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Songs Filled with Christmas Cheer

Updated on January 6, 2016

Christmas has to be the most magical time of the year. It is filled with tradition, fun times with friends and family, and memories of Christmases past. One of the things that help to create the magic are the songs of Christmas. It can help set a mood and help you remember a great time you had or get you pepped up for the times ahead.

Here are some Christmas songs that will fill you with cheer and help you spread that holiday spirit. These songs are a festival for the ears.

Traditional songs

The English have so many great traditional songs that set the mood for celebrations ahead.

The first great song that comes to mind is God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen you would never guess that this song was written in the 16th century. It has a timelessness to it and an important message to the meaning of the holiday. The song tells the story of the birth of Jesus. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen let nothing you dismay. How beautiful is that lyric? The tune itself is so catchy you can’t help but want to sing or hum along. The song has been performed by many artists some of the best versions have been done by Perry Como, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Mariah Carey, and an instrumental version by Mannheim Steamroller. All versions are a joy to listen to.

Deck the Halls is a song also from the 16th century. It is a Welsh carol and every Christmas tree should be decorated listening to this song. The song is bouncy and fun. The lyrics invite the listener to join in on the celebration of Christmas by decking the halls with boughs of holly, and the fa la la la la , it is hard not to sing along to those lyrics. The perfect song to set the tone for the season. This song has been done by Nat King Cole, James Taylor, and John Denver with the Muppets.

Good King Wenceslas this song was written in 1853 and it is a song that is about a Czech King who goes out to help a peasant on the Feast of Stephen, which is the day after Christmas. It is a fun song to try and sing along with. The song is based on Wenceslas he later became martyr and a saint and this song tells his story on that day of the Feast of Stephen. This song has been performed by Bing Crosby, Mannheim Steamroller, and it was even sung by Sheldon, from the Big Bang Theory, keeping the song alive for future generations to discover and enjoy.

Twelve Days of Christmas song was published in England in 1780. It is thought to be French in origin. The song is cumulative with verses going forward and backward stating the many gifts that are being given to that lucky person in the song. The twelve days of Christmas were thought to start on Christmas Day and then go on from there to the day before Epiphany or the feast of the Epiphany January 6th or in this case the twelfth day of Christmas. According to Hugh D. McKellar, who wrote an article in 1979 entitled “How to Decode the Twelve Days of Christmas “the lyrics were intended as a catechism song to help young Catholics learn their faith. Catholicism from the 1500’s to the 1800’s was not allowed in England. This song is so much fun to sing and to see how great your memory can be with so many verse. It has been recorded by John Denver and the Muppets, Perry Como, Burl Ives, and Roger Whitaker to name a few. Each has done a remarkable job in keeping with the spirit of the song.

Here We Come a Wassailing another great English carol written in 1850. What is wassailing you may ask? It is singing carols door to door and wishing good health which is the essence of the holiday time. Reader’s Digest said that during the Christmas season the rich were feeling more generous than usual. The beggars and orphans would dance through the streets offering to sing good cheer. They would sing and ask if they could drink from the wassail bowl that contained hot ale or beer along with apple, spices and mead. They might also ask if they could have some pork pie or be allowed to stand by the fireplace to warm up. This classic has been done by Perry Como, and Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. This song will warm your bones as well as any fireplace can.

I Saw Three Ships this song is a variant of the song Green sleeves and it began in the 17th century. The three ships in reference may refer to the relics of the biblical magi to Cologne Cathedral in the 12th century. It could also have something to do with King Wenceslaus II who was the King of Bohemia and his coat of arms. This song has been recorded by Sting, Nat King Cole, The Carpenters, Glen Campbell and many others. It has that Renaissance sound, and the melody and lyrics prove that a popular song will last forever.

Modern Christmas songs

Leaping ahead to modern Christmas tunes it easy once more to find songs that bring that cheery holiday feeling each time they are heard.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town was written in 1934 by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie. It was performed on the Eddie Cantor radio show and it was a sensation. The song has a groove and is about the big man himself. Singers must love to perform this song because there is no shortage of singers who have recorded this song. It has been done by Perry Como, Mariah Carey, Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble and many, many more. It Is a song that is easy to sing along to and it was also performed in the movie Elf, by people trying to get the Christmas spirit up and it worked of course there never should have been any doubt with a song such as this.

Holly Jolly Christmas was written by Johnny Marks in the early 1960’s and it appeared in the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer special. It was performed by Burl Ives. This song too is extremely popular and how can it miss with lyrics like “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas it’s the best time of the year, I don’t know if they’ll be snow but have a cup of cheer.” The song has been done by Burl Ives, Michael Buble, Lady Antebellum, Alan Jackson, and Johnny Mathis. This song is a must to sing along to.

It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas was written by Meredith Wilson in 1951. The song is like taking a walk through town and observing all the decorations going up, all the toys in the stores, but more importantly the decorations in your own home. It is a song that has been performed by Perry Como, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, and Harry Connick Jr. The song will help you feel that wonderful feeling you can get when you see the beginnings of the season that seems to fly by much too quickly. It is a song that lets you step back a bit and enjoy all the peace that can be with the season instead of the chaos.

What Christmas Means to me was written by Allen Story, Anna Gaye, Anna Gordy Gaye, and George Gordy. It is a song of love during the holidays along with the familiar themes of Christmas, snow, choirs, mistletoe, candles all of which adds up to the merriest feelings of joy for the holiday season. This song was done first by Stevie Wonder. It has since been done by Fantasia, and Cee lo Green. It is the perfect soundtrack to your holiday celebrations.

Sleigh Ride was written interestingly enough in July during a heat wave in 1946 it was finished in February 1948. It was written by Leroy Anderson. Arthur Fielder and the Boston Pop Orchestra recorded it in 1949. This song is quite popular and is almost always included in Christmas performances. In 1950 lyrics were added to make it a song about a person who wants to have that sleigh ride with a special someone. The song is so infectious it makes us all want to join in on this sleigh ride. The song has been performed by Ella Fitzgerald, the Boston Pops, Johnny Mathis and Amy Grant to name a few. Perfect song for the holidays.

Jingle Bells is a very popular song performed during the Christmas Holidays. It was written in 1857 and published under the name “One Horse Open Sleigh”. It is a song that was written originally for the Thanksgiving season. The song was inspired by the sleigh races held in Medford, Massachusetts in the 19th century. This song is loved by many performers and has been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, the Beatles, Elvis Presley and many, many other performers. It is truly a catchy tune and the sounds of the jingle bells add to the holiday mood. It is a song that is easily recognized around the world.

Mele Kalikimaka is a Hawaiian themed Christmas song written in 1949 by Robert Alex Anderson. The words mean Merry Christmas in Hawaiian. Bing Crosby first recorded the song with the Andrew Sisters in 1950. The song lets the listener feel what Christmas is like in a tropical paradise. It has been performed by Jimmy Buffet, Train, and Bette Midler. Movie lovers will remember the song played in the movie Christmas Vacation when Clark Griswold is dreaming of his future swimming pool.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is a classic Christmas song written by Johnny Marks based on a story Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer published by the Montgomery Ward Company. It was sung by Gene Autry and later a television special was created with the same name. The song tells the story of Rudolph how he went from bullied to a hero helping Santa deliver toys during a very foggy Christmas Eve. The rest is history. This song has been performed by Dean Martin, Ray Conniff, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Ray Charles among so many other great singers and performers. It is a cute song that kids young and old know by heart.

May you have a very Merry Christmas and enjoy the holidays with these songs that will fill you with cheer and keep your spirits up for years to come.

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    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 16 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Weeks before Christmas, our house is filled with Christmas songs. I find the carols give me joy in preparing for the holidays.

    • cfjots profile image
      Author

      cfjots 16 months ago from Conway, SC

      Thank you Aesta1. I love Christmas music and listen to just Christmas songs from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Day. The songs fill me with happiness

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 16 months ago from USA

      I'm not ready for the holidays to be over but I guess I will have to wait until next year. There's never enough time to properly enjoy them.

    • cfjots profile image
      Author

      cfjots 16 months ago from Conway, SC

      Hi FlorishAnyway I know exactly what you mean. They seem to go by faster and faster.

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