Religious Christmas Songs

A List of Beloved Christian Christmas Songs

Gold Treble Clef Ornament with Christmas Tree
articgoneape / Getty Images

Christmas music is an important part of the whole holiday season. The music and sounds of Christmas come from all styles and genres, providing something for every musical taste.

Some carols are totally secular, focusing on the fun of the holiday. Others are much more religious and traditional.

"Angels We Have Heard on High"

John Michael Talbot - The Birth of Jesus A Celebration of Christmas
John Michael Talbot - The Birth of Jesus A Celebration of Christmas. Sparrow Records

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. The carol has been covered by artists from just about every style of music.

Sandi Patty, John Michael Talbot, Point Of Grace, and Steven Curtis Chapman are some of the Christian artists that have chosen to sing this song. 

Many secular artists have recorded this song as well, including Josh Groban, Brian Culbertson, Bing Crosby, Joan Baez and Olivia Newton-John.

"Away in a Manger"

Steven Curtis Chapman - The Music of Christmas
Steven Curtis Chapman - The Music of Christmas. Sparrow

The author of the first two verses of "Away in a Manger" is unknown, but the third verse was composed by John T. Mc­Far­land. The music was composed by William J. Kirkpatrick in 1895.

This carol has been covered by Christian artists Jim Brickman, Twila Paris, Michael W. Smith, and Steven Curtis Chapman, while secular singers Martina McBride, Dwight Yoakam, Julie Andrews, Linda Ronstadt, and Nat King Cole have performed it as well.

"God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen"

4HIM - Christmas The Season Of Love
4HIM - Christmas The Season Of Love. Benson Records

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.

This carol has been covered by artists from several styles of music, some of whom went the traditional route, such as Christian acts Jars Of Clay, Steven Curtis Chapman, and MercyMe. Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan did a jazzy version, and other secular artists have given their interpretations as well, including Julie Andrews, Perry Como, Neil Diamond, and Mariah Carey.

"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"

Blackmore's Night - Winter Carols
Blackmore's Night - Winter Carols. Courtesy of: Blackmore's Night

"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" was written in 1739 by Charles Wesley, the brother of the founder of the Methodist church, John Wesley.

Mahalia Jackson, Charlotte Church and Diamond Rio are Christian singers who have performed this timeless carol, with popular mainstream versions coming from Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Martina McBride. 

"O Come, All Ye Faithful"

Stacie Orrico - Christmas Wish
Stacie Orrico - Christmas Wish. Forefront

The words to "O Come, All Ye Faithful" were written by John Francis Wade in 1743. Verses 1 through 3 and 6 were translated from Latin into English by Frederick Oakeley in 1841, while verses 4 and 5 were translated by William Thomas Brooke.

Third Day, Amy Grant and Mahalia Jackson have recorded traditional Christian versions of this carol, but it's proven popular among mainstream acts as well; Nat King Cole, Josh Groban and even Elvis Presley have made this carol their own. 

"O Holy Night"

Point Of Grace - A Christmas Story
Point Of Grace - A Christmas Story. Sony

This song's high note near the end, requiring a full octave leap in the middle of the word "divine," has attracted many a brave singer to try to scale its heights.

Opera singers like Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti both recorded it, and pop singer Josh Groban won accolades for his version. It's a favorite among Christian artists as well, with Point of Grace and Smokie Norful providing memorable renditions. 

"O Little Town of Bethlehem"

Mahalia Jackson - A Most Excellent Mahalia Jackson Christmas
Mahalia Jackson - A Most Excellent Mahalia Jackson Christmas. San Juan Music Group

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, titled "St. Louis," was written by Lewis H. Redner in 1868. It's a favorite among children's church choirs. 

Steven Curtis Chapman and Bebe Winans are some of the Christian artists that have recorded this song, with more mainstream versions popularized by Alabama, Sarah McLachlan, and Frank Sinatra. 

"Silent Night"

Amy Grant - A Christmas To Remember
Amy Grant - A Christmas To Remember. Word

"Silent Night" has been translated into more than 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.

Countless singers of all genres have lent their voices to this song. Christian themed performances include Amy Grant and Third Day, with Sinead O'Connor, Emmylou Harris and even Johnny Cash offering their interpretations. 

"The First Noel"

Randy Travis - Songs Of the Season
Randy Travis - Songs Of the Season. Word

"The First Noel" was first published in 1833 when it appeared in Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern, a collection of seasonal carols put together by William B. Sandys.

While it remains a staple at religious celebrations, with Christian versions by Bebe Winans and Third Day topping the list, it's gotten a countrified version from Kenny Rogers, a folksy version from Joan Baez and a bluegrass version by Emmylou Harris. 

"What Child Is This?"

Kevin Max - Holy Night
Kevin Max - Holy Night. Northern Records

Written in 1865, "What Child Is This?" is a quiet, tender song which usually gets a softer treatment than some other Christmas carols.

Point of Grace and Yolanda Adams are Christian acts who have recorded versions of this song, and it's attracted a diverse list of secular singers as well, including Joan Baez, Burl Ives, and Johnny Mathis. 

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Your Citation
Jones, Kim. "Religious Christmas Songs." Learn Religions, Sep. 21, 2021, Jones, Kim. (2021, September 21). Religious Christmas Songs. Retrieved from Jones, Kim. "Religious Christmas Songs." Learn Religions. (accessed May 30, 2023).