiday gets commercialized.I don't think it would have been a wise business decision for Emerson,Lake and Palmer to release a Christmas song with an anti-Christian message in it.They'd lose quite a few listeners.Besides even Christians admit that it's a very nice song.That's my 2-bits
Don - Edmonton, Canada
There are three versions of this. The original version was released as a single in 1975 by Greg Lake. It's the one with the choir and the huge impressive orchestration. The Works II version (1977) is the one that ends with the piano chords and received a lot of airplay at the time. The 1994 "Return of Mantichore" version is softer and has different background vocals. As far as the anti-Christian charge, pay attention to John from Durango. Most of what we think is TRVTH about Jesus is actually a "fairy-story" built around him by the Holy Roman Empire. The legend of the birth of Jesus (in a stable, of a virgin mother, heralded by a star) is the same as the story of Mithra, a Persian deity whose religion was a serious rival to Christianity in former times. (Mithra also had a 'last supper', and followers commemorated his life with a communion of bread and wine.) People have to discern between these folktales and the message of Christ.Ekristheh - Halath, United States
This also appears on another compilation. I think it's called the Best of Emerson Lake & Palmer [Rino]. I'll have to check again.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
I believe there are 2 versions of this song. One released under Greg Lake's name; the other recorded as ELP. They are quite different with the Greg Lake version being superior.Don - Newmarket, Canada
Even though this is not technically an ELP song, it does appear on the ELP "Atlantic Years" compilation.Joshua - Twin Cities, Mn
Hey im a Christian to the max and I love this tune cept the part about believing the isralite child fairy story part.... rats if it wasn't for that I could enjoy it a lot more.... I could pretend it means something else... but thats too much work... I like to let some tunes take me somewere but I'm not sure I want to go were Keith is going.... does it sound like hes a little bitter? a little disapointed? Shame is a excellent tunePaul Hughes - Hamilton, Canada
I love this song, and particularly the piece of Prokofiev shoe-horned into it. But I cannot sit idle while false accusations are raised against it, so this is for all the hardcore Christians who think it's Anti-Christmas {and I have to mention that I only seem to see this strength of feeling from Americans for some reason which is ironic given their nation's level of responsibility for the commercialisation of just about every religious festival!}.

1. Have you never considered that the phrases don't spell out Greg Lake's religious philosophy in great depth because they need to fit in time with the music?

2. The Bible does not have to be taken literally in order for the teachings and guidance within it to be meaningful - I have a fairly strong faith but I do not believe Noah was as old as it says or that Jesus ACTUALLY fed 5,000 people. That's my own view - but it does not make me Anti-Christian.
Richard - Shropshire, England
It a good song, and it hits home to those who have lost the true meaning of Christmas. It is NOT an anti Christmas song. When I first heard it thirty something years ago I was alone and depressed in my tiny flat in Manchester, England. It really gave me hope that if I 'believed' in just something then I could get through the toughest of times. I now live happily in Athens, GA, and play this every year to remember where I came from and how it helped me get over my sorry life.Gina - Athens, Ga
This is an "Anti-Christian" song that mocks the birth of Jesus Christ as being a fairy tale story.Robert - Snellville, Ga
For the record

Q: There is a riff in "I Believe in Father Christmas" based of Prokofiev's 'Lieutenant Kije Suite'. Although this was originally released as a Greg Lake solo single, it sounds very much like an arrangement you had a hand in. Were you involved in any earlier takes, etc. that led to the inclusion of that in 'I Believe in Father Christmas'? And, if so, can you tell any stories about how adapting it into that song came about?

Emo: Originally used in an improvisation in the middle of Brubeck's ?Rondo? during a live NICE orchestral concert at London's Fairfield Hall 1969. A recording is available on Sanctuary Records. And, yes, it was my suggestion to embellish Greg Lake's, ?I Believe In Father Christmas? with Prokofiev's motif on which I played.

http://www.keithemerson.com/AskEmo/AskEmo.html
John - Durango, Co
Actually Keith Emmerson assisted in the production, and this is not an Anti Christmas song it is an anti Dogma song. One that speaks to the lies of christisanity. If anyone knows their His-story it is a well known fact that the church stole many Pagan concepts and holidays to win the Pagans over to the Church. If you doubt this read up on the Pagan goddess Bridgit and her role in the winter solstice. It is also a well known fact that Christ actually has nothing to do with the Christianity of the present. I feel that Lake is expressing the difference between the true meaning of Christmas and the dogmatic lie that it has become "the Christmas we get we deserve". Too often people will defend Christianity with out realizing the half cocked truth it has become. I believe in Father Christmas is a testament to a true belief as opposed to a hypocritic one. As he said "I do believe in Father Christmas" and I also do. This song has become a timeless expression of a feeling I think many of us have.John - Durango, Co
To some, the birth of Jesus is a "Fairy-Story" so Lake is fully justified in picking up on this fact. It could be seen however to be saying that "they" told him about Father Christmas, and he believed whole heartedly in what turned out to be a fictional character, leading to his lack of belief in other Christmas figures, like Jesus, in case it turns out that they do not exist either.Bryony - Near Brighton
I've always enjoyed this song around the holidays.Dee - Indianapolis, In
This sure sounds like an "anti-Christmas" song to me...

"They told me a fairy story,
'Til I believed in the Israelite."

As if the birth of Jesus is only a "fairy story?"
Robert - Snellville, Ga
Actually Keith Emerson had nothing to do with the writing or music selected in the making of this song.Linda - Nyc, Ny