How many of Julie Andrews’ ‘favourite things’ in The Sound Of Music revolved around Christmas…

♪♪ Raindrops on roses…

Warm woollen mittens…

Doorbells and sleigh bells…

Brown paper packages tied up with strings…

Silver white winters…

These are a few of my favourite things. ♪♪

Is the season of Christmas one of your ‘favourite things’ as well? Christmas definitely brings up fond memories for us all – holiday season, gifts, decorated trees, plum cakes, pastries, cookies, that nip in the air (or snow if where you live is so blessed!) family time, and what would Christmas be without some uplifting and soulful music – Christmas carols? Those delightful melodies that have been sung over the ages by one and all in the spirit of peace, harmony, and togetherness. 

If you are new to Christmas carols, we have a delightful list of traditional and modern Christmas carols for you to try singing or playing this year. This list is also perfect for children to learn. Maybe your child already goes about your neighbourhood with his/her friends singing carols door-to-door. He/she probably already makes it a jollier and more musical place to live in if so. In which case, see if you can help them out with a few more carols as they go about spreading joy and cheer all around!  

Psst…don’t forget to download the FREE PDF of the sheet music of one of the most popular carols!

1. We wish you a merry Christmas 

If you are in a celebratory mood, this traditional Christmas carol can take you into the festive mood in a trice! 

History: The origins of this carol are not very clear. It is said that it originated when wealthy people of a community gave pudding to carolers, and this used to be part of the famous version of the original song. The phrase ‘Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’ was used in the 18th century. The popular version that we sing today is from the English West Country traditional song composed by composer, conductor, and organist Arthur Warrell. It was performed in 1935.

Fun Fact: Legend has it that the carolers (most probably children) would not leave the houses of the wealthy folk, where they would sing, until they were given Christmas dessert – figgy pudding! This pudding is like plum pudding.

Lyrics:

We wish you a merry Christmas

We wish you a merry Christmas

We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year

Good tidings we bring to you and your kin

We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year

Oh, bring us some figgy pudding

Oh, bring us some figgy pudding

Oh, bring us some figgy pudding

And bring it right here

Good tidings we bring to you and your kin

We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year

We won’t go until we get some

We won’t go until we get some

We won’t go until we get some

So bring it right here

Good tidings we bring to you and your kin

We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year

We all like our figgy pudding

We all like our figgy pudding

We all like our figgy pudding

With all its good cheers

Good tidings we bring to you and your kin

We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year

We wish you a merry Christmas

We wish you a merry Christmas

We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year

2. Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer

Christmas carols are not all just about catchy rhymes and rhythms. This carol has a wonderful lesson for those of us who are different from the rest. Do you feel lonely and left out because you are unlike the rest? Here is a sweet carol that tells the tale of a reindeer that was first ridiculed for being different from all his fellow reindeers, and then respected and revered for just that!  

History: Robert L. May created Rudolph in 1939 as a booklet for a department store in the USA. May’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks adapted the story of Rudolph into a song, sung by Gene Autry, which was released in 1949. 

Fun fact: A study published in the British Medical Journal has found that reindeer really do have red noses. As they live in very cold climates, blood rushes to their noses, giving it a reddish tinge. This is done to regulate the temperature of their brain as well as to prevent the reindeer from freezing during sleigh rides.

Lyrics:

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Had a very shiny nose

And if you ever saw it

You would even say it glows

All of the other reindeer

Used to laugh and call him names

They never let poor Rudolph

Join in any reindeer games

Then one foggy Christmas Eve

Santa came to say

“Rudolph, with your nose so bright

Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

Then how the reindeer loved him

As they shouted out with glee

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

You’ll go down in history”

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Had a very shiny nose

And if you ever saw it

You would even say it glows

All of the other reindeer

Used to laugh and call him names

They never let poor Rudolph

Join in any reindeer games

Then one foggy Christmas Eve

Santa came to say

“Rudolph, with your nose so bright

Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

Then how the reindeer loved him

As they shouted out with glee

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

You’ll go down in history”

3. Santa Claus is coming 

Looking for something lively and fun to shake off the lazy mood you are in? An instant energiser with a fast tempo and piano accompaniment, this is a must-sing fun and lively group song. 

Watch this jolly carol performed by the Thayir Sadam Project.

Log in to Spotify to listen to this and more: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/37i9dQZF1DZ06evO1DuJvD#login 

Learn to sing songs from SaPa’s music experts with Western vocal live classes.

History: It was written by Haven Gillespie and J Fred Coots and recorded in 1934.

Fun facts: This song has been recorded by over 200 artistes including Bing Crosby, which has popularised the song even more.

Lyrics:

You better watch out

You better not cry

You better not pout

I’m telling you why

Santa Claus is coming to town

He’s making a list,

He’s checking it twice,

He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice

Santa Claus is coming to town

He sees you when you’re sleeping

He knows when you’re awake

He knows if you’ve been bad or good

So be good for goodness sake

Oh, you better watch out!

You better not cry

You better not pout, I’m telling you why

Santa Claus is coming to town

He sees you when you’re sleeping

And he knows when you’re awake

He knows if you’ve been bad or good

So be good for goodness sake

4. Jingle bells 

We now come to the most popular of all Christmas carols that almost everyone knows about! Chances are you will hear this song at least once every Christmas. It is, after all, one of the most recorded songs in history. 

Enjoy this fun clip of Jingle Bells by The Thayir Sadam Project!

History: James Lord Pierpont (Uncle of J P Morgan of the bank fame) published the song in 1857 under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh.”

Fun fact: What is not well-known about this Christmas carol is that it was actually composed for Thanksgiving. 

Lyrics:

Dashing through the snow

In a one-horse open sleigh,

O’er the fields we go,

Laughing all the way.

Bells on bob-tails ring,

Making spirits bright.

What fun it is to ride and sing

A sleighing song tonight, oh!

Jingle bells, jingle bells,

Jingle all the way.

Oh what fun it is to ride

In a one-horse open sleigh, hey!

Jingle bells, jingle bells,

Jingle all the way.

Oh what fun it is to ride,

In a one-horse open sleigh.

Now the ground is white,

Go it while you’re young.

Take the girls tonight,

Sing this sleighing song.

Get a bobtailed bay,

Two forty for his speed,

And hitch him to an open sleigh,

And you will take the lead.

Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells,

Jingle all the way.

Oh! what fun it is to ride,

In a one-horse open sleigh, hey!

Jingle bells, jingle bells,

Jingle all the way.

Oh! what fun it is to ride,

In a one-horse open sleigh,

Oh, what fun it is to ride

In a one-horse open sleigh!

Get FREE access to the PDF of the sheet music of Jingle Bells so you can play and sing together!

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5. Little Drummer Boy

A relatively modern Christmas carol compared to the others, this carol never fails to bring on a smile. A favourite carol that children love to sing and play. Non-singers also tend to chime in with the ‘Pa rum pum pum pum’s. It is easy for beginners and children to pick up the lyrics quickly. 

History: This Christmas carol was written by American composer Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941.

Fun Fact: This song has been recorded by various artistes such as Johnny Cash, Richard Marx, and Justin Bieber and received much success and popularity. 

Lyrics:

Come they told me

Pa rum pum pum pum

A new born king to see

Pa rum pum pum pum

Our finest gifts we bring

Pa rum pum pum pum

To lay before the king

Pa rum pum pum pum,

Rum pum pum pum,

Rum pum pum pum

So to honour him

Pa rum pum pum pum

When we come

Little baby

Pa rum pum pum pum

I am a poor boy too

Pa rum pum pum pum

I have no gift to bring

Pa rum pum pum pum

That’s fit to give our king

Pa rum pum pum pum,

Rum pum pum pum,

Rum pum pum pum

Shall I play for you

Pa rum pum pum pum

Pa rum pum pum

Pum pum pum pum

Mary nodded

Pa rum pum pum pum

The ox and lamb kept time

Pa rum pum pum pum

I played my drum for him

Pa rum pum pum pum

I played my best for him

Pa rum pum pum pum,

Rum pum pum pum,

Rum pum pum pum

Then he smiled at me

Pa rum pum pum pum

Me and my drum

6. Deck the halls 

This is an easy and fun traditional Christmas carol. A song for beginners and children with a number of ‘Fa La La’ refrains, a perfect carol if you or your child is shy or just not the singing sorts! It is tough not to want to sing along with this catchy tune

History: This carol has a 16th century Welsh winter melody – Nos Galan; the lyrics to which were written in English by Thomas Oliphant in 1862.

Fun fact: This was not written as a Christmas song. The song Nos Galan is about New Year’s eve. However, the composition by Oliphant set the tone for Christmas.

Lyrics:

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,

Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!

‘Tis the season to be jolly,

Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!

Don we now our gay apparel

Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!

Troll the ancient Yuletide carol

Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!

See the blazing Yule before us,

Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!

Strike the harp and join the chorus.

Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!

Follow me in merry measure,

Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!

While I tell of Yuletide treasure

Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!

Fast away the old year passes,

Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!

Hail the new, ye lads and lasses!

Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!

Sing we joyous all together

Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!

Heedless of the wind and weather,

Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la! 

As Christmas is celebrated all around the world, and also with the passage of time, customs, traditions, and hence carols also will tend to have variations in them. So, if you come across different words and phrases in the carols when you sing them in a group, just go with it!

If you would like to sing these and other popular songs with some expert guidance, you can join Western vocal classes at SaPa. 

We wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Source: Wikipedia.org

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