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Popular Christmas Hymns

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Published 21/12/2020
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Recently, we published a blog on how the Coronavirus pandemic will affect Christmas 2020, detailing how this will be a festive season like no other. However, there’s one Christmas tradition which will no doubt endure: hymns.

Hymns are popular in religious circles all year round, but they take on a particular significance around Christmas. In December they even become commonplace amongst those who don’t practice religion, and are seen as a key part of the ‘Christmas spirit’ by many.

In today’s blog, I’m going to cover some of the most popular Christmas hymns and the significance behind them.

Silent Night

Silent night! Holy night!
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child!
Holy infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace!
‘Stille Nacht’ was composed and lyricized in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber and Joseph Mohr. An English translation followed in 1859. The hymn gained infamy for being sung by both British and German troops during the World War One Christmas Day Truce in 1914.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Hark! The herald-angels sing
"Glory to the newborn king;
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled"
The original hymn text was written in 1739 by Charles Wesley. In 1754, George Whitefield adapted it into its familiar version for his ‘Collection of Hymns for Social Worship’ publication.

Joy to the World

Joy to the World; the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let ev'ry heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing.
The most published Christmas hymn in North America, ‘Joy to the World’ was written in 1719 by Isaac Watts. In 1995, Mariah Carey covered the song, an adaptation commonly heard on television and radio during the festive season.

Away in a Manger

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.
Ever-popular in primary school nativity plays, Away in a Manger was originally thought to be the work of German religious reformer Martin Luther. However, it was later concluded that the hymn is of American origin.

Ding Dong! Merrily on High

Ding dong merrily on high,
In heav'n the bells are ringing:
Ding dong! verily the sky
Is riv'n with angel singing
Gloria Hosanna in excelsis!
Gloria Hosanna in excelsis!
First published as a dance tune in a book written by Jehan Tabourot, Ding Dong! Merrily on High was given lyrics in 1924 by George Ratcliffe Woodward.

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog, I hope you found it interesting. For more blogs on similar subjects, please visit
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