Christmas Hymns, Carols and Songs

1500s "God Rest you merry, Gentlemen" earliest known printed edition in a broadsheet dated to c. 1760. lyrics

1500s "First Noel" Cornish traditional first published in 1833 by William Sandys England.
Note Noel is the French word for Christmas Day from Latin Natalis, celebrating His birth, introduced into English c.1300. lyrics

1703 "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks" Nahum Tate 1652-1715 Dublin. lyrics

1719 "Joy to the World" Isaac Watts 1674-1748 Hampshire. lyrics

1739 "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" Charles Wesley 1707-1788 England. lyrics


1841 "O Come all ye faithful" translated into English by Frederick Oakley 1802-1880 in London from the earlier Latin hymn "Adeste Fideles" accredited to Catholic hymnist John Francis Wade 1711-1786 England but may be older. lyrics

1848 "Once in Royal David's City" Cecil Frances Alexander (lady) 1818-1895 Dublin who also wrote "All things bright and Beautiful" and "There is a Green Hill". lyrics

1853 "Good King Wenceslas" John Mason Neale 1818-1866 London. lyrics

1855 "O Holy Night" lyrics composed by John Sullivan Dwight 1813-1893 Boston USA from the music of "Minuit Chretien" (Midnight, Christians) a French carol. The French lyrics were composed in 1843 by Placide Cappeau and put to music by Adolphe Adam in 1847.
Recorded in 1975 by Maranatha Music on the Children of the Day's Christmas Album, also by Mariah Carey in 1994. lyrics

1859 "Silent Night" (German: "Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht") was composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria. In 1859 it was translated to English by John F. Young 1820-1885 Maine U.S.A.
Became a big hit for Bing Crosby in a recording in 1935 with 10 million copies sold. Led to his biggest hit in 1942 "White Christmas". lyrics

"Away in a Manger" ca. 1882, melody written 1895 by William James Kirkpatrick 1838-1921, lead organist at Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadephia, Pennsylvania. The words were attributed to Martin Luther as "Luther's Cradle Song", however, the carol is now thought to be wholly American in origin. No German text for the carol has been found from earlier than 1934, and apparently a translation from the English original. lyrics


Other US secular Christmas songs "One Horse Open Sleigh" 1857 had a name change to Jingle Bells in 1859.

Santa Claus is coming to town 1934

Winter Wonderland 1934

Carol of the Bells 1936 with English lyrics from a Ukrainian song first performed by students at Kiev University in December 1916. lyrics

Have yourself a Merry little Christmas 1944 first sung by Judy Garland in "Meet me in St Louis". lyrics

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1949 written by Johnny Marks, first sung by Gene Autry based on a 1939 "cheery children's book", a Christmas giveaway published by the Montgomery Ward department store in Chicago. The booklet was written by Robert Lewis May 1905-1976, born into a secular Jewish home in New York, in fact Johnny Marks's brother-in-law. lyrics

Silver Bells 1950 first sung by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell in "The Lemon Drop Kid" lyrics

Frosty the Snowman 1950 first sung by Gene Autry as a follow up to Rudolph. lyrics

Mary's Boy Child (man will live for evermore) 1956 song by Harry Belafonte. lyrics

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