Top Christian Christmas Songs

Listen to the Songs Christians Love at Christmastime

Christian Christmas Songs
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Find something for everyone in this collection of top Christian Christmas songs as you learn a little history about each composition. From contemporary to classic Christmas favorites, children's picks and nostalgic selections, explore some of the best-loved music of all time.

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O Holy Night

Christian Christmas Songs
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Originally, "O Holy Night" was written as a poem by French wine merchant and poet Placide Cappeau (1808-1877). Inspired by the Gospel of Luke, he wrote these famous lines in honor of the renovation of a church organ in Roquemaure, France. Later, Cappeau's friend and composer, Adolphe Adams, put the words to song. "O Holy Night" was performed for the first time on Christmas Eve by opera singer Emily Laurie at the church in Roquemaure. The lyrics were translated into English in 1855 by American minister and publisher John Sullivan Dwight.

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O Come, All Ye Faithful

O Come All Ye Faithful
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For many years "O Come, All Ye Faithful" was known as an anonymous Latin hymn. Recent investigation has revealed that it was written and set to music by an Englishman named John Wade in 1744. It was first published in his collection, Cantus Diversi, in 1751. One century later "O Come, All Ye Faithful" was translated into its modern-day English form by Anglican minister Frederick Oakeley for his congregation to use in worship.

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Joy to the World

Joy to the World
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"Joy to the World," written by Isaac Watts (1674–1748), was titled "The Messiah's Coming and Kingdom" when it was initially published in a 1719 hymnal. The song is a paraphrase of the last part of Psalm 98. The music for this beloved Christmas song is thought to be an adaptation of George Frederick Handel's Messiah by Lowell Mason, an American church musician.

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O Come, O Come Emmanuel

What Does Immanuel Mean?
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"O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" was used in the 12th-century church as a series of short musical statements sung throughout the week before Christmas Eve. Each line anticipates the coming Messiah with one of his Old Testament titles. The song was translated into English by John M. Neale (1818–1866).

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O Little Town of Bethlehem

What Is Bethlehem?
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In 1865, Pastor Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) of Holy Trinity Church in Philadelphia, traveled to the Holy Land. On Christmas Eve he was deeply moved while worshiping at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. One evening three years later, Brooks, inspired by his experience, wrote "O Little Town of Bethlehem" as a carol for the children to sing in a Sunday School program. He asked his organist, Lewis R. Redner, to compose the music.

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Away in a Manger

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Another favorite of children and adults, "Away in a Manger" was believed by many to be the creation of Martin Luther for his children and then passed down by German parents. But this claim has been discredited. The first two verses of the song were originally published in Philadelphia in the Little Children’s Book of 1885. The third verse was added by a Methodist minister, Dr. John T. McFarland, in the early 1900’s for use in a children’s church day program.

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Mary, Did You Know?

Mary the Mother of Jesus
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A contemporary Christmas anthem, "Mary, Did You Know?," was first recorded in 1991 by Michael English. Mark Lowry composed the haunting song in 1984 for use in his church's Christmas program. Since then the piece has been recorded and performed by numerous Christian and non-Christian recording artist in multiple genres.

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Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Hark the Herald Angels Sing
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In the early 1600's, Christmas carols were abolished by English Puritans because of their association with the celebration of Christmas, a holiday they considered a "worldly festival." For this reason, Christmas hymns were rare in 17th and early 18th century England. So, when the prolific hymn writer Charles Wesley (1707-1788) wrote "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," it was one of a handful of Christmas hymns written during this period. Combined with Felix Mendelssohn music, the song quickly gained popularity and still stands today as a Christmas favorite among Christians of all ages.

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Go Tell It on the Mountain

Good News of Christmas
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"Go Tell It on the Mountain" has its roots in the tradition of African American spirituals. Sadly, not many of these songs were compiled or published before the mid-1800s. "Go Tell It on the Mountain" was written by John W. Work, Jr. John and his brother, Frederick helped arrange, promote, and guide the cause of this folk genre. First published in Folk Songs of the American Negro in 1907,  "Go Tell It on the Mountain" has become an energetic anthem for devoted Christians who realize the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ is meant to be shared with the desperate and needy people of the world.

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Hallelujah Chorus

Bill Fairchild

For many believers, Christmas would feel incomplete without German composer George Friderick Handel's (1685-1759) timeless "Hallelujah Chorus." Part of the masterpiece oratorio Messiah, this chorus has become one of the best-known and widely loved Christmas songs of all time. Originally performed as a Lenten piece, history and tradition altered the association, and now the inspiring echoes of "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" are an integral part of the sounds of the Christmas season.

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Your Citation
Fairchild, Mary. "Top Christian Christmas Songs." Learn Religions, Sep. 21, 2021, Fairchild, Mary. (2021, September 21). Top Christian Christmas Songs. Retrieved from Fairchild, Mary. "Top Christian Christmas Songs." Learn Religions. (accessed June 10, 2023).