Songs sung in the weeks leading up to Christmas are called Christmas carols. Traditionally, they are songs about the birth of Jesus Christ but other songs are also sung at Christmastime that relate more to the secular features such as Santa Claus and King Wenceslas, as well as other commercialised aspects.
In Roman times, the songs that we would now call Christmas Carols were sung in Latin and, consequently, were barely tolerated by the average person. Over time, these songs passed through several eras of Christian history and were tweaked by great people like Saint Ambrose, Saint Francis of Assisi and Martin Luther. Now, some significant songs mark the spirit of Christmas and are referred to as Christmas carols.
In Australia, shops start playing Christmas music over their sound systems from late November, if not earlier. During December, and more frequently as Christmas Day approaches, carol singers often appear in town centres and streets to bring on the Christmas cheer. Children sing the songs at school and during concerts that often tell the story of Christmas – the birth of Jesus Christ in a stable in Bethlehem.
Some of the most popular carols today are:
- Silent Night
- Away in a Manger
- O Come All Ye Faithful
- Joy to the World
- The First Noel
- Jingle Bells
- Deck the Halls
- Santa Claus is Coming to Town
- Frosty the Snowman
- Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Carols by Candlelight is a custom common in Australia that occurs in almost every town and across every city just before Christmas. This is where people gather together around dusk and into the night on a selected evening close to Christmas to sing Christmas carols. This is usually done by either candlelight or, more commonly now, with battery-operated candles.
Carols by Candlelight is a special time for families to gather together and celebrate Christmas and there are often food stalls and other entertainment before and during the singing to add to the special ‘spirit of Christmas’.
To listen to all your favourite Christmas songs, tune in to Christmas Hope. (Note: this channel is only available during November and December.)