This is the Oldest Christmas Carol



“Away in a Manger,” “Silent Night,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing…” These songs are probably what come to mind when you think about traditional Christmas carols. However, as classic as these songs are, they’re actually not as old as the first Christmas carol. Christians have been celebrating Christmas since at least 375 A.D. — when the Church first recognized December 25 as Christmas Day — but “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” came more than 1,300 years later in 1739. Joseph Mohr wrote the lyrics to “Silent Night” in 1818, and “Away in a Manger” was written even later in 1882. So what did people sing before these classics? Technically, they sang hymns, not carols. Hymns are more solemn, religious songs, while carols were considered dances accompanied by music. It’s generally accepted that the first Christmas hymn was “Angels Hymn,” which was written in 129 A.D. Now when you hear youngsters call Christmas carols by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra “old,” you can smile to yourself. They don’t even know the half of it.