Here are some of my favorite Christmas carols and songs.
1. Silent Night
"Silent Night" (the most popular of all Christmas carols) was first written as a poem in Germany in 1816 by a young priest named Joseph Mohr who was assigned to an Austrian pilgrimage church. The church organ was too rusted to play for the 1818 Midnight Mass so Mohr asked his friend Franz Gruber (a local teacher) to compose a tune. Mohr and Gruber sang the song together, with Gruber playing a guitar. The piece might been forgotten except that a visiting musician took the music and it grew in popularity as it was played throughout Austria & Germany.
2. Away in a Manger
The song was first published with two verses in an Evangelical Lutheran Sunday School collection, Little Children's Book for Schools and Families (1885), edited by James R. Murray (1841–1905), where it simply bore the title "Away in a Manger" and was set to a tune called "St. Kilda," credited to J.E. Clark.
For many years the text was credited to the German reformer Martin Luther. Research has shown, however, that this is nothing more than a fable. In the book Dainty Songs for Little Lads and Lasses (1887) it bears the title "Luther's Cradle Hymn" and the note, "Composed by Martin Luther for his children, and still sung by German mothers to their little ones." A possible reason for the spurious attribution to Luther is that the 400th anniversary of his birth was in 1883. The words were either based on a poem written for this anniversary or were credited to Luther as a clever marketing gimmick. This song has never been found in Luther's works. The first half of the melody is identical to the beginning of the second theme of Waltz #4, transposed down a fourth, in G'schichten aus dem Wienerwald, Op. 325 by Johann Strauss Jr., composed 19 years earlier.
The third stanza, "Be near me, Lord Jesus" was first printed in Gabriel's Vineyard Songs (1892), where it appeared with a tune by Charles H. Gabriel (simply marked "C"), thus these words are probably by Gabriel. Gabriel credited the entire text to Luther and gave it the title "Cradle Song." This verse is sometimes attributed to Dr. John McFarland, but since the popular story dates his contribution to 1904 (postdating the 1892 printing by 12 years), his contribution is highly questionable.
3. What Child is This?
4. Jingle Bells
5. Here Comes Santa Clause
6. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause
7. White Christmas
8. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
And I could go on and on.
Do you have any favorites you'd like to mention?
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL