Candy canes. Sparkling trees. Glittering cards. Nativity scenes. Whether you’re decorating your Christmas tree or baking delicious cookies, your favorite holiday activity would not be the same without the joyful jingle of a Christmas carol. Many Christmas songs, also known as carols, began as poems that describe the wonder of our Savior’s birth.
Let’s take a look at a few of the world’s favorite Christmas carols.
Name That Tune
Read the following clues. Then grab a pencil or pen and fill in the blanks to name that tune!
1. Baby Jesus was placed in a feeding trough for animals. Which Christmas carol has another word for trough in its title? (Hint: It rhymes with danger.)
_________________ in a ______________________
2. Read Luke 2:8-14. What is the name of the Christmas carol that talks about heavenly beings making a great announcement?
____________! The _________________ ________________ Sing
3. The title of this Christmas carol describes a quiet evening.
What’s another word for quiet? ___________________
What’s another word for evening? _________________
4. This Christmas carol talks about happiness on earth because “the Lord is come!”
What is the name of this Christmas carol?
___________ to the_________________
Name That Tune: 1. Away in a Manger; 2. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; 3. Silent Night; 4. Joy to the World
The Stories Behind the Carols
The Christmas carol “Silent Night”was written as a poem by an Austrian priest named Joseph Mohr. In 1818, Joseph Mohr faced a troubling problem—the organ used for playing worship music was broken and could not be repaired in time for Christmas services. Eager to provide music for that evening’s Christmas Eve service, Joseph Mohr took the Christmas poem he had written two years earlier to a friend named Franz Gruber. He asked his friend to write some music for his Christmas poem.
Within a few hours, Franz Gruber had created the tune to “Silent Night” that we know and love today. The music was played on a guitar, and the people of St. Nicholas Church had Christmas music for their evening service after all! Over time, the new carol was sung in churches throughout Europe. Eventually it made its way to North America, and today “Silent Night” is one of the most popular Christmas carols in the world.
Hark! The Herald Angel Sing
This Christmas carol was written by English hymn writer Charles Wesley in 1739. He wrote: “Hark, how the welkin (heaven) rings, glory to the King of kings.” Years later, a man named George Whitefield changed the words of the song to the familiar words we all know today: “Hark! The herald angels sing, glory to the newborn king!”
What do you think the word hark means?
Answer: d) listen
What do you think the word herald means?
a) a messenger bringing news
b) angels singing songs
c) someone who announces that a king has been born
d) a soldier following orders
Answer: a) messenger bringing news
A-Caroling We Go!
This Christmas, invite friends and family to go caroling in your neighborhood! Here are a few tips to remember:
- Always go caroling with an adult.
- Be sure to bundle up if you live in a place with cold temperatures and lots of snow!
- Print out the words of your favorite carols to have with you when you sing.
- Take along some holiday treats or crafts with you to give to the people you sing to.
- When you’re done, have a party. Ask a grown-up to help prepare some hot cider or cocoa and Christmas cookies.
Here’s a cool craft to give away when you go caroling. (Make an extra one for your Christmas tree!)
- two kinds of gold, silver, or copper-colored wire (thicker 18-gauge wire and thinner 24-gauge wire, available at craft stores)
- star-shaped cookie cutter
- thin ribbon
Here’s what you do:
- Wrap the thicker wire around the outside of the cookie cutter once or twice, pressing it firmly to the cookie cutter to make a star shape.
- Remove the cookie cutter and cut the wire. Twist the ends of the wire to the star shape so they don’t come apart.
- Now wrap the thinner wire around the star shape as many times as you like. Twist the ends again when you’re done.
- Loop a piece of ribbon through one point of the star, cut it to the length you want, and tie a knot.
To make this manger scene, you’ll need three empty matchboxes, white cardstock, tape, and markers. Here’s what you do:
- Carefully wrap each matchbox in white cardstock.
- On two matchboxes, draw and color a picture of Mary and Joseph.
- On the third matchbox, draw and color a picture of baby Jesus.
Put them on your mantle or on your kitchen table to remind you of Jesus’ birth.
Write Your Own Carol!
Write a Christmas poem and sing it to the tune of your favorite Christmas carol! Invite your family to sing it with you.
Enjoyed this article?
Don’t miss this week’s must-read articles:
- Tell A Better Story
- ‘Rebirth’ for a Wisconsin Church
- Book review: A Church Called Tov, by Laura Barringer and Scot McKnight