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Top 10 hymns and songs played in US churches at Christmas

Santa listening to music

Ollyy | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 12/25/22

Pushplay conducted a poll and Aleteia did the leg work, to make available to readers the finest Christmas playlist.

Merry Christmas to Aleteia’s readers!

In 2022, Pushpay, a company that makes it easy and convenient to donate to local parishes online, used their connections with churches around the US to find the most popular Christmas songs. Using their polls, Pushpay made a top-10 list of Christmas songs that get the most play during services and Christmas events around the nation.

While Pushpay put out a list of song titles, they did not provide any artists or particular versions to the list. To remedy this, Aleteia has compiled some of our absolute favorite renditions of the most popular US Christmas songs. Without further ado, let’s dive into the Top 10 Christmas songs used in Church. 

10 – “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

One of the most surprising placements on the list was “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” coming in at number 10. This is one of the oldest Christmas carols, with its roots dating back at least 1,200 years. For this selection we have chosen a version by Tommee Profitt, which we learned of from Aleteia’s own Cerith Gardener, who featured it last year. The modern technology that Profitt brings to the piece makes the lilting, minor melody all the more dramatic. 

9 – “Go Tell it on the Mountain”

This African American spiritual dates back to at least the Civil War era and has always been used as a hymn for the Nativity, although some versions replace the final line of “Jesus Christ was born,” to “Jesus Christ is Lord,” in order to use it in other seasons. For this song, we selected a rendition sung by legendary vocalist Mahalia Jackson. Jackson was integral in the development and popularization of the blues and Gospel music and she is considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. 

8 – “Goodness of God”

One of two surprising inclusions to the list, as it is not particularly a Christmas song. Released in 2019 by Bethel Music, this song has already grown to become a favorite among the faithful, with Bethel’s live video garnering over 81 million views. While it is not a song of the season, it is still an overtly Christian tune that is faithful in its lyrics and easy on the ears. 

7 – “Glorious Day” 

Another surprising inclusion to a list of Christmas songs, “Glorious Day” is a modern song from the faith band Passion. The lyrics speak more about finding one’s faith and the promise of the resurrection than about the birth of the savior. Still, it is a faithful song of praise that contains an immensely jubilant energy. We will note that we are curious how it would sound played in a local parish, as it is much more of a rock anthem than a church song. 

6 – “Angels We Have Heard on High” 

No list of Christmas songs would be complete without at least one appearance from Andrea Bocelli. Here, he sings the 19th-century hymn beside a full choir and orchestra, with David Foster at the piano. This recording is from 2009, when Bocelli performed at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles.

5 – “Joy to the World” 

Deciding which Christmas song to highlight with Pentatonix was a difficult choice, as the a cappella group has reimagined just about every carol under the sun. In the end “Joy to the World” was the natural choice, since the song is all about spreading joy and Pentatonix’s rendition is about as energetic and joyful as one could want. The group uses their signature vocal effects and beatboxing to really make the song their own. 

4 – “The First Noel”

It’s really hard to believe that Josh Grobin’s Christmas album is 15-years-old, but it’s still a solid choice for anyone’s Christmas playlist. His rendition of “The First Noel” performed alongside Faith Hill is one recording in particular that has stood the test of time. It takes a little while to get started, but once it’s moving, the pair bring it to life with exceptional harmonies and a to-die-for Gospel choir. 

3 – “Silent Night”

Recorded in 2022 at Fr. David Michael Moses’ “The Great Big Christmas Show,”Fr.Rob Galea put on a stupendous show with this fresh rendition of “Silent Night.” Galea is supported by Alyssa Agius on keyboard and backup vocals. These two make such an excellent duo, as their voices meld fantastically. They even brought in a brand new melody for a compelling bridge section with beautiful high notes. 

2 – “O Come All Ye Faithful” 

“O Come All Ye Faithful” is a Christmas song that lends itself well to large choirs, full orchestras, and all the bombast a conductor can muster. These renditions are good, but few can compare to the imaginative and expansive chords injected into this carol by Chanticleer. Each verse in this choral masterpiece takes different liberties with the melody. This has been a long time favorite of ours and we suspect it’s soon to be one of yours as well. 

1 – “O Holy Night” 

Topping off the list is “O Holy Night,” the most popular Christmas hymn to be performed in US parishes. It’s not hard to figure out why, as this timeless French hymn has one of the most compelling melodies in the Catholic songbook. While the high note at the end is usually the draw, today we’re looking at a rendition performed by Kings Return. Aleteia correspondent Sarah Robsdottir gushed about this piece and with good reason. The song has never been performed like this and it’s hard to go back to the original after just one listen. 

Catholic MusicChristian MusicChristmasUnited States
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