12 beautiful Christmas carols for children

3 December 2020, 12:34

Christmas carols for children
Christmas carols for children. Picture: Getty

From the beautifully simple ‘Away in a Manger’ to the ultra-festive ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’, these carols are all guaranteed to send your kids into Christmas mania.

Looking for some traditional carols to get your kids in the Christmas spirit? These are undoubtedly the most perfect festive songs for children.

  1. Silent Night

    Who can resist this stunning melody? Simple but moving, it’s the perfect choice for a children’s choir. Originally written in German, ‘Stille Nacht’ was composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber with lyrics by Joseph Mohr.

  2. Mary’s Boy Child

    ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ was written as a Christmas song in 1956 by Jester Hairston, a leading figure in African American spirituals and choral music. Boney M coined it as a pop-gospel track, but now, it’s more often performed as a carol.

  3. Away in a Manger

    This late 19th-century carol is hugely popular with children. The melody, originally composed in 1837 by Jonathan E. Spilman and adapted in 1895 by William J Kirkpatrick, has become a nativity play staple.

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  4. Ding Dong! Merrily on High

    With celebratory bell-ringing and a cheery chorus of ‘Gloria’s’, it’s actually impossible to dislike this wonderfully festive carol. The tune first appeared as a secular dance tune, in a book on dance written by Jehan Tabourot.

  5. The Twelve Days of Christmas

    Another nativity staple, this is the perfect performance piece for a children’s choir – especially if someone is willing to sacrifice their dignity and dress up as a partridge in a pear tree.

  6. Good King Wenceslas

    This heart-warming carol is based on the life of Wenceslas, Duke of Bohemia, who became a martyr after being killed by his wicked brother, Boleslaw the Bad. Dark history aside, this carol has a simple melody and a relatively limited range, making it an obvious choice for kids.

  7. Carol of the Bells

    The recent popularity of ‘Carol of the Bells’ is probably down to that beautiful arrangement by John Williams, which he composed for the family Christmas staple Home Alone (1990).

  8. While Shepherds Watched

    Dating back to 1700, ‘While Shepherds Watched’ describes the moment in Luke, chapter two, when the angels tell a group of shepherds about the birth of Jesus. Just keep an eye on the lyrics… otherwise you might end up singing a song about shepherds washing their socks.

  9. Deck the Halls

    What could be more joyous than singing endless runs of ‘fa la la la la’? The melody to ‘Deck the Halls’ is Welsh and dates back to the 16th century. It originally belongs to a winter carol, ‘Nos Galan’.

  10. The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy

    A West Indian carol that originated in Trinidad, this song became popular when Harry Belafonte recorded it in 1958. It's wonderfully jolly with a catchy syncopated beat, making it a great choice for children.

  11. We Wish You a Merry Christmas

    Unless you choose the insane choral arrangement that forces the soprano section to get friendly with their top Bs, this popular English carol is the perfect choice of Christmas music for a kids' choir.

  12. We Three Kings of Orient Are

    John Henry Hopkins Jr. wrote this hearty carol in 1857, for a Christmas pageant in New York City. He wrote it so that three male voices would each sing a verse by themselves, corresponding with the three kings – but the melody also works beautifully in unison.