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My Top 10 Christmas Carols December 19, 2012

By Julie Murphree
Once again, I share my Top 10 Christmas Carols list.

So do you want to know one of my main reasons I love Christmas so much? Even on your average, secular radio station, the gospel is preached. Wade through “Santa Baby,” “Hippopotamus for Christmas” and other dorky Christmas songs, and you still get “O Holy Night,” “What Child is This,” “The First Noel” and more.

So for me, start the Christmas songs right after Thanksgiving, even a few days before. It’s the one time the secular world will share the Gospel of Jesus, born to save us! And the “Good News” is told to us in song. How beautiful!

So, here are my 10 favorite Christmas carols.

1. “O Little Town of Bethlehem
Perhaps a favorite Christmas carol because this song does speak of the “hopes and fears of all the years” being met in Christ’s birth on that one special night. And Jesus did. He meets all our hopes, addresses all our fears. The words to the popular traditional religious Christmas carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem” were written by an Episcopal priest named Phillips Brooks in 1867. The music, was written by Lewis H. Redner in 1868.

2. “Away in a Manger
I love babies! This song talks about the only divine baby and how special that moment was. The author of the first 2 verses of “Away in a Manger” is unknown, but the 3rd verse was composed by John T. McFarland. The music was composed by William J. Kirkpatrick in 1895.

3. “Silent Night
Who can’t sing this one? So powerful, it stopped WWI for a moment while troops from both sides sang it. “Silent Night” has been translated into over 300 languages and dialects. It is the song that was sung simultaneously in English and German by troops fighting in WWI during the Christmas truce of 1914.

4. “What Child Is This?”
Written in 1865, “What Child Is This?” It’s a song that asks a profound question that we should all answer individually.

5. “O Holy Night
O Holy Night (“Cantique de Noël”) was composed by Adolphe C. Adam in 1847 to the French Christmas poem “Minuit, chrétiens” by Placide Cappeau. It was translated into English by Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight, editor of Dwight’s Journal of Music, in 1855.

6. “The First Noel
This traditional English Christmas Carol, most likely from the 18th Century makes me imagine how the shepherds must has felt when they saw a chorus of angels from heaven. Just in the imagining it’s a moment I cannot forget.

7. “O Come, All Ye Faithful
The words to “O Come, All Ye Faithful” were written by John Francis Wade in 1743. Verses 1-3 and 6 were translated from Latin to English by Frederick Oakeley in 1841, while verses 4 & 5 were translated by William Thomas Brooke. I sing this and I am joyful and triumphant!

8. “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” was written in 1739 by Charles Wesley, the brother of the founder of the Methodist church, John Wesley. Again this one really gets my joy pumping!

9. “Angels We Have Heard on High
A song that expresses the joy of the angels on the birth of Christ and how even creation celebrates his birth. This popular carol was translated from French to English in 1862. The music and lyrics combined were first published together in a carol collection dated 1855.

10. “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
The traditional religious carol “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” was sung for centuries before being first published in Britain in 1833. The story goes that the carol was sung to the gentry by town watchmen who earned extra money during Christmas. I feel like I’m in England when I sing this one.

These songs bring joy, hope and an assurance that being in Christ brings the greatest peace we can ever know.

No wonder we keep singing them year after year.

Editor’s Note: So, what are your top 10 Christmas carols?


1. Jody Serey - December 14, 2010

O Holy Night; What Child Is This?; The Holly and the Ivy; We Three Kings of Orient Are; Coventry Carol; Joy to the World; O Come All Ye Faithful; O Little Town of Bethlehem; Angels We Have Heard on High; Ave Maria

2. Julie Murphree - December 14, 2010

Love your list. Forgot Ave Maria!!! So my top 11 favs

3. sonia - December 22, 2012

love all of the ones you named, my dad know Silent Night in German and it’s also gorgeous in Spanish, We have a private joke about Shut up Harold the angels are singing:) (one of Emily’s friends didn’t know what hark and herald meant and thought it was the man’s name). I like George Straits Christmas Time in Texas and Amy Grants Tender Tenessee Christmas just cause they make me enjoy home. Sang Away in a manager as my first ever solo for a doll when I was 5 so that still is very close to the top! I could go on but I’m sure you get the idea! I really appreciate comments and also praise God that the gospel is preached everywhere!