The lights, nativity sets and all the decorations help me get into the spirit of the season but the music really plays an important part in my preparation for celebrating the birth of the Christ Child.

Singer Nat 'King' Cole and his daughter Natalie Cole pose for a portrait session in front of a Christmas tree in circa 1955

Nat King Cole and his daughter, c. 1955. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

One website (https://www.thoughtco.com/top-christmas-songs-3245323) listed “The Christmas Song” as the Number One song of the season. Co-written by singer Mel Torme, it was recorded at least three times by Nat King Cole, but the 1961 recording is often considered the best. Hearing “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” puts you in the mood for the winter holiday.Judy Garland, as Esther Smith, in "Meet Me In St Louis," 1944.

Another classic is “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” sung by Judy Garland in the 1944 movie musical “Meet Me In St. Louis”. The filmmakers complained that in the first version, the song’s lyrics were too depressing and commissioned a rewrite that became the most popular interpretation.

Bing Crosby White Christmas

“White Christmas” introduced in the 1942 movie musical “Holiday Inn” won an Academy Award for Best Song From a Motion Picture. Bing Crosby’s version from the film has sold over 50 million copies. Little Drummer Boy was composed  by Katherine K. Davis in 1941. It was popularized in an arrangement by the Harry Simeone Chorale. An animated TV special was created based on the song’s story in 1968.

 

 

picture of rudolph red nosed reindeer - Digitally painted - JPG

Frosty the Snowman is another standard of the Christmas season. And you can’t leave out the story of Rudolph, Santa’s 9th reindeer, created by Montgomery Ward employee Robert L. May in 1939, adapted into song and turned into a hit by Gene Autry in 1949 and later by Burl Ives. Another standard is “Jingle Bells” which was first copyrighted under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh” in 1857. It has become one of the most popular Christmas songs around the world.

Brenda Lee Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

There are many other songs that are popular but not among my favorites. Brenda Lee’s “”Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” (1958) and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” written in 1934 and first performed on the Eddie Cantor radio show, are among them.

Add to the list “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (1994), “Jingle Bell Rock” (1957), “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” (1978), “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” (1956), and “Blue Christmas” (1948) and you have more than enough “Christmas” music.

stock photo of silent night - Silent night in suburban setting - JPG

I can enjoy some of the songs listed above and tolerate others but the “real” sounds are Christmas are found in the Christmas carols like Silent Night, It is believed that Silent Night was first composed in German in 1816. The song was later translated into English and sung by both sides in the World War I Christmas truce due to the fact it was the primary Christmas carol that both German and British soldiers knew.

joy to the world, heard the bells on christmas day, vintage sheet music, christmas hymn, public domain christmas song, free sheet music graphic

I can’t imagine  Christmas without singing Joy to the World written by Isaac Watts using Scripture for the lyrics or O Holy Night composed in 1847. Another that must be sung during the period leading up to Christmas Day is It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, written by Unitarian pastor Edmund Sears in 1849.

Don’t forget Angels We Have Heard on High which originated as a French carol but was translated into the English version in the mid-1800’s. Surely you will also want to sing We Three Kings written by Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr. together for a Christmas pageant at New York’s General Theological Seminary in the mid-1800’s.

Printable Christmas songs; 'O Come All Ye Faithful' is the only song I know how to sing in Latin. I want to do a journal page about this at some point...

Any musical journey toward Christmas has to include Hark! The Herald Angels Sing written by Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley the founder of Methodism. The first publication date for the carol was 1739. One of the best known carols is O Come All Ye Faithful, dating to the mid-1700’s and is often performed in Latin as “Adeste Fidelis.”

The birth of Jesus occurred in a relatively small and unimportant town. After visiting the birthplace of the Christ Child in 1865, Episcopal priest Phillips Brooks was inspired to write the words to O Little Town of Bethlehem.

Okay, by now I hope you are whistling, humming, or singing some of the Christmas Carols and adding to the sounds of the season. Hopefully they help you prepare for the High Holy Day that marks the time that God took on human form in the Person of Jesus, the Savior of the World.

Jamie Jenkins

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