John Piersol McCaskey (1837-1937) was born on a farm near Gordonville, Pennsylvania. He attended school at a country schoolhouse, Oak Hill Academy, a school in Lancaster, and the Boy’s High School in Lancaster. He taught at the high school, spent a year learning the printing process at the Evening Express printing office, and was a high school principal for fifty years. He was co-editor of the Pennsylvania School Journal. He received graduate degrees from Franklin & Marshall College and was an advocate of higher education. He also served as the 23rd mayor of Lancaster. His mother loved to sing, and the family’s most important book was the Bible. His father was Presbyterian, his mother was Episcopal, and they attended services at both churches. He became an accomplished amateur musician and on Saturdays went to Philadelphia and New York for concerts and lectures. He wrote many songs and hymns; compiled and published hymnals; and compiled many volumes of songs he regarded important for music education and social engagement. The volumes included works of others and his own arrangements of traditional or anonymous songs. In 1867 he wrote the Christmas song “Jolly Old St. Nicholas,” although some attribute the song to John Pierpont. The Johnny who wants a pair of skates was one son of his who died young. J. P. McCaskey High School in Lancaster is named in his honor.
All are mixed chorus unless noted; some contain divisi.