Christmas carols are a cornerstone of the holiday season, and hearing your favorite jingle can instantly fill you with holiday cheer. Everyone has their own personal favorite, and your kids will likely find themselves smitten with their own favorite songs. Whether you’re just starting to teach your kids different carols or trying to put together a medley so that you can go caroling around the neighborhood this year, there is no shortage of songs to choose from. Here is a list of the top 10 Christmas carols kids should learn and a little of their history.
1. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Robert May created the story Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer for the retailer Montgomery Ward in 1939. May’s brother-in-law Johnny Marks then turned the story into a song. The song was recorded by the legendary Gene Autry and the song went to #1 on the music charts during the week of Christmas in 1949. It has since sold over 25 million copies. The story was later made into a cartoon in 1944 and the song was added in 1948.
2. Frosty the Snowman – This song happened in reverse of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The song was recorded by Gene Autry in 1950 following the success of Rudolph. A little golden book of Frosty the Snowman was adapted from the song in 1950. The cartoon version came out in 1969.
3. Away in the Manger – This song was first published in 1885 and the words have been attributed to Martin Luther, however, there is some skepticism about whether or not he really wrote the poem that became this song. There is nothing hard and fast that says who really wrote it. Charles Gabriel added the third verse of “Be near me Lord Jesus” in 1892. It’s been voted one of the best carols ever written.
4. Deck the Halls – A very old song, the tune dates back to the 16th century. Mozart used the tune in Sonata No. 18. The lyrics are believed to be American.
5. Silent Night – This German song was first performed in 1818 in Austria by father Joseph Mohr. This song is so popular that it has been recorded by nearly every artist that has ever recorded a Christmas album. There are various stories about this song’s history, but most think Mohr just needed another song he could play on his guitar.
6. We Wish You a Merry Christmas – Going back to 16th century England, this was a popular carol sung through the streets, and the wealthy used to give the carolers figgy puddings for their singing efforts. This song was typically the last song sung.
7. Santa Claus is Coming to Town – This traditional song was written by John Coots and Haven Gillespie and was first performed on a radio show in 1934. The song was very popular, and has been recorded by many artists over the years.
8. Jingle Bells – A well-known secular song, Jingle Bells was written by James Lord Pierpont in 1850. Funny as it sounds, this song was actually written for Thanksgiving and not Christmas. The song was originally called “One Horse Open Sleigh.”
9. Joy to the World – This song is based on Psalm 98 from the Bible and written by a hymn writer named Isaac Watts in 1719. Watts actually wrote the hymn to celebrate Jesus’ return, not his birth. Only the last part of Watts’ original lyrics are used today.
10.12 Days of Christmas – Not a lot is known about the origins of this song. It is believed to be French originally, but was sung a lot in England as well. Common belief is that it may have started as a game, where one person started and then the next person had to say what the first person said and then add on to it. The game continued until someone made a mistake. The 12 days of Christmas start on Dec. 25th and end on Jan. 5th. All of the gifts are believed to cost $24,263.18 in 2011. The gifts have almost doubled in price since the 1984 estimated cost.
These 10 songs are some of the most well-known Christmas carols, and are beloved by many. Your kids will have a blast singing these popular favorites, and if they learn them well enough you might just have to take the kids Christmas caroling this year to show them off.