History of Popular Christmas Carols

History of Popular Christmas Carols

As Christmas approaches once again, it is time to reflect upon the meaning of the season. There is no better way to do this than to immerse oneself in Christmas carols. These carols, typically performed by church choirs, have captivated people’s attention for ages. Although listeners are mesmerised by these beautiful pieces, it is also interesting to learn about their origins. Here are some of the popular Christmas carols that have accompanied us since we started celebrating Christmas.

Silent Night. Starting with the lyrics “Silent Night, Holy Night, All Is Calm, All Is Bright”, Silent Night is a popular Christmas carol. This carol has an interesting story. It was Christmas Eve of 1818 and something had happened in the tiny Austrian village of Ogledorf. A blizzard had set upon the village and trapped the community, who could not find help to repair their broken-down organ. They set about composing a carol that could only be performed with vocals. Joseph Mohr, the Austrian Roman Catholic priest, worked with organist and music composer Franz Xaver Gruber, all through the day. At midnight, the carol Silent Night was born. Today, this popular piece has seen many cover versions and is one of the most recognisable pieces sung during Christmas.


O Holy Night. Another Christmas carol that is worth mentioning is O Holy Night. Like Silent Night, O Holy Night has an interesting beginning. In 1843 in the French town of Roquemaure, a church had just had its organ repaired. To celebrate the occasion, the priest asked the local wine merchant and poet, Placide Cappeau, to draft a poem. Cappeau did and when it was completed, Adolphe Adam wrote the accompanying music. It was not till 1847 when the song was finally released.


Joy To The World. Another Christmas carol, Joy To The World, has an older history. This song was composed in 1719 by Isaac Watts, an English Christian minister who lived from 1674 to 1748. He was a Pastor and was awarded a Doctor of Divinity by the University of Edinburgh in 1728. He wrote many hymns and carols during his lifetime and it is said that he had 750 hymns under his belt. The music for Joy To The World was written by George Frederick Handel (1685 – 1759).


O Come, All Ye Faithful. This is another well-known Christmas carol from the 18th century. This song is said to be been written by various people. These include John Francis Wade, John Reading and king John IV of Portugal. However, this song is often credited to John Francis Wade, who wrote the hymn in Latin in 1744 and was also known to have also composed the tune. The English version of this song was the work of English Catholic priest Frederick Oakeley, who performed the translation in 1841.


With so many beautiful Christmas carols surrounding us this festive season, we cannot help but look forward to a most meaningful and joyful Christmas!

Merry Christmas!