We asked our readers about their favorite Christmas carols. Here’s what you said.

Jonah McKeown   By Jonah McKeown for CNA


The Sistine Chapel Choir sings at Westminster Cathedral in London, England, May 6, 2012. / Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk.

Denver Newsroom, Dec 21, 2021 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

Recently, we at CNA conducted a (very unscientific, but nonetheless illuminating) poll of our readers to get a sense of your favorite Christmas carols. And, thanks to the nearly 1,000 of you who voted, the results are in!

If your favorite carol doesn’t appear on this list (mine doesn’t…it’s O Come all Ye Faithful, by the way), don’t fret. The poll in question only asked for readers to pick their favorite out of a list of ten choices. (More on that later.)

And so, without further ado, the results are as follows:

As you can see, the occasionally controversial song “Mary Did You Know” didn’t get a whole lot of love, finishing dead last. “The Little Drummer Boy,” another polarizing Christmas classic, also turned in a rather middling performance, finishing third from last. I don’t think I’ve ever heard either of these played at Mass, nor would I want to, personally.

In contrast, the two carols that took the Gold and Silver medals are both mainstays of Christmas Midnight Masses, in no small part because both of them have “night” in their name.

Speaking of “Silent Night,” our Rome correspondent Courtney Grogan Mares got to hear this classic carol sung in all its glory at the Vatican a couple of years ago. The video she took is really worth resharing:

Bronze went to “Joy to the World,” followed closely by “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” both of which I strongly associate with Christmas Mass during the day.

“What Child is This?” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” both originating from England, finished middle of the pack, as did the American standard of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” “The First Noel,” also English, finished near the bottom.

You may be wondering: How did we determine the 10 choices listed? Well, these were the 10 carols that featured in Spotify’s list of the top 200 songs that users in the United States listened to on December 25, 2020.

Obviously, “Christmas songs” in general dominated that day, but only a small percentage of those songs could be classified as “carols.” For the purposes of this poll, only Christmas songs with an explicitly Christian message were considered. (For example, the top song overall for that day was “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey. Definitely a Christmas song, but definitely not a carol.)

Unfortunately, a look at the “Global” top 200 songs for that day yielded only a handful of carols— too few for our poll. This necessitated a sharper focus, thus the reason we only analyzed the United States.

Anyhow, once the U.S.’ top 10 Christmas carols for Christmas Day 2020 had been ascertained, this week we asked our followers on Twitter to vote on their favorite, out of those 10. Thank you to those of you who did!

Here are the full results:

198 votes for Silent Night

179 votes for O Holy Night

123 votes for Joy to the World

119 votes for Hark the Herald Angels Sing

93 votes for What Child is This

62 votes for God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

56 votes for O Little Town of Bethlehem

55 votes for Little Drummer Boy

52 votes for The First Noel

32 votes for Mary Did You Know

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