"A Merry Christmas." 1900 - 1909
Welcome to The New York Public Library! Get free reading recommendations, events, and updates from NYPL. New Yorkers, sign up for a free library card from NYPL, and start borrowing e-books and accessing resources instantly!
And be sure to check outThe New York Public Library's Best Books of 2021.
With the holidays upon us, Christmas carols are everywhere, from Saks Fifth Avenue to Duane Reade. And while I’m as big a fan of the holidays as anyone, I must admit: not all Christmas carols are created equal. Some are just as likely to remind me why I love the holidays as they are to turn me into a total Scrooge. So I put together a list of the 18 most popular carols and ranked them, judging based on catchiness, Christmas cheer, and my willingness to hear them blared on repeat over the loudspeakers in the mall.
Note: Christmas songs in the pop or jazz music canon, such as “Let It Snow,” “Last Christmas,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “White Christmas,” etc., don’t count as Christmas carols! A carol has to be traditional or biblical in nature. If less traditional holiday music is more your style, check outCome On And Jingle Bell Rock to These Holiday Albums.
18. “The Little Drummer Boy”
Sorry drummer fans, but this popular carol ranks absolute last on my list. More cloying than cute, more maddening than catchy, "The Little Drummer Boy" is the uncanny valley of Christmas carols. I’ve thought this song was a little weird ever since that episode of The Office where Angela sings it at karaoke.
17. “Silent Night”
I know this one is popular, but for some reason I find "Silent Night" a bit… sedate. I guess that’s because it’s supposed to be a lullaby, but it just doesn’t fill me with excitement for the holidays. A good carol should raise your Christmas spirits, not put them to sleep.
16. “We Three Kings Of Orient Are"
This carol, which tells the story of the Three Magi who gave Jesus gold, frankincense, and myrrh at his birth, is a little too dark and mournful-sounding for my taste. The three kings who are singing honestly don’t sound too jazzed about the prospect of the Nativity. I know that Christmas is a serious occasion, but "We Three Kings" just isn’t inspiring enough to rank higher.
15. “O Come All Ye Faithful”
"O Come All Ye Faithful" is nice, and it strikes the right tone, but it’s just way more forgettable than the rest of the carols on this list. Maybe the lyrics aren’t as memorable, or the melody just isn’t as catchy, but there’s something about it that doesn’t stick with you. However, a great arrangement does pop up by surprise in everyone’s favorite Christmas movie, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York!
14. “12 Days of Christmas”
The “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” of Christmas carols. This one gets points for being catchy and upbeat, but there’s only so much of it one can take before getting out the holiday spirit entirely.
13. “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
I go back and forth between thinking this song is genuinely exciting or just a little bit annoying, but it’s hard to argue with a straightforward call for peace on Earth. This contemporary carol also avoids the corniness of more recently written songs (see “Little Drummer Boy”) while escaping the stiff tone of older carols. It’s not a standout, but Carrie Underwood's version is enough to keep it out of the bottom tier.
12. “I Saw Three Ships (Come Sailing In)”
This lesser-known carol is actually pretty upbeat and tuneful, and once you hear it, it’s hard to get that springy little melody out of your head. The only reason this one isn’t ranked any higher is because I truly have no idea what these lyrics are talking about. Ships sailing in to Bethlehem, which is landlocked? I don’t know about the factual accuracy of this carol, but Sting definitely turns it into a jam in this version:
11. “Hark The Herald Angels Sing”
I like this traditional carol, which has the right mix of reverence, serenity, and warmth to celebrate the Nativity. It’s not the most exciting song, but darn it, it warms my heart every time I hear the choral arrangement from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
10. “O Holy Night”
This carol, which was written in France to celebrate the renovation of a local church organ, is stealthily super inspiring. Weirdly enough, it’s been used in Christmas episodes on both Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and 30 Rock, both sitcoms about sketch comedy shows that debuted in the fall of 2006.
9. “Go Tell It On The Mountain”
No, not the excellent James Baldwin novel of the same name – I’m talking about the African-American spiritual about the Nativity, which has been recorded by Mahalia Jackson and James Taylor. This carol is just begging to be belted at a Madison Square Garden holiday concert, and it’s absolutely irresistible.
8. "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen"
Like “We Three Kings,” “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” is in a minor key, but in this case, the sadness somehow works: to me, it conjures images of icicles glistening in the winter sun, or dark streets covered in fresh snow. This carol can even get a little jazzy, almost like a tragic ballad sung in a smoky nightclub – if you don’t believe me, check out this video of Hozier singing a cover of it in the BBC1 Live Lounge.
7. “Joy to the World”
Of course, I had to include this traditional classic; with a rousing melody that echoes the music of Georg Friedrich Handel, it’s one of the most singable and popular carols of all time. On repeat listening, it does sound a bit square, but the pep and positivity of “Joy to the World” is downright infectious.
6. “O Christmas Tree” (“O Tannenbaum”)
This song is so transportative: it always makes me feel like I’m by a roaring fire, sipping eggnog, and surrounded by loved ones (conveniently, the typical family holiday stress is edited out). Those first few notes – “O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree” – are so uplifting, so simple, and so celebratory that this song can get me in the Christmas spirit even if I’ve been waiting on line at Macy’s for an hour and a half. Especially when it's given the Aretha Franklin treatment:
5. “Children, Go Where I Send Thee”
There’s no other way to put this: “Children, Go Where I Send Thee” is my jam. This gospel number is, like “12 Days of Christmas,” a cumulative song, which means each time you sing it, you add another verse. But unlike “12 Days of Christmas,” this is totally welcome, because “Children, Go Where I Send Thee” is awesome.
4. “Angels We Have Heard On High”
I have a soft spot for “Angels We Have Heard On High;” the icy melody is gorgeous, like a clear night sky full of brilliant stars. And don’t get me started on that descending melisma in “Gloria in exelsis deo,” which falls as gracefully as light snow. “Angels We Have Heard On High” isn’t just a great Christmas carol – it's an incredible song that evokes all the beauty of winter weather.
3. “Jingle Bells”
Did you know that “Jingle Bells” was originally written as a song for Thanksgiving? Somewhere down the way, it became a Christmas carol, and we’re all the better for it: “Jingle Bells” is upbeat, fun, and instantly recognizable. It’s one of the most popular songs ever, and it was even the first song broadcast from space. And if it’s good enough for space, it’s good enough for me.
2. “We Wish You a Merry Christmas"
There’s something about “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” that perfectly captures the dizzy excitement and abundant goodwill of the holidays, and I think it has the most triumphant and energetic melody of any carol on this list. That’s a roundabout way of saying that this song just makes me happy, and if carolers showed up to my door crooning this, I would definitely bring them some figgy pudding.
1. “Deck the Halls”
There can only be one: “Deck the Halls,” a Christmas staple made iconic by that singular refrain: “Fa la la la la, la la la la.” What’s more Yuletide than that? Gracious and exuberant in its celebration of Christmas, “Deck the Halls” takes the top spot on this list because it describes the best part of the holidays: decorating, dressing up, singing, and getting a bunch of stuff you don’t need. This traditional Welsh tune is the very spirit of Christmas: lively, festive, and full of light.
Thanks for reading, everyone! If you haven't gotten enough Christmas music yet, remember that there's a great collection of Christmas and holiday music available to borrow at the Library. And now, my bonus gift to you: Mariah Carey singing “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” but each time she says “Christmas,” it gets faster:
Happy holidays to you and yours!
Get free reading recommendations, events, and updates from The New York Public Library! New Yorkers, sign up for a free library card from NYPL, and start borrowing e-books and accessing resources instantly!
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby is not only the best-selling Christmas/holiday single in the United States, but also the best-selling single of all time, with estimated sales in excess of 50 million copies worldwide.
- "Wonderful Christmastime," Paul McCartney. ...
- "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)," Alvin and the Chipmunks. ...
- "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," The Jackson 5. ...
- "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer," Elmo&Patsy. ...
- "Santa Baby," Michael Bublé
- "What Christmas Means to Me" by John Legend. ...
- "One More Sleep" by Leona Lewis. ...
- "Oh Santa!" ...
- "Glittery" by Kacey Musgraves. ...
- "All I Want (For Christmas)" by Liam Payne. ...
- "Last Christmas" by Carly Rae Jepsen. ...
- "Cold December Night" by Michael Bublé ...
- "Feliz Navidad" by Gwen Stefani [feat.
My hands-down vote goes to O Little Town of Bethlehem, specifically the Redner tune. Because of the shape of the musical line (taking into consideration the slower tempo and some large jumps in melody), the carol should ideally be sung with only 4 breath marks / points in each verse.
Scrooge brings a little of the Christmas spirit into every day, respecting the lessons of Christmas more than any man alive. The narrator concludes the story by saying that Scrooge's words and thoughts should be shared by of all of us ... "and so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, Every one!"
- White Christmas.
- Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree.
- Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.
- Jingle Bells.
- Winter Wonderland.
- We Wish You A Merry Christmas.
- Driving Home For Christmas.
- Step Into ChristmasElton John.
- Mary's Boy Child / Oh My LordBoney M.
- Baby It's Cold Outside (duet with Michael Bublé)Idina Menzel, Michael Bublé
- Jingle Bells (R&B Version)Bing Cole.
- Santa Tell MeAriana Grande.
- Song: "Disco Christmas" Artist: Universal Robot Band.
- Song: "Present Face" Artist: Garfunkel and Oates.
- Song: "Dear Santa (Bring me a Man This Christmas)" ...
- Song: "Silver Bells" ...
- Song: "Christmas With Satan" ...
- Song: "If it Doesn't Snow for Christmas" ...
- Song: "The Santa Clause Boogie" ...
- Song: "Christmas With the Devil"
What was the first Christmas carol? It's generally accepted that one of the first Christmas carols ever to be recorded was the 129 AD 'Angels Hymn', according to The New Daily. Around this time, Christianity-themed hymns started taking over the previous pagan songs celebrating Winter Solstice.
The list that rounds out the top 10 is as follows: Crosby's “Silent Night,” 1933, $30 million; Mariah Carey's “All I Want for Christmas is You,” 1994, $16 million; Gene Autrey singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer ” brought in $12 million in 1949; the Band Aid song “Do They Know It's Christmas” (for famine relief ), ...
There's not many chart records the Beatles haven't broken and, yes, they have the most Christmas Number 1s of everyone – four in total.
"As It Was", the lead single from English singer Harry Styles' third studio album, Harry's House (2022), debuted atop the Hot 100 and spent 15 weeks at the top spot—the most for any song in 2022, and the longest reigning number-one song by a soloist in the 64-year history of the chart, surpassing "Candle in the Wind" ( ...
Colours for the coming Christmas 2022 will include metallic silver and metallic gold, different shades of green, associated with grass and leaves as natural elements. Space will also be given to pink and soft blue, romantic and rather unusual colours for Christmas décor, but which will be on trend this year.
- I'm Good (Blue) David Guetta & Bebe Rexha. David Guetta & Bebe Rexha. ...
- Shivers. Ed Sheeran. Ed Sheeran. ...
- Loser. Charlie Puth. Charlie Puth. ...
- Levitating. Dua Lipa. Dua Lipa. ...
- Unholy. Sam Smith & Kim Petras. Sam Smith & Kim Petras. ...
- The Motto. Tiësto & Ava Max. ...
- 2 Be Loved (Am I Ready) Lizzo. ...
- abcdefu. GAYLE.
- #1 I Believe In A Thing Called Love by The Darkness.
- #2 Listen by Beyoncé
- #3 Run by Leona Lewis.
- #4 Cry Me a River by Michael Bublé
- #5 Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.
- #6 My All by Mariah Carey.
- #7 You raise me up by Josh Groban.
- #8 Supermassive Black Hole by Muse.
A Christmas Carol (1984)
Scott's performance is the most substantial reason to watch this version, but for the horror fan, it's also one of the darkest and spookiest versions of the story. That includes Frank Finley's (Lifeforce) take on Marley.
He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come or the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come (or simply the Ghost of Christmas Future or the Spirit of Christmas Future) is a fictional character in English novelist Charles Dickens's 1843 novella A Christmas Carol.
Ebenezer Scrooge (/ˌɛbɪˈniːzər ˈskruːdʒ/) is the protagonist of Charles Dickens' 1843 novella A Christmas Carol.
1. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. This classic Christmas carol is loved by everyone, young and old.
History. The word carol is derived from the Old French word carole, a circle dance accompanied by singers (in turn derived from the Latin choraula).
Wonderful Dream (Holidays Are Coming)
|"Wonderful Dream (Holidays are Coming)"|
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Based on Tim Burton's children's book of the same name, The Nightmare Before Christmas is by far one of the all-time favorite holiday musicals.
What makes it an easy piano piece is the fact that the chorus part is very repetitive, so you play the same note time and time again in a rhythm before even changing notes.
The first Christmas song to mention Santa Claus was Benjamin Hanby's “Up on The Housetop.” Written in 1864, Hanby was inspired by Clement Moore's 1823 poem “A Visit from Saint Nicholas.” 3. Irving Berlin originally wrote “White Christmas” for a Broadway musical that was never produced.
The history of the Christmas number one - now one of the great festive traditions - begins with Al Martino and his ballad Here In My Heart. This topped the charts in 1952 and was not only the first Christmas number one, but also the first ever UK number one.
1. White Christmas - Bing Crosby. Not only is White Christmas the best-selling festive tune ever, it's the biggest-selling single of all time with an estimated 50 million sales.
Last Christmas was previously the UK's best-selling single to not reach Number 1. Wham's Last Christmas finally claims Number 1 on the Official Singles Chart 36 years after its release and breaks a new Official Chart record in the process, the Official Charts Company can confirm.
Harry Belafonte topped the charts with it in 1957 and Boney M took a one-horse open sleigh all the way to Number 1 with it (mashed up with Oh my Lord) in 1978. The only song to get the Christmas Number 1 twice by the same artist is Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.
Amazingly, Paul McCartney has had eight Christmas Number Ones as a member of The Beatles, Wings and three Band Aid incarnations. The only act to have four Christmas number ones are The Beatles - with three consecutive number ones starting in 1963.
American crooner Al Martino took the inaugural Official Singles Chart Number 1 with his track Here In My Heart.
No, the most recorded song of all time is, in fact, 'Summertime' by George Gershwin. Forget the 4,000 versions of 'Yesterday' and 6,600 recordings of 'Amazing Grace' — 'Summertime' has been recorded no less than 67,591 times by the likes of Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday, and Sam Cooke.
And the best-selling Christmas album of all time? Well, it turns out that the King of Rock 'n' Roll is also the King of Christmas. None other than Elvis Presley tops the charts with his 1957 release Elvis' Christmas Album.
Jingle bells is undoubtedly the most popular Christmas carol. It is also the easiest one to get the little ones all cheered up. It's traditionally sung at Christmas in most parts of the world.
The most recent Christmas number-one single is "Sausage Rolls for Everyone" by LadBaby, Ed Sheeran and Elton John, making LadBaby the first act to achieve four consecutive Christmas number ones.
Single by Wham! Upon its initial release in 1984, "Last Christmas" spent five consecutive weeks at number two in the UK Singles Chart—it was held off the top spot at Christmas by Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" (on which Michael also performed).