About the Author

Tsh Oxenreider is the author of Notes From a Blue Bike and the founder of The Art of Simple. She's host of The Simple Show, and her passion is to inspire people that 'living simply' means making room for more of the stuff that really matters, and that the right,...

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  1. Tsh,
    I loved this! I had to smile when I read about the 15 year old calling worship “atrocious”…where have I heard that before? Anyway, I wish I had the comeback line of the pastor that if you don’t like it give me something better and “Joy to the World” was born. Knowing the story behind the carols lets me enjoy singing them even more than before. I like “Joy to the World” even more now, but my longstanding favorite is “Silent Night”. Thanks Tsh!
    Blessings,
    Bev

  2. Thank you so much for sharing the stories behind the songs. It makes the singing of them all the richer. What I particularly love about the story of Silent Night is the reason behind the use of the guitar. The organ at the Church of St. Nicholas was not working, which threatened the singing (sans accompaniment) at the Christmas Eve service. Isn’t it just like the Lord to make the best of a bad situation? I’m singing Cantique de Noel (The Song of Christmas) this month at church, and it’s likely my favorite Christmas solo. Thank you for sharing the beautiful background behind it, and it’s also proof that God can use us all to share His truth–a socialist and a Jew. I particularly love singing it in French, and including the English translation, which is different from our English version. Thanks again for sharing, and Merry Christmas!
    Lynn

    • I too feel that “O Holy Night” is one of the most inspiring and awesome songs I hear at Christmas. Even now I can hear the chorus in my heart. I worship the Lord for His great sacrificial love for us in giving His Son in order that we might know God and be His adopted sons and daughters.

  3. These are some of my most favorite songs. Their history is so rich and interesting…thanks for doing the research. 🙂

  4. Tsh, this was SO fun to read!! I’m a big fan of old hymns, and with Christmas being my favorite section of the hymnal, I loved finding out more history behind some of my favorites. Also, I blame you for my opening up a Spotify account =) Thanks for giving me three great stations to follow!

  5. My favorite has always been O Come, O Come Emmanuel since I heard it sung in the most awesome soprano voice when I was a child… It still brings tears to my eyes because of that one time!! Some 40 years later.

    I also like God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen sung in deep voices. =) We like to play with that one at home and see who can do the deepest voice the longest.

    Thanks for the wonderful history behind these songs.

  6. Very cool, Tsh! My family attends a contemporary church service these days, but there is something about these old classic carols in a traditional sanctuary. Especially when they are sung with strings or brass, it just means Christmas to me. Now to know these stories too just makes it that much more special.

  7. I didn’t know that Silent Night was first done on guitar! For years, I played guitar with my family (as in all five of us played parts together) on Silent Night for our Christmas Eve service. We played in the background while everyone lit their candles, and once the candles were all aglow, we all sang the verses together. It was beautiful. And now that memory is extra special.

  8. What a beautiful post. O come O come Emmanuel and O Holy Night are two of my favourites. It was so lovely reading the stories behind them. So wonderful. I love hymns so much.
    Thank you Tsh.
    For those who like instrumentals, found this on youtube O come O come Emmanuek by The Piano Guys
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO7ySn-Swwc

  9. I respect anyone who respects Sufjan and his Christmas arrangements. His Joy to the World is perfection.

    I think you might like The Brilliance’s Advent albums if you haven’t heard them (Michael Gungor’s brother, David + Gungor’s amazing pianist, John Arndt). Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 are both on Spotify, and they came out with a “B-sides” a few days ago. Here’s a sample: http://thebrilliancemusic.bandcamp.com/track/joyful-joyful

    They actually even do a Joy to the World that’s based off of Sufjan’s version. I’m assuming they asked permission. But like I said, I respect anyone who respects Sufjan. 😉

  10. Love this! Thank you for the history. Also, if anyone is interested there is a wonderful film-Joyeaux Noel. It is based off the story behind O Holy Night’s impact during Christmas Eve on the war lines of French and German soldiers. We watch it every Christmas.

  11. Thank you, Tsh! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve fallen in love with O Come O Come Emmanuel, especially singing it at the beginning of Advent.
    Another favorite is Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. The version from Red Mountain Music on the album “Silent Night” is excellent!

  12. I love all the really old stuff: Of The Father’s Love Begotten; Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming; The Coventry Carol; The Holy and the Ivy.

    O Holy Night always zings me.

    And then there’s Mary’s Boy Child, which, as a child I sometimes thought was called Hally Corcut or Mary’s Pork Chop!

  13. Tsh,

    Thank you thank you thank you for researching and getting the background on these songs. I love it when God uses music to calm angry souls–especially during war times.

    It was 1914 during World War I when fighting was fierce. German troops began putting Christmas trees out in front of their trenches. They began singing Christmas Carols and back & forth Germans, French and English all sang songs and decided to declare a truce until after Christmas. This became known as Silent Night.

    On another note–I love the song Silent Night so much that I did sign language to it this morning at church. It was done on harmonica with a few other instruments no words. People loved it.

    I love learning the background to song. Thanks for doing this research!

    God bless and have a Christ-filled Christmas!

  14. So powerful!
    O Holy Night has been my favorite and the history of it now makes me love it all the more. Thanks!