A lot of Christmas songs are peppy and fun, but sometimes it’s nice to slow things down and enjoy the calming beauty of traditional Christmas carols. Many of these carols have been around for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Each has countless variations, but they have always survived from one Christmas to the next. There must be a reason for this, right? The carols themselves are versatile, which means they can be made to appeal to just about any audience. Personally, I enjoy the haunting melodies many of these songs offer. Here are some of my favorite versions.
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“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” – The Piano Guys
I have a personal connection to this song because of my choir days. It’s actually more of an Advent song than a Christmas carol, but I really wanted to include it. This version by The Piano Guys features a single piano and a single cello. I’m not exaggerating when I say this heart-rending arrangement might possibly be the most beautiful version of this song I’ve ever heard.
“The Little Drummer Boy” – The Little Drummer Boy
This is another song I have a personal connection with thanks to choir, but I actually fell in love with it long before those days. I grew up watching the stop motion Christmas television specials, such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. Among these classics was The Little Drummer Boy, which I really enjoyed watching. The version of the song found in that movie will always be the version I prefer.
“Hark the Herald Angels Sing” – A Charlie Brown Christmas
Watching the Charlie Brown holiday specials is something I look forward to each time a new holiday draws near. A Charlie Brown Christmas has some great Christmas tunes, and their rendition of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” is one I really enjoy. It’s very simple and has a sense of nostalgia.
“Infant Holy, Infant Lowly” – High Street Hymns
Generally speaking, this song is sung or played in a slow, traditional manner. This version, however, speeds things up, which is a nice change. The style of this rendition has a Phil Collins feel to it, and I really like the drumbeat in the background. The guys voice isn’t anything special, but I think that’s what keeps this rendition from being too much. It’s a well-done contemporary twist on one of the most traditional Christmas carols I know.
“Night of Silence/Silent Night” – The Cathedral Singers
“Silent Night” has been a huge part of my life. It’s a wonderful song on its own, but when you add in “Night of Silence” it becomes something even better. I wish I had been introduced to this duet earlier because it absolutely gorgeous. The two songs flow together perfectly, and I love when it’s done as a duet.
As I listened to and wrote about these songs, I realized how many memories are attached to some of them. These songs usually succeed at bringing a smile to my face because of those memories. I’m going to go out on a limb and say I’m not the only one with memories attached to traditional Christmas carols. Perhaps this is another of the reasons they’ve survived all these years.