Best Christian Christmas Songs

We know Christmas is coming when we start hearing Christmas songs on the radio, in the mall, and just about everywhere we go. We know the melodies and the lyrics, we’re familiar with them, and they bring about a sense of excitement for the holidays to come.

Music has the power to move us and when it comes to Christmas carols, it certainly provides the very atmosphere and general emotion of the season. But beyond the merriment and the celebrations with family and friends, do we really understand what these songs are all about? Are they about the Christmas holiday or do they express something more?

What is the significance of Christmas songs for Christians?

The History of Christian Christmas Songs

We call these songs Christmas carols, but really, they are Christian hymns that talk about the birth of Jesus Christ. However, carols were an entirely different form of song, to begin with.

Before Christianity came about, pagans were already singing carols for each season: summer, spring, autumn, and winter. It just so happened that winter carols fell on the shortest day of the year, which is around December 22 or also known as the Winter Solstice. And this also happens to be very proximate to the date of birth of Jesus Christ.

Pagan songs were sung on this day to celebrate the winter season, and it consisted of singing, dancing around in circles, and celebrations. In fact, the word “carol” in Latin means “to sing or chant.” They were originally written and sung during all the four seasons but only the tradition of caroling in the winter season has survived, partly because of the onset of Christianity, with the birth of Jesus.

Early Christians took on the pagan tradition, and it was in 129 CE that the first recorded Christmas song was ever sung in Church. A Roman Bishop ordered the song “Angel’s Hymn” to be sung at a Christmas service in Rome.

Most of the Christmas songs, however, were written in Latin in a language that most Christians could not understand. This created a disinterest in singing Christmas songs and it later disappeared from the celebrations of Christmas. But it wasn’t until 1223 when St. Francis of Assissi began staging Nativity Plays in Italy that interest in these hymns began to start again.

Some of the songs that were sung were written in Latin but many were also translated into the languages that audiences could understand. These Nativity plays soon disseminated to other countries, and thus, Christmas songs began to emerge once again, but this time, in languages native to the countries where they were being played and sung.

With the development of printing technology, soon came about printed carols that were distributed to congregations. The oldest printed carol is said to be the “Boar’s Head Carol,” which was published in 1521 and it was traditionally sung at the Queen’s College, Oxford, during Christmas lunch celebrations.

In the 16th century, Puritans tried to ban Christmas carols but the tradition still carried on in secret, and thus, these songs survived. By the 19th century, the rise in popularity of Christmas songs began. Christmas music books were being distributed and this led to a spiked interest in playing and singing these songs. During this time, the notion of Christmas caroling also began. Originally called “Waits,” Christmas carollers would gather together and assemble in public spaces. They would perform for passers-by, who, in turn, would thank them with offerings of once pies and tasty drinks.

It was further popularized in the 20th century when Oxford University Press published one of the most famous carol books, entitled, “Carols of Choirs.” This book of compilation is considered to be significantly influential and changed how the world integrated the singing of carols during the Christmas season.

Today, Christmas is never complete without Christmas songs playing or being sung in church choirs. They are uplifting and inspiring and centered around the birth of Jesus Christ and the overall message of the season.

These songs are sung in churches in the lead up to Christmas, and usually starts on the first Sunday of Advent, until Christmas day, and singing of the songs usually end on the feast of Epiphany, which is the day celebrated, through the revelation of the baby Jesus, which usually occurs around January 6 of each year.

The Significance of Christian Christmas Songs

Christmas today has taken on an entirely different meaning all over the world. Originally, the tradition was about celebrating the birth and the message of Jesus Christ. It was about coming together to commune and connect with other believers, and to celebrate Jesus together in Church.

Today, Christmas has taken on a complete commercial appeal, from buying gifts for family and friends to corporate parties, house parties, and vacations. It has taken on a completely capitalistic and mass consumerism approach versus the traditional celebrations of many hundreds of years ago when Christianity began. Shopping, parties, decorations, and traveling have defined the Christmas season, overshadowing the true meaning of why we celebrate the holiday in the first place.

In terms of Christian Christmas songs, many Christians and non-Christians sing them without really knowing the true message of the songs. They memorize the lyrics, can play the song with instruments, and sing them with absolute glee and joy.

But to really experience the true essence of Christian Christmas songs, you really have to understand their genuine message.

Christian Christmas songs must provide you with the following:

  • Inspire You to Worship God

Christian Christmas songs celebrate the life and birth of Jesus, as well as His message. Some also talk about the sacrifice of God, salvation, and other messages. When we sing these sings, we must understand that as Christian songs, they are meant to worship God. Singing hymns is one of the best ways that you can worship God because it evokes an entirely different experience and emotions that mere prayer or meditation can’t fulfill. When you sing to the Lord, you are leaving every other thing away from your mind and you’re truly focusing on singing praises and gratitude, as well as your love for God. So when you sing Christmas songs, always remember that it’s always about worshipping God first.

  • Help You Understand God’s Sacrifices

God sent His only Son to us to save us. He sacrificed His Son so we may be redeemed, saved from our sins, and go to heaven. We must understand that the Christmas season, as the birth of Jesus, was the greatest act of sacrifice from God. So when we sing these songs, we must remember this massive sacrifice, and the gratitude we must have for Him.

  • Create a Stronger Relationship with God

The more you understand the true meaning of Christian Christmas songs, the more you understand His love for you. The more you sing and truly savor the messages of the songs, the more intimate you get with Christ. And that is the true purpose of these songs.

Seven of the Most Popular Christian Christmas Songs

There are so many Christmas songs today that you might not even recognize some of them. But there are a few that have remained the most popular, and the greatest representations of what Christmas really is about.

Here are seven of the most popular Christian Christmas songs and what they mean:

1. The First Noel

This moving and solemn song has Cornish origins and is a traditional English Christmas carol. It talks about singing praise to the Lord, about forgiveness and salvation, as well as eternal life through Jesus Christ. It also talks about how God created the Earth out of nothing, and that He is the very same God that provides us with salvation.

The last verse of the song goes, “Then let us all with one accord, sing praises to our heavenly Lord, who hath made heaven and last of brought, And with His blood mankind hath bought.”

2. Joy To The World

The complete opposite of The First Noel in terms of tempo, Joy To The World is an upbeat and energetic song. It was written by Isaac Watts and by the last 20th century, was the most published Christmas song in North America. The song was based on the Scriptures Psalm 98, Psalm 96: 11-12, and Genesis 3:17 18, and was first published in 1719, as part of Watt’s collection called “The Psalm of David.”

The song calls on Christians to embrace Jesus Christ as both King and Savior, The lyrics, “Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room,” teaches us that Jesus has been given by God to us and that we must welcome Him as our living savior.

3. Silent Night

Another solemn song, Silent Night is one of the most popular Christmas hymns in the world. It was written in 1818 and talks about sinful men and women, and how they can still experience the peace of God, as well as peace here on Earth. It talks about the redeeming grace being the reason why God sent His only Son to us.

One of the lines in the songs states, “Radiant beams from Thy holy face, with the day of redeeming grace.”

Jesus died for us to give us this redeeming grace so that through Him, sinful men and women might be restored to God.

4. O Holy Night

This well-known Christmas carol was written in 1847 and based on the poem called “Midnight, Christians,” by poet Placide Cappeau. The poem reflects on the birth of Jesus Christ as the redemption of humanity. Another solemn Christian Christmas song, it does a great job at teaching us the character of Jesus and how His salvation saved us.

One line of the song goes, “Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till He appeared and the soul felt His worth.”

It talks about the world being full of sin and “error pining,” and wasting away our lives until the savior “appeared and the soul felt the worth of His salvation.”

5. Hark The Herald Angels Sing

Another upbeat song, this song first appeared in the collection of Hymns and Sacred Poems in 1739, which included lyrics contributed by Charles Wesley and George Whitefield, who were two of the founding members of Methodism.

The song helps Christians to see the glory of God in the incarnation, which is the birth of Christ. “Incarnation” means “in the flesh,” and it talks about how God became a man through Jesus, to ultimately save us from our sins.

The last lines of the second verse of the song go, “Hail the’incarnate Deity, pleased with us in flesh to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel.”

6. O Come All Ye Faithful

This song was written in 1841 and translated to English by the English Catholic priest, Frederick Oakeley. It talks about the birth of Christ and references the shepherds who came to the stable after hearing the angels sing. It symbolizes our gathering as Christians to welcome Christ into our lives, and to worship together as shepherds of the Lord.

7. O Little Town of Bethlehem

This song talks about the town where Jesus was born, in Bethlehem. It was written by Phillip Brooks in the 18th century and does a great job of showing us the salvation of our eternal God. Through the birth of His Son in this small town, mostly unnoticed by the world, the greatest awakening of humankind has taken place.

The second verse of this song goes:

“For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above, While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love. O morning stars, together proclaim the holy birth, And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth.”

Christian Christmas songs contain deeper meaning than mere celebrations and festivities during the holidays. They do have immense power over us, providing us with the backdrop to this amazing season of giving and connection, of family, and friendships, of love and coming together as one. But we must not also forget the true gist of these songs, and why they were written in the first place.

And that is to worship, meditate, and give thanks to the Almighty for His greatest sacrifice, and that was giving His only Son to us in the form of Jesus Christ, so that we may be saved from our sins, and have the keys to eternal life.

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