The Best (and worst) Christmas Songs

I know the stores already have full on Christmas going on, and some of my friends have even started decorating for Christmas, but we like to wait until the Advent season to start preparing ourselves for the Nativity of our Lord. However, growing up singing in choirs, I have become accustomed to listening to Christmas music starting in November. Ok, I say that, but the truth of the matter is that I love Christmas music so much, I start listening to it as soon as I possibly can without appearing too crazy. The girls and I started listening to Christmas music in the car this week, and we are all thoroughly enjoying it. The older girls beg for it the second we get into the car, and even Wren sings along as we’re listening to it.

I am listing some of my favorites here for your listening pleasure.

My favorites:

1) Handel’s Messiah I can devote an entire post to this one. This is hands down my absolute favorite thing to listen to during the Christmas season. I truly believe that this is the closest thing we have on Earth to how the heavenly choirs must have sounded the night Christ was born. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it was composed by George Frideric Handel in two parts: the Nativity and the Passion. You have probably heard the “Hallelujah Chorus,” which is interestingly enough in the Passion portion even though it is traditionally played at Christmas time. I have pretty much memorized the Nativity part and have practically never listened to the Passion part. I should really remedy that this Easter. Anyway, it is composed of several songs. Some Christmas favorites of mine are “For unto us a child is born,” “And the Glory of the Lord,” and the “Overture.” “There were shepherds abiding in the field” and “Glory to God in the highest” are also spectacular. You can almost hear the angels flying back to heaven after making their proclamation. My old high school chorale (and anyone else who wanted to join) sang the Messiah every year, and it is one of my fondest Christmas memories. I can’t wait to take the girls when they are old enough. Ok, I won’t talk this long about every one, I promise. I have said my piece.

2) Carol of the Bells

3) Christmas Song Obviously the Nat King Cole version is the best. No one can resist those dulcet tones.

4) Bring a Torch Jeannette Isabella

5) Betelehemu This one is a Nigerian Christmas Carol. If you haven’t heard it yet, do yourself a favor and take a listen. It is beautiful. My favorite versions are the Morehouse College Glee Club and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (although they are performed very differently).

6) Coventry Carol Gorgeous lullaby to the Baby Jesus. Now, it might just be because I am usually pregnant, but this one always brings tears to my eyes.

7) In the Bleak Midwinter

8) Baby, It’s Cold Outside I just love this song, even if the lyrics are a little bit creepy.

9) I heard the bells on Christmas Day My dad’s favorite.

10) Little Drummer Boy My mom’s favorite.

11) Do you hear what I hear?

12) Oh Holy Night Just be wary of that high note.

13) All I want for Christmas is you Mariah Carey version, because duh.

14) Lo, How a rose e’er blooming Another gorgeous and underrated Carol.

15) White Christmas My favorite is the Bing Crosby version. There is also a movie that goes along with this song, but for that you will have to stay tuned for the best and worst Christmas movie blog post. (I know you are on pins and needles).

My least favorite Christmas songs: (If one of these comes on over the department store speakers while I am shopping, I will walk right out in protest!)

1) I want a hippopotamus for Christmas

2) Santa Baby Sexy Christmas songs?

3) Here comes Santa Claus The Christmas song that will never end. Also, in the oldie version, the singer spends the whole song saying “Santy Claus.” Yikes.

4) All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth

5) Grandma got run over by a reindeer Here in the South, we have made many worthy contributions to music. This is not one of them.

Well, those would be my favorites (and least favorites.) What are your favorite carols? I am always looking for new ones to add to the list. My Christmas play list is currently only an hour, and we are going to be traveling for two hours this Thanksgiving. Don’t make my poor husband listen to repeats!


About sylcell

Wife, mom of four girls, Catholic, insatiable sweet tooth
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18 Responses to The Best (and worst) Christmas Songs

  1. LorraineTee says:

    #13 Oh my goodness! I love that Mariah song! And I actually quite like Santa Baby. Don’t hate me! 🙂


  2. Love your list if favorites…one of my favorites (many of them were on your list) is the Huron Carol and I just love Chanticleer’s version:


  3. morgan says:

    I don’t like Christmas songs (the ones on the radio) too much. And / or I don’t remember that many.
    I like that old “Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!” song.

    So, I only have a worst-songs-ever list (not ordered because I just can’t decide)
    – Last Christmas. That’s just *argh* Hoping-for-New-Year-*argh*
    – Jingle Bells. Oh my that one gets stuck in my ear until easter finally comes around!
    – White Christmas.

    Oh and for some reason X-Mas movies make me running for the hills, as well. EXCEPT for “Love, Actually”. I just love that movie. (except that song in it. That’s another *argh*) 😀

    Buuut. There are a lot of christmas carols I love. Most of them are in german, but I think you know “Silent night”. I’m a sucker for that one. It always was the last song of the midnight mass on Christmas eve (which actually takes place at 10 p.m.) in the church I grew up in and they shut off all the electric lights for that song (except the ones on the X-mas tree). The church is dimly lit by the candles on the altar, the 4 candles of the advent wreath, the easter candle, the ones the acolytes are carrying and of course the eternal flame plus the tree candles. Half of the congregation is off-key, the other half is confusing the verses (maybe these halves even overlap ;-)) and all of them are singing about half a second behind the organ player. So for any person with a musical ear it is like “cover your ears and run as fast and far as you can” 😀 but still gave me goose bumps every year. Still does, although travelling to that church that late with the kids is out of question.


    • sylcell says:

      We have a midnight mass as well on Xmas Eve! I miss it, but with the babies it really is impossible:( The candlelight sounds beautiful! We do that for the Easter Vigil.


      • morgan says:

        I LOOOOOVE the Easter Vigil. By far my favorite mass of the whole year. We do have that candlelight for almost the whole easter vigil, too. Everyone has his / her own candle and the light is spread starting with the easter candle that has been lit by the easter fire. Great tradition (and every year someone sets his / her hair on fire…)
        For Christmas it’s only for the last song. On December 25th we sind “Oh du fröhliche” (O, how joyfully – at least that’s what Wikipedia is telling me) and once again everyone is stumbling through the verses, because that one even isn’t in the hymn book 😀

        But again, this year we’ll join the Lutheranian afternoon service with its traditional nativity play. This year my kids will be in the choir for the first time, they just started sunday school (my husband and kids are lutheranian). I’m already excited and also tired of this year’s choice of musical, we just got the CD for rehearsal purposes on sunday and that eve my 4 year old was already bellowing out the lyrics at full volume. Oh my, that’ll be a looong advent 😀


      • sylcell says:

        Awwww adorable! I better see a blog post on that!! Someday we are going to Germany to visit you guys. Our dear friends (one of whom is a German professor at Tennessee University) say Germany is just beautiful during Christmas.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Erin says:

    I love all of Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, but most especially the lullaby and This Little Babe. I also love the Holly and the Ivy, Good Christian Men Rejoice, and Noel Nouvelet. And, just to shake it up, Stan Freberg’s Green Christmas 🙂


  5. keldiaz says:

    I am so on board with enjoying extra time with Christmas music. My faves would be : most of what you had especially carol of the bells, o holy night, and Coventry carol ( I too get tears eyed too- & often preggers during Christmas.) others I’d add Jesu, joy of mans desiring, God rest ye merry gentlemen ( bare naked ladies with Sarah McLaughlin ), similar to A’soulin (Peter, Paul, and Mary) home for the holidays, joy to the world, angels we have heard on high…. Geez I could go on forever. I was in high school and church choirs so I too, am used to starting early- that may have a bearing of the appreciation of all these songs! Hope these give you some new adds to your mix, happy thanksgiving and merry Christmas!


  6. katylady says:

    I love “In the Bleak Midwinter,” it always makes me cry. Annie Lennox’s version is awesome. Handel’s Messiah is in a class all its own, I am really hoping to hear it live this year! Coventry Carol and any of the medieval-ly carols really get me, Medieval Baebes’ Christmas album is our #1 favorite. And all the hymns…my mom was a pianist and our church organist, so we grew up hearing and singing so many hymns, familiar and obscure; Concordia Publishing House has a great album of Christmas hymns. And if you love Bring A Torch, Jeannette Isabella, you probably love Il Est Né, Le Divin Enfant–those two and What Child Is This are my favorites to play on the piano. Favorite to sing, though, is O Holy Night. Another tearjerker!


  7. Alana says:

    I would say a resounding, “Yes!” to most of these. Is it weird I don’t know all of them? Admittedly, I have been fairly ambivalent to “Santa Baby” until reading your post and then remembering my school let two grade seven girls, and fellow classmates, sing this song to a boy at the Christmas concert. Now I feel sick at the memory.
    I would add to this list “Go Tell Them on the Mountain” as one of my absolutely favourites. It always concludes our Christmas mass, and I just love it! There’s also an original my church’s choir sings that is out of this world. But attempting to ‘sing’ it to you by way of this comment won’t exactly get you to fall in love with it too 😛


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