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Christmas carols are a great way to bring everyone together during the holidays.
Whether you’re listening in church or watching them on television, these carols have been passed down through generations and will always remind us about what’s most important: family traditions.
Christmas carols vs. Christmas songs
This seems to be the common opinion on what the difference is between the two:
Christmas carols are usually religious in nature, while Christmas songs are seen as secular and have no spiritual or moral messages.
So, in no particular order here are our favorite Christmas carols to listen to over the holiday season.
Do you Hear What I Hear?
“Do You Hear What I Hear?” is a beautiful Christmas carol that has been sung for centuries. The lyrics are very poetic and religious, but the melody is lovely.
Some say it was an ancient Celtic tune with traditional lyrics but this Christmas carol became popular in America around the time of World War II when people yearned for peace on Earth and goodwill to all.
In the video above, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” is sung by a choir at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University.
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen!
“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is a famous Christmas song that can be heard in the film, A Christmas Carol.
“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” is one of the oldest Christmas carols on our list and has been around since sometime in the 16th century.
The video above shows some beautiful Christmas pictures, to the song ‘God rest ye merry gentlemen’ sung by the choirs of Bath and Winchester cathedrals.
12 Days of Christmas
This cumulative song which repeats simple versus is a fun and upbeat carol sung over Christmas. This version of the popular carol is sung by The Ray Conniff Singers.
Joy to the World
By far one of the more joyous and well-known songs, “Joy to the World” is a song that can be found in almost any household at some point during Xmas time.
It has been recognized as being one of the most published hymns ever, so be sure to watch Celtic Woman’s beautiful rendition live at the Helix in Dublin.
O Little Town Of Bethlehem
“O Little Town of Bethlehem” is one of the world’s most beloved Christmas carols. It was written in 1865 by Phillips Brooks. The song has been covered by many artists including Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and Frank Sinatra.
Away in a Manger
The song “Away in a Manger” is about Jesus’s humble birth and the joy it brings to all who celebrate Christmas.
The lyrics of this carol are very sweet and innocent, but they also have a deeper meaning. It talks about how we should be happy for the Baby Jesus because he came to earth with nothing but love for us.
Ding Dong Merrily on High
“Ding Dong Merrily on High” is a Christmas carol from the 14th century of unknown authorship. It has been recorded by many artists over the years.
O Come All Ye Faithful
“O Come, All Ye Faithful” is a beloved Christmas carol that has been around for centuries. It was written by John Frederick Oakeley in England during the early 19th century.
This well-loved carol has become a staple of any holiday celebration!
This song was written by Franz Xaver Gruber in 1818 with lyrics from Joseph Mohr to be sung on Christmas Eve at midnight mass.
The song has since spread around the world with over 300 versions being created in many different languages! Give this Perry Como version a listen!
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is a Christmas carol that has been around since the 18th century. This popular song is one that we’ve undoubtedly heard for many years and can even be found in movies like Elf.
O Holy Night
“O Holy Night” is a song by Adolphe Adam. It has been covered many times, but the most famous version came from Johnny Mathis who made it a hit in 1958.
Mariah Carey covers this classic carol in the video above.
Deck the Halls
“Deck the Halls” is a Christmas carol that has been sung for many years and is one of the most popular. The lyrics were written in 1857 by an unknown author and this song has also been translated into many other languages.
Have a sing-a-long with this classic from Nat King Cole.
We Three Kings of Orient Are
The Christmas carol, “We Three Kings of Orient Are” is one that I remember singing in school when I was little.
The three kings were all named in the song as Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar. They were the first ones to visit the baby Jesus after he was born in Bethlehem. They brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh for him.
Listen to this Christmas carol live by the King’s College Choir.
Good King Wenceslas
“Good King Wenceslas” is a Christmas carol about a benevolent king who was known for his generosity to the poor.
The song’s origins are unclear but it has long been used as an example of good Christian conduct in helping those less fortunate than oneself.
Go Tell It on the Mountain
“Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills, and everywhere! Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born!” So begins one of American’s favorite Christmas carols: “Go Tell It On The Mountain.”
This song continues with lyrics about shepherds and wise men following a star to find baby Jesus.
In the video above, “Go Tell It On The Mountain” is sung live by The Petersens.
More Christmas Inspiration…
For more fantastic Christmas Ideas, take a look at our Big Guide to All Things Christmas.
And, for ways to manage your money this holiday season, check out How to Avoid Overspending During the Holiday Season!
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