For many people it simply would not be Christmas without the music of the season. Despite the “Christmas Muzak” that often permeates retail stores (sometimes before Halloween) most Christmas celebrants eagerly look forward to the sounds of Christmas. The music of Christmas may have a long historical record or be punctuated with new sounds from contemporary artists. You may like listening to your Christmas music while decorating your tree or baking cookies or take a modern approach by adding Christmas carols to your workout music routine. However you like Christmas music, there is something for you. While Christmas music can be fun, religious or even historical here is a list of the top ten inspiring Christmas songs. The songs are listed in no particular order with a brief history.
1.The Little Drummer Boy is a Christmas song from 1958. Credited for its creation are Katherine K. Davis, Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone. This song is also known as the “Carol of the Drum”. An interesting note to this song is the fact that its creation is still under dispute. It is reported that the song really was written by Katherine K. Davis, in 1941 under that latter title (Carol of the Drum). Also debate continues to this day as whether or not Carol of the Drum really was a “freely transcribed” Czech carol.
2.Hark the Herald Angels-This song is one of the best loved carols of our time. Charles Wesley, (the brother of the famous John Wesley), wrote this carol in 1739. By the end of his life Charles had written over 6,500 hymns, making him the most prolific hymn-writer of all time. Charles Wesley was born on December 18th, 1707, the 18th of 18 children. In those days, Anglicans never sung hymns in church as it was deemed to be worldly. Hymn-singing and carol-singing was seen as a very radical thing to do.
3.Do You Hear What I Hear?-This song was written by Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The song has been recorded by Bing Crosby, Perry Como and over 120 others, but the writer’s favorite recording was Robert Goulet’s 1963 recording for its dramatic delivery and his climatic “Pray for peace, people everywhere.” Listeners still find inspiration in the moving music and lyrics to this song.
4.Mary Did You Know?-This touching song was written by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene in 1984 as part of an Advent program for their church. Lowry had been thinking about Mary’s knowledge of her special son’s birth and decided to focus this inspiring song on that message.
5.Handel’s Messiah-For many people it would not be Christmas without hearing or singing along to this historic and inspirational Christmas music. The Messiah is an oratorio by George Frederic Handel that he composed in the summer of 1741 and premiered in Dublin on the 13 April 1742; Messiah is undoubtedly Handel’s most famous creation. The very well known chorus, Hallelujah, is part of Handel’s Messiah
6.O Holy Night-This carol may be the most inspiring Christmas song ever. Listeners experience a thrill while listening to the dramatic music and note reaching pinnacle in this song. Written by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure in 1847 after he was asked by the parish priest to write a poem for Christmas. Despite being a wine seller by trade he agreed and wrote the beautiful words of the hymn. For the music he approached his friend Adolphe Charles Adam. Adolphe had attended the Paris conservatoire and went on to forge a brilliant career as a composer.
7.Joy to the World-This triumphant song heralds the Christ child’s birth. Isaac Watts wrote this unforgettable carol all the way back in 1719.
8.Angels we have heard On High-This song is one of the best-known French carols. Some musical experts believe it dates from the 18th century, but the earliest documented appearance is 1855. There are also numerous English versions that have appeared with this tune, but all evidently stem from the same unknown source.
9.Gloria in Excelsis Deo-This Christmas carol is a newly discovered work by Handel and was found at the Royal Academy of Music’s library. The manuscript was not in Handel’s hand but bound in a collection of Handel arias owned by singer William Savage. Handel may have composed it during his early years in Germany prior to his departure for Italy. It is truly inspiring work.
10.We Three Kings-This robust and melodic song was written by Reverend John Henry Hopkins in 1857. Reverend Hopkins wrote both the words and the music to this inspiring song that is still being sung 170 years later.