Well, I'm not that old (am I?) and I got it in about a second! We sung it in my first primary school around this time of year. I even got to be A Donkey (not that specific one, apparently I wasn't important enough, or maybe my parents didn't belong to the right local cliques) in the Nativity Play when I was about 6. Do UK schools even still do those any more?
Just looked it up and found it was originally a popular song in the late 50s. I am indeed not that old! I must say that I had always vaguely assumed it to be a traditional carol. Should have realized it wasn't though, the language, verse structure, and sentiments are all wrong for a song from before the mid 20th century or so.
yes I have it on a record, cant remember if it was a hit by the spring fields or the seekers, Jim Reeves did sing it on one of his Christmas albums. never found it on a 78rpm record. never sung it in school.
Some of the people who attempt to transcribe lyrics on the internet should have their access taken off them. When I searched for the lyrics to see whether I'd remembered them correctly the first result included this:
Ring out those bells tonight
Bethlehem, Bethlehem Gollow that start tonight
I don't understand how that was even possible! Since when is "Gollow" a word?!