30 Traditional Christmas Carols

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Angels We Have Heard On High (Ella Fitzgerald)
Away In A Manger (Johnny Cash)
Coventry Carol (Loreena Mckennitt)
Deck The Halls (Nat King Cole)
Ding Dong Merrily On High (Charlotte Church)
Gabriel's Message (King's College Choir)
Go Tell It On The Mountain (Garth Brooks)
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Annie Lennox)
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (Bing Crosby)
Here We Come A-Wassailing (Kate Rusby)
I Wonder As I Wander (Barbra Streisand)
In Dulci Jubilo (Mike Oldfield)
In The Bleak Midwinter (Sarah Brightman)
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It Came Upon The Midnight Clear (Mahalia Jackson)
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Joy To The World (Aretha Franklin)
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O Come, All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles) (Frank Sinatra)
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O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (Bette Midler)
O Holy Night (Cantique De Noel) (Whitney Houston)
O Little Town Of Bethlehem (Perry Como)
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Once In Royal David's City (Westminster Cathedral Choir)
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Silent Night (Al Green)
Sussex Carol (On Christmas Night) (The Priests)
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The First Noel (Elvis Presley)
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The Holly And The Ivy (Andrew Peterson)
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The Twelve Days Of Christmas (Ray Conniff)
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We Three Kings (The Beach Boys)
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We Wish You A Merry Christmas (Glenn Miller)
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Wexford Carol (Julie Andrews)
What Child Is This? (Greensleeves) (Sarah Mclachlan)

Before the 20th century it was much more straight-forward when it came to Christmas music as traditional Christmas carols was all there was. The secularisation of Christmas is a relatively new phenomenon; copper fastened through technological advances such as recorded music formats like vinyl, CD and digital music files which have introduced many new forms of Christmas music. But despite the competition traditional Christmas carols remain pivotal to our festive music experience. This playlist gathers some of the best traditional carols together in one place with renditions from a collection of choirs, classic Christmas crooners and more contemporary creatives.

One of the oldest carols on our list, 'O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)' was written in the 18th century and has been widely interpreted both by church choirs and well-known artists such as Frank Sinatra and Andrea Bocelli. 'Silent Night', sung here by the ever smooth Al Green, also has a long and glorious history having emerged from Germany in the early 19th century. It was quickly adopted elsewhere and its impact is best underlined by the fact that it became a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage in 2011.

Amongst the other well-known Christmas carols on our list like 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen', 'Away In A Manger' and 'O Little Town of Bethlehem' are some surprises like Kate Rusby's take on 'Here Come A-Wassailing' (also known as 'Here We Come A-Caroling'). This is a carol that hasn't entered the public consciousness to a huge degree, perhaps in part because of the language in the carols title. Wassailing refers to a Wassail bowl which was handed out to the poor members of society back in the 19th century in return for some songs and general Christmas cheer. The bowl contained a random array of warm food stuffs which went down a treat during the cold winter days.

Also little known, but given an lavish retelling by Barbara Streisand in this instance, is 'I Wonder As I Wander' which was written by composer John Jacob Niles in the early 1930's following his travels through (the then) wild Northern California. While you may ask how Mike Oldfield's 'In Dulci Jubilo' slipped onto our playlist, given its huge chords, we'll have to remind you that his composition is a mere interpretation of a traditional Christmas carol of the same name that had its origins in the middle ages. 'In Dulci Jublio' is still widely played in British church services during Christmas and can count on luminaries such as composers Bach and Liszt amongst those who have interpreted it in their own unique way.

Published by SpiritOfXmas |
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