Whether you turn on the radio, walk down the street, or go into a store you are bound to hear Christmas songs this time of year. There’s something about these standard songs that get us in the holiday spirit and help us enjoy memories of years past. You probably even find yourself humming or singing along to these classic tunes. Here are some of your favorite Christmas carols and the history behind them.
Joy To The World
Here’s a song that everyone knows backwards and forwards. The origins of this song go all the way back to 1719! The lyrics were written by Isaac Watts and Lowell Mason. Some say that the melody was partially based on the work of George Handel, specifically from the Oratorio Messiah.
Little Drummer Boy
Did you know this song was originally called “Carol of the Drums” because of the line “pa rum pum pum pum.” The song “Little Drummer Boy” is believed to have been written by Katherine K. Davis in 1941 based on an old Czech carol. Other names credited for this song are Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone.
Silent Night was originally a German song called Stille Nacht. Written in 1816 by Josef Mohr, this Christmas carol was first performed at the Church of St. Nicholas in Oberndorf, Austria on Christmas day 1818. The original handwritten manuscript was discovered in 1995.
It’s not Christmas without “Jingle Bells”, but did you know this song used to be called “One Horse Open Sleigh.” It was originally meant for a Thanksgiving program for a church in Savannah, Georgia in 1857. People loved it so much they sang it again on Christmas, and well as they say “the rest is history.
O Come All Ye Faithful
This song originally written in Latin become popular in the mid 1700s. It appeared in many minor English hymnals and was later published in a major hymnal in 1852, which brought it to the mainstream.
Originally titled “Tinkle Bell”, this famous carol was first used in a movie titled “The Lemon Drop Kid” starring Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell. It was later recorded by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards and the name was changed to “Silver Bells”.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
What kid doesn’t know “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?” This famous children’s song was based on the story of the same name. Written in 1949 the song was written by the brother-in-law of the author of the story “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The writer of this song, Johnny Marks, also wrote “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”
Probably one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time “White Christmas” was written by Irving Berlin in 1940. It made its debut via Bing Crosby in 1941 on the NBC radio show “Kraft Music Hall.” The song became a huge hit and by the end of October 1942, was on top of the charts. It alao received an Oscar for Best Song in 1942.
There you have it. Now the next time you sing these Christmas carols they’ll have a little extra meaning behind them.