Christmas is the festival of joy, goodwill and celebration. The angels were the first to sing and announce the arrival of baby Jesus. Thence onwards the system of Christmas poems has been established. This wonderful celebration has remained an infinite source of poetic inspiration and intense religious feelings. Several stories, poems and songs have been composed to cherish the Christ child, to stir up feelings of wonder, admiration and to remind us of the tale. Christmas poems were entertaining but spiritual.
Initially they were not accompanied with music hence they did not become very popular. The most famous of the Christmas Poems listed is "Twas the Night Before Christmas" by Clement Clarke Moore which was traditionally read to children on Christmas Eve. But when the songs were put to music they became famous as Christmas Carols! Hence we find many carols which were originally composed for Christmas poems but when music was added they became Christmas Carols. Traditional Christmas poems were written as early as in the 14th century.
In the early 16th century John Donne wrote a very fine Christmas poem which he named Nativity. The very famed Henry Wordsworth Longfellow has composed two most excellent poems-"Christmas Bells" and "The Three Kings. Other great literary figure G.K .Chesterton is famous for his poetic work A Christmas Carol. Hans Christian Andersons short story The Little Match Seller is also included among the Christmas poems.
Here are a few of the great Christmas songs penned by great literary figures:
1A Christmas Carol a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
2 Christmas Bells by H.W. Longfellow
3 Marmion a Christmas poem by Sir Walter Scott
4 Minstrels by William Wordsworth
5 Mistletoe by Walter De La Mare
6 In the holy Nativity of our lord by Richard Crashaw
7 Christ Nativity by Henry Vaughan
8 The Burning Babe by Robert Southwell
9 Ceremonies for Christmas by Robert Herrick
10 Ring out, wild bells by Lord Tennyson
11 The oxen by Thomas Hardy
12 The Little Match Seller by Hans Christian Anderson
13 Christmas at Fezziwigs Warehouse by Charles Dickens
Christmas carols are synonyms with this festival. Just as one cannot imagine Yuletide without the Xmas tree, gifts and Santa Claus, Christmas Carols too are indispensable.
The word carol is derived from the French term caroller which means dancing
around in circle.Gradually music and lyrics were added and thus originated the modern Christmas carol. St.Francis of Assisi was the pioneer to introduce this custom of carol singing in the church. The hymns are based on Christian lyrics and relate mainly to the Nativity. The vivacity and thumping music enhance their beauty and popularity.
Two most admired hymns for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are Silent night, holy Night and O come all Ye Faithful.
Some of the well-known Christmas carols are:
Joy to the world
Away in a Manger Oh Come, All Ye Faithful
Rudolf the Red nose Reindeer Silent night
Jingle Bells Good King Wenceslas
Two most admired hymns for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are Silent night, holy Night and Good King Wenceslas
It is presumed that on the eve of Christmas in 1818, the organ of Saint Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, Bavaria, was inoperative. There was no way to get it rectified before the midnight Mass. Therefore the priest and organist of the church composed this beautiful hymn in just two hours! The carol was sung to the accompaniment of a guitar.
Silent night, Holy night,
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child!
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace
Good King Wenceslas
This is a Christmas carol but it is not sung in church services. It narrates the story of a king and his page and of their great effort to give food to an impoverished family. Hence it conveys a deep Christian message-charity. Wenceslas was a saintly Catholic king of Bohemia in the 10th century. This carol is sung on Christmastime because it is believed that the incident took place on 26th December, the Feast of Saint Stephen.
Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even;
Brightly shone the moon that night
Thought the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight
Gathering winter fuel
Several Christmas traditions are of relatively recent origin. Santa Claus and the beloved reindeer have no relation to Christmas carols .Yet they are most popular and cherished by all. The most attractive feature of the carols are its energetic and lyrical notes. Who is not familiar with Jingle Bells jingle Bells, Jingle all Way or Rudolf the Red nose Reindeer had a very Shiny Nose. One never tires or bores singing loud and clear the lively carols. The cache of carols are inexhaustible and throughout the Twelve days of Christmas people simply love to sing. The grand finale is of course Wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Why Do People sing Christmas songs and carols .
Christmas time is the season of goodwill when everyone loves to rejoice and send their beloveds and friends- gifts and greetings. Besides the traditional Christmas poems and carols a number of personal songs have been composed. The number increases every year. There are special songs for friends, husband, wife, beloved, uncle, aunt, sons and daughters and many more. There are love poems, spiritual poems and some funny ones too. People love to sing them and that too with full throated ease. Maybe it is a way for families and friends to reflect on the joy and miracles of the Advent and Christmas. In many families the members come together and sing carols thus strengthening emotional ties. Some people form groups from their neighborhood and sing carols before the houses. Apart from singing praises to the Lord, the fact that people come together is of great significance and joy.
Even though Christmas Carol singing has been in vogue from centuries these songs remain fresh and cheerful even today. People love to sing every year.