Traditional carols mainly focus on the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Other carols focus on more secular Christmas themes, such as winter scenes, family gatherings, and Santa Claus.
Well known carols
- "Adeste Fideles" ("O Come All Ye Faithful")
attributed to John Francis Wade around 1743
"All Hail to Thee"
"Angels From the Realms of Glory"
"Angels We Have Heard On High"
based on traditional carol "Les Anges dans nos Campagnes"
music is traditional hymn "Gloria"
English translation by James Chadwick in 1862
reworded, retitled, and sung by Michael W. Smith as "Gloria"
"As Lately We Watched"
"As With Gladness Men of Old"
"Away in a Manger"
first published in 1885
first two stanzas attributed to unknown author
third stanza written by Dr. John McFarland in 1904
"Boar's Head Carol"
"Break Forth, O Beauteous, Heav'nly Light"
"Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella"
"Carol of the Bells"
music and Ukrainian lyrics written by Mykola Leontovych in 1916 (originally titled "Shchedryk")
English lyrics written by Peter Wilhousky in 1936
music written by Alfred Burt in 1954
lyrics written by Wihla Hutson in 1954
"The Cherry-Tree Carol"
"Children, Go Where I Send Thee"
"Christ Is Born In Bethlehem"
"Christians, Awake, Salute the Happy Morn"
"Christmas Auld Lang Syne"
"Christmas is Coming"
"Come Buy My Nice Fresh Ivy"
music written by Turlough O'Carolan (originally titled "O'Carolan's Lament")
lyrics written by John Keegan in 1849
"Deck the Halls"
"Ding Dong Merrily on High"
music written by Jehan Tabourot
words written by George Ratcliffe Woodward
"Do You Hear What I Hear?"
written by Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne in 1962
first recorded by The Harry Simeone Chorale in 1962
"The First Noël"
"The Friendly Beasts"
"Go Tell it on The Mountain"
"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"
"Good King Wenceslas"
"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"
music written by Felix Mendelssohn originally as part of Festgesang
words written by Charles Wesley
"Here We Come a-Wassailling"
"Hey, Ho, Nobody Home"
"The Holly and the Ivy"
"Huron Carol" ("'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime")
"I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day"
lyrics by Longfellow
"In The Bleak Midwinter"
"I Saw Three Ships"
"I Wonder As I Wander"
"In Dulci Jubilo" ("Good Christian Men, Rejoice" or "Good Christian Friends, Rejoice")
"In the Bleak Midwinter"
"It Came Upon A Midnight Clear"
"Joy to the World"
"Joseph Dearest, Joseph Mild"
"The Little Drummer Boy"
written by Katherine Davis, Henry Onorah and Harry Simeone
first recorded by The Harry Simeone Chorale in 1958
also recorded by Bob Seger, Percy Faith, Mercy Me, Jars of Clay
"Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming"
"Love Came Down at Christmas"
"March of the Kings"
"Mary's Little Boy Child"
"Masters in This Hall"
"O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" ("Veni, Veni, Emmanuel"; actually an Advent hymn)
"O Come, Little Children"
"O Holy Night"
"O Little Town of Bethlehem"
retitled and sung by Amy Grant as "Little Town"
"Of the Father's Love Begotten"
"Once In Royal David's City"
"On Christmas Night all Christians Sing"
"Out of the East"
"The Peace Carol"
"Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow"
"Sans Day Carol"
"Saw Ye Never, in the Twilight"
written by Franz Xaver Gruber
"Silver and Gold"
"Sing We Now of Christmas"
"The Snow Lay on the Ground"
"Songs of Praise the Angels Sang"
"Still, Still, Still"
"The Sussex Carol"
"Sweet Little Jesus Boy"
"There's a Song in the Air"
composed by John Joubert in 1951
"The Twelve Days of Christmas"
"Unto Us a Boy is Born"
"The Wassail Song"
"Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne"
"The Virgin's Slumber Song"
"We Wish You A Merry Christmas"
"We Three Kings Of Orient Are" (actually an Epiphany carol)
written by Reverand John Henry Hopkins in 1863
"What Child Is This?"
music is traditional song "Greensleeves"
words written by William Chatterton Dix
"While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night"
Popular Christmas songs that are not considered carols
- "A Holly Jolly Christmas"
written by Johnny Marks
first recorded by Burl Ives in 1964
also recorded by Alan Jackson
"A Marshmellow World"
words by Carl Sigman
music by Peter De Rose
recorded by Bing Crosby
"All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth"
written by Donald Yetter Gardner
first recorded by Spike Jones in 1948
"All I Want for Christmas Is You"
written by Walter Afanasieff and Mariah Carey
first recorded by Mariah Carey in 1994
"Babes in Toyland"
written by Victor Herbert and Glen MacDonough
written by Bill Hayes and Jay Johnson
first recorded by Doye O'Dell in 1948
also recorded by Elvis Presley
words and Music by Bob Saffer and Frank Linale
recorded by Nat King Cole
words by Jenny Lou Carson
music by Eddy Arnold
"The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)"
written by Ross Bagdasarian
first recorded by The Chipmunks in 1958
"Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"
written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector
first recorded by Darlene Love in 1963
also recorded by Mariah Carey, Rosie O'Donnell featuring Cher
"Christmas All Over Again"
written by Tom Petty
first recorded by Tom Petty in 1992
music by Burt Bacharach, lyrics by Hal David
from the Broadway musical Promises, Promises (1968)
"Christmas for Cowboys"
words and music by Steve Weisburg
"Christmas in Killarney"
words and music by John Redmond, James Cavanaugh, and Frank Weldon
words by Spence Maxwell
music by Percy Faith
words and music by Lyle Moraine
written by Leonard Ahlstrom and Eddie Carswell
first recorded by NewSong in 2000
"The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)"
written by Mel Tormé and Robert Wells
first recorded by The Nat King Cole Trio in 1946
also recorded by The Carpenters, Celine Dion, Al Jarreau, Luther Vandross, Toni Braxton
"Christmas Time: Don't Let The Bells End"
first recorded by The Darkness
"Christmas Time Is Here"
written by Vince Guaraldi and Lee Mendelson
first recorded by Vince Guaraldi in 1965
also recorded by Chicago, Mercy Me, Diana Krall, Toni Braxton
"Christmas Time Is Here Again"
written by George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr
first recorded by The Beatles
written by Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann
"The Christmas Waltz"
music by Jules Styne, lyrics by Sammy Cahn, c.'Bold text'1954
recorded by Frank Sinatra, Nancy Wilson, Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee, Harry Connick Jr., The Carpenters, and many others
"Do They Know It's Christmas?"
written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure
first recorded by Band Aid
written by José Feliciano
first recorded by José Feliciano in 1970
also recorded by Celine Dion
"Frosty the Snowman"
written by Steve Edward Nelson and Jack Rollins
first recorded by Gene Autry in 1950
also recorded by the Jackson 5, Willie Nelson
"Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer"
written by Randy Brooks
first recorded by Elmo & Patsy in 1983
"Hanover Winter Song"
words and music by Richard Hovey and Frierick Field Bullard
"Happy Birthday Jesus"
words by Estelle Levitt
music by Lee Pockriss
"Happy Xmas (War Is Over)"
written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono
first recorded by John & Yoko The Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir
also recorded by Celine Dion
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
written by Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin
first recorded by Judy Garland for the film "Meet Me in St. Louis" in 1944
also recorded by Frank Sinatra, The Carpenters, James Taylor, The Pretenders, Amy Grant, Chicago, Kenny Loggins, Toni Braxton
"Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)"
written by Gene Autry and Oakley Haldeman
first recorded by Gene Autry in 1947
also recorded by Elvis Presley
"I Believe In Father Christmas"
written by Greg Lake and Peter Sinfield
first recorded by Greg Lake of Emerson Lake and Palmer in 1977
"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"
written by Thomas Connor
first recorded by Jimmy Boyd in 1952
"I'll Be Home for Christmas"
written by Kim Gannon, Walter Kent and Buck Ram
first recorded by Bing Crosby in 1943
also recorded by Frank Sinatra, Amy Grant, The Carpenters
"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas"
written by Robert Meredith Willson
first recorded by Perry Como on September 18, 1951
also recorded by Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis
"It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year"
written by Edward Pola and George Wyle
first recorded by Andy Williams in 1963
also recorded by Amy Grant, Johnny Mathis, Toni Braxton
words by Don Ray
music by Paul J. Smith
In the film Beaver Valley
"Jingle Bell Rock"
written by Joe Beale and Jim Boothe
first recorded by Bobby Helms in 1957
also recorded by Hall & Oates
written by James Pierpont
"Jolly Old St. Nicholas"
written by George Michael
first recorded by Wham!
also recorded by Hilary Duff, Jimmy Eat World, Darren Hayes of Savage Garden, Billie Piper
"Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!"
written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne
first recorded by Vaughn Monroe on October 31, 1945
also recorded by Andy Williams, Chicago, Gloria Estefan, Dean Martin, Johnny Mathis
"Let There Be Peace on Earth"
written by Jill Jackson and Seymour Miller
"The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot"
words and music by Tommie Connor, Jimmy Leach, and Michael Carr
"Little Saint Nick"
written by Brian Wilson
first recorded by The Beach Boys in 1964
"Mele Kalikimaka (the Hawaiian Christmas Song)"
words and music by R. Alex Anderson
Recoded by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters
"Merry Christmas, Baby"
"The Merry Christmas Polka"
words by Paul Francis Webster
music by Sonny Burke
written by Lou Baxter and Johnny Moore
"Merry Xmas Everybody"
written by Noddy Holder and Jim Lea
first recorded by Slade
"Nuttin' for Christmas'"
words and music by Sid Pepper and Roy C. Bennett
first performed by Barry Gordon on The Miton Berle Show
also recorded by Stan Freburg, Eartha Kitt, and Homer and Jethro amoung others
"Please Come Home for Christmas"
written by Charles Brown|Charles Mose Brown and Gene C. Redd
first recorded by Charles Brown in 1960
also recorded by The Eagles, Aaron Neville
"Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree"
written by Johnny Marks
first recorded by Brenda Lee in 1958
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"
written by Johnny Marks
first recorded by Gene Autry in 1949
also recorded by Harry Connick, Jr., Burl Ives, Ray Conniff, Dean Martin
"Run Rudolph Run"
written by Marvin Brodie and Johnny Marks
first recorded by Chuck Berry in 1958
written by Joan Javits, Philip Springer and Tony Springer
first recorded by Eartha Kitt in 1953
"Santa Claus Is Back in Town"
written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
first recorded by Elvis Presley in 1957
"Santa Claus Is Coming To Town"
written by J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie
recorded by Mariah Carey, Bruce Springsteen, Chicago
"Santa Claus, Indiana, U.S.A
words and Music by Abe Olman and Al Jacobs
written by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston
first recorded by Bing Crosby in 1951
"Sleep Well, Little Children (A Christmas Lullaby)"
words by Alan Burgman
Music by Leon Latzkin
Recorded by The Carpenters
music written by Leroy Anderson in 1948
lyrics written by Mitchell Parish in 1950
instrumental version first recorded by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra in 1949
vocal version first recorded by Merv Griffin with Freddy Martin and his Orchestra in 1951
also recorded by Deborah Gibson, Amy Grant, Leroy Anderson, The Carpenters, Air Supply, Johnny Mathis
words and music by Sid Topper and Roy C. Bennett
"Take Me Back To Toyland"
words by Kal Mann
Music by Bernie Lowe
"That's What I Want for Christmas"
words by Irving Caesar
music by Gerald Marks
"(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays"
written by Robert Allen and Al Stillman
first recorded by Perry Como on November 16, 1954
also recorded by The Carpenters
words by Glen MacDonough
music by Victor Herbert
part of the oppetetta Babes in Toyland
"Up on the Housetop"
"We Need a Little Christmas"
written by Jerry Herman
first recorded by The Original Broadway Cast of Mame 1966
also recorded by Percy Faith, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams
"When Santa Claus Gets your Letter"
words and Music by Johnny Marks
written by Irving Berlin
first recorded by Bing Crosby for the film "Holiday Inn" in 1942
also recorded by Chicago
written by Alice Hawthorne
"Will Santy Come to Shanty Town?"
words and music by Eddy Arnold, Steve Nelson, and Ed Nelson, Jr.
words by Alfred Bryan
music by Albert Gumble
written by Felix Bernard and Dick Smith
first recorded by Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians in 1934
also recorded by Amy Grant, Eurythmics, Johnny Mathis
"Wonderful Christmas Time"
written by Paul McCartney
first recorded by Paul McCartney