Classic Christmas Songs Over 100 Years Old | Entertainment

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Christmas music has a long and rich history beginning centuries ago with pagan rituals. These traditions evolved with the Nativity coins of Saint Francis of Assisi in the 13th century and survived Puritan rule when many Christmas traditions and celebrations were banned for part of the 17th century.

Traveling minstrels played original songs before the invention of the printing press in 1440, which ushered in an era of lyrics that served as the basis for some of the most beloved Christmas carols. These tunes would be shared in the form of poetry and hymns printed on broadsides. Today Christmas music ranges from silly to revolutionary. Songs range from grandmothers trampled by reindeer to those based on the work of a romantic period poet. Who knew that the catchy melody of Wenceslas, the king with the funny name, is a song respectful of the patron saint of the Czech Republic? Or maybe it would surprise readers to find out that “Silent Night” has been designated as an item of intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO.

These songs we know by heart and hear so often have rich stories rooted in things like war, religion, social reform, and slavery. Stacker compiled a list of Christmas carols released before 1920 and explored the origins of these songs. This list includes Christmas carols, famous instrumentals, popular hymns and spiritual songs from countries around the world. Many of these songs were created from a chance collaboration between artists spanning time and space; a clergyman writes a hymn, and years later a composer resuscitates these words and puts them into melody.

It’s no surprise, then, that what people consider Christmas classics to be some of the most covered Christmas carols of all time. “Silent Night,” for example, had 137,315 records, according to a 2017 Billboard report.

Read on to learn about the rich stories behind some of the most beloved Christmas carols, over a century old.

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