10 German Christmas Songs To Know

Photo of Brienne Pierce
24 April 2017

Almost every culture has a slew of festive harmonies and time appropriate carols to share around the holidays. Traditionally, carols tend to be steeped in religion and pertain to the birth of Jesus. That tradition in Germany dates back to Medieval times when folk songs were suffused with lyrics written by clergymen and then sung at church. The songs acted as tributes to God. Fast-forward to 20th-century secularism and a departure from these pious tunes was born. The carols became less about their religious roots and more about celebrating Christmas in more convivial ways that often had nothing to do with the baby in the manger. Regardless of the tone, Christmas songs can be fun to sing and heighten the jovial spirit of the heartwarming holiday.

Nun sei willkommen Herre Christ

The oldest known Christmas song from the 11th century.

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland

This Christmas hymn translated from Latin is another oldie but goodie.

Meine Seel erhebt den Herrn

Another ancient Latin-inspired religious hymn.

Fröhliche Weihnacht überall

This more joyful and more modern song translates as Merry Christmas everywhere.

O Tannenbaum

Nat King Cole beautifully takes on the German version of Oh Christmas tree.

O du fröhliche

This 1816 Falk and Holzschuher Christmas tune means Oh you joyful in English.

Schneeflöckchen, Weissröckchen

This sweet song translates as little white snowflake, little white coat.

Maria durch ein Dornwald ging

This traditional carol sparks some debate as to whether it dates from the 16th or the 19th century. It refers to the walk Mary took to Elizabeth with her child ‘under her heart.’

Lasst uns froh und munter sein

This song Let us be happy and cheerful is traditionally sung on Nicholas eve.

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht

This cross-cultural classic performed here by the Vienna boys’ choir might sound familiar.

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