The Songs of Christmas

22 December 2009

The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) identified the most requested and most played Christmas songs of 2006 and listed them here: http://www.ascap.com/press/2006/112706_xmassongs.html

Out of curiosity, I performed some research on and analysis of the songs to determine their content.  The goal was to determine if Christ is really the focus of Christmas and the songs that are most often sung as part of the celebration.

If you want to skip all the details you can just cut to the chase.

Here are the ASCAP most popular Christmas songs:

1) The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
Written by: Mel Tormé, Robert Wells
Performed by: Nat "King" Cole
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/the-christmas-song-lyrics.htm

2) Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Written by: Ralph Blane, Hugh Martin
Performed by: The Pretenders
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/have-yourself-a-merry-little-christmas-lyrics.htm

3) Winter Wonderland
Written by: Felix Bernard, Richard B. Smith
Performed by: Eurythmics
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/winter-wonderland-lyrics.htm

4) Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
Written by: Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie
Performed by: Bruce Springsteen
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/santa-claus-is-coming-to-town-lyrics.htm

5) White Christmas
Written by: Irving Berlin
Performed by: Bing Crosby
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/white-christmas-lyrics.htm

6) Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
Written by: Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne
Performed by: Andy Williams
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/let-it-snow-lyrics.htm

7) Jingle Bell Rock
Written by: Joseph Carleton Beal, James Ross Boothe
Performed by: Bobby Helms
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/jingle-bell-rock-lyrics.htm

8 ) Little Drummer Boy
Written by: Katherine K. Davis, Henry V. Onorati, Harry Simeone
Performed by: The Harry Simeone Chorale & Orchestra
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/little-drummer-boy-lyrics.htm

9) Sleigh Ride
Written by: Leroy Anderson, Mitchell Parish
Performed by: The Ronettes
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/sleigh-ride-lyrics.htm

10) Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
Written by: Johnny Marks
Performed by: Gene Autry
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/rudolph-the-red-nosed-reindeer-lyrics.htm

11) It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
Written by: Edward Pola, George Wyle
Performed by: Andy Williams
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/it's-the-most-wonderful-time-of-the-year-lyrics.htm

12) I'll Be Home For Christmas
Written by: Walter Kent, Kim Gannon, Buck Ram
Performed by: Vanessa Williams
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/i'll-be-home-for-christmas-lyrics.htm

13) Silver Bells
Written by: Jay Livingston, Ray Evans
Performed by: Kenny G
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/silver-bells-lyrics.htm

14) Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree
Written by: Johnny Marks
Performed by: Brenda Lee
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/rocking-around-the-christmas-tree-lyrics.htm

15) Feliz Navidad
Written by: José Feliciano
Performed by: José Feliciano
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/feliz-navidad-lyrics.htm

16) Blue Christmas
Written by: Billy Hayes, Jay W. Johnson
Performed by: Elvis Presley
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/blue-christmas-lyrics.htm

17) Frosty The Snowman
Written by: Steve Nelson, Walter E. Rollins
Performed by: The Ronettes
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/frosty-the-snowman-lyrics.htm

18) A Holly Jolly Christmas
Written by: Johnny Marks
Performed by: Burl Ives
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/holly-jolly-christmas-lyrics.htm

19) It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas
Written by: Meredith Willson
Performed by: Johnny Mathis
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/it's-beginning-to-look-a-lot-like-christmas-lyrics.htm

20) I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Written by: Tommie Connor (PRS)
Performed by: John Mellencamp
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/i-saw-mommy-kissing-santa-claus-lyrics.htm

21) Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)
Written by: Gene Autry, Oakley Haldeman
Performed by: Elvis Presley
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/here-comes-santa-claus-lyrics.htm

22) Carol Of The Bells
Written by: Peter J. Wilhousky, Mykola Leontovich
Performed by: John Tesh and the Christmas Symphony Orchestra
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/carol-of-the-bells-lyrics.htm

23) Do They Know It's Christmas? (Feed the World)
Written by: Midge Ure (PRS), Bob Geldof (PRS)
Performed by: Band Aid
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/do-they-know-it's-christmas-lyrics.htm

24) (There's No Place Like) Home For The Holidays
Written by: Bob Allen, Al Stillman
Performed by: The Carpenters
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/home-for-the-holidays-lyrics.htm

25) Santa Baby
Written by: Joan Ellen Javits, Philip Springer, Tony Springer
Performed by: Madonna
Lyrics: http://allchristmaslyrics.com/santa-baby-lyrics.htm

 

Analysis of the songs' content

1) The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality: 1 (kids focused on materialism)
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 2 (Jack Frost, Santa)
pagan celebrations/activities: 1 (Yule)
falsehood: 1 (flying reindeer)

 

2) Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality: 0
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 1 (the Fates)
pagan celebrations/activities: 1 (Yule)

 

3) Winter Wonderland

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality: 0
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 0
pagan celebrations/activities: 0.5 (bells were used to scare away evil spirits)

 

4) Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality: 1 (focus is toys)
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 1 (Santa)
pagan celebrations/activities: 1 (Christmas tree)

 

5) White Christmas

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality: 0
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 0.5 (children listen for sleigh bells… on Santa’s sleigh?)
pagan celebrations/activities: 0.5 (bells were used to scare away evil spirits)

 

6) Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality: 0.5 (kissing between apparently unmarried individuals)
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 0
pagan celebrations/activities: 0

 

7) Jingle Bell Rock

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality: 0
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 0
pagan celebrations/activities: 0.5 (bells were used to scare away evil spirits)

 

8 ) Little Drummer Boy

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0.5 (reference to “the king”)
materialism or immorality: 0
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 0
pagan celebrations/activities: 0

 

9) Sleigh Ride

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality: 0
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 0
pagan celebrations/activities: 0.5 (bells were used to scare away evil spirits)

 

10) Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality: 0
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 2 (Rudolph, Santa)
pagan celebrations: 0

 

11) It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality: 0
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 0
pagan celebrations: 1 (scary stories told around winter solstice)

 

12) I'll Be Home For Christmas

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality: 0
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 0
pagan celebrations: 2 (use of mistletoe, presents on a tree)

 

13) Silver Bells

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality:  1 (shopping for treasures instead of treasure in heaven)
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 0
pagan celebrations: 0.5 (bells were used to scare away evil spirits)

 

14) Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality:  1 (shopping/treasures)
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 0
pagan celebrations: 2 (mistletoe, decking the halls with boughs of holly)

 

15) Feliz Navidad

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality: 0
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 0
pagan celebrations/activities: 0

 

16) Blue Christmas

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality: 0
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 0
pagan celebrations/activities: 1 (Christmas tree)

 

17) Frosty The Snowman

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality: 0
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 1 (Frosty)
pagan celebrations/activities: 1 (magic)

 

18) A Holly Jolly Christmas

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality: 0.5 (mistletoe kissing usually associated with unmarried individuals)
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 0
pagan celebrations/activities: 1 (mistletoe)

 

19) It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality: 1 (kids’ focus on toys)
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 0
pagan celebrations/activities: 1.5 (holly, bells were used to scare away evil spirits)

 

20) I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality: 0.5 (suggested immorality: mommy kissing someone other than daddy)
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 2 (Santa, Santa’s reindeer)
pagan celebrations/activities: 1 (mistletoe)

 

21) Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality: 1 (do good because then you will get stuff)
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 1 (Santa)
pagan celebrations/activities: 0.5 (bells were used to scare away evil spirits)

 

22) Carol Of The Bells

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality: 0
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 0
pagan celebrations/activities: 0.5 (bells were used to scare away evil spirits)

 

23) Do They Know It's Christmas? (Feed the World)

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 1
materialism or immorality: 1 (thank God others are doomed instead of you?)
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 0
pagan celebrations/activities: 0

 

24) (There's No Place Like) Home For The Holidays

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality: 0
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 0
pagan celebrations/activities: 0

 

25) Santa Baby

Mentions of-
Jesus/God/Nativity: 0
materialism or immorality: 7 instances of  materialism, 1 instance of immorality (suggesting unmarried kissing is OK), 1- the tone of the singer is sexually suggestive
pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 1 (Santa)
pagan celebrations/activities: 1 (Christmas tree)
falsehood: 1 (Santa coming down chimneys)

 

Net result out of the 25 most popular Christmas songs:

Mentions of- Jesus/God/Nativity: 1.5 (6%)

materialism or immorality: 18 (72%) pagan/mythical/fictional beings: 11.5 (46%) pagan celebrations/activities: 17.5 (70%) falsehood: 2 (8%)

 

You tell me... what does this say about how the world views Christmas? 

Last modified on 13 December 2018

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