Holidays: Top Ten Christmas Carols and Their History

Christmas Carols and Stained GlassFor millennia, people have celebrated the Winter Solstice, and Christians have celebrated the coming of their King by singing Christmas songs. Born on the plains in a stable in Bethlehem, God came down in the most vulnerable form possible: a babe. This was so remarkable and unexpected that God’s own chosen had not grasped it.

Yet God came down and a host of angels with Him, and they appeared to the lowliest, the shepherds alone in the fields. This fact is so unimaginable that since this time songs have been written about the event. And so it has passed down through the generations to sing these Christmas carols.

One of the best things about a month-long build up to Christmas is the festive music and carols. Here is what I think are the top ten Christmas songs of traditional nature starting from number ten:

Christmas Carol History

10– Away in a Manger – 

The first two verses were first published in1885, in Philadelphia at an Evangelical church. For a long time it has been one of people’s choice.

9– O Little Town of Bethlehem –

Also written in Philadelphia a couple of decades before Away in the Manger, this Christmas song was performed in a local Episcopal church. Inspired by his visit to Bethlehem, Phillips Brooks wrote this as a poem a couple of years later in 1867, which later became this song.

8- Silent Night – 

The lyrics of this carol were written in 1816 by Josef Mohr. Two years later Franz X. Gruber composed the music. Both were Austrians. The song was introduced at Christmas in 1818. 

7- Joy to the World – 

Written by Isaac Watts in 1719, this song has been published more than any other Christmas carol. Watts derived the lyrics from Psalm 98 with the idea of Christ’s return rather than Christmas. In 1839 Lowell Mason put a melody to it.

6- I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day – 

This song was also composed as a poem by one of America’s great poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The lyrics were written on Christmas in 1864 and it was titled, Christmas Bells.

Watch this space for Part 2

By Jori Sams

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