Deutsche Weihnachtslieder, or German Christmas carols, include songs that have spanned decades and popular modern songs sung in German. Mix up your holiday playlist with a variety of Christmas carols in German to start a new tradition.
Original German Christmas Carols
These historic Christmas carols were originally written in German by German composers and songwriters, but can often be found in different languages today.
Dedicated to the traditional Christmas tree, O Tannenbaum or O Christmas Tree was written in 1824 by Ernst Anschütz of Leipzig to the tune of an old folk song. O Tannenbaum is an ode to the strength and beauty of the tannenbaum, which is a type of fir tree, using lyrics like "Dein Kleid will mich was lehren/Die Hoffnung und Beständigkeit" ("Your dress wants to teach me something/Your hope and durability"). Check out this moving version sung in German then English by Celtic Woman.
Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht
Sometimes just referred to as Stille Nacht, or Silent Night, the song Silent Night, Holy Night is considered the most popular Christmas carol of all time because of its timeless melody and message about the birth of Jesus Christ. Lyrics include the phrases "Tönt es laut von fern und nah/Christ, der Retter ist da!" which translates to "Heav'nly hosts sing Alleluia/Christ the Savior is born" and were written by Ludwig Franz Mohr in 1816. Singer Helen Fischer has the perfect voice to bring this song to life.
Ihr Kinderlein kommet
A classic German Christmas carol, O Come Little Children was written by Johann Abraham Peter Schulz and songwriter Christoph von Schmid. The title translates to Come Ye Little Children and the song is about kids learning the importance of loving Jesus with lyrics such as "stimmt freudig, ihr Kinder - wer sollt sich nicht freun?" which translates to "Join in joyfully, children - who should not be happy?" Since this is a Christmas song for children, a version sung by a children's choir such as this one from Mainzer Mädchenchor is most appropriate.
Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen
Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming doesn't neccessarily sound like a Christmas carol, but lyrics such as "Aus Gottes ewigem Rat/Hat sie ein Kindlein g'boren," or "To show God's love aright/She bore to them a Savior," show its true meaning. The original writer and composer are unknown, but the common harmony you hear today was written by Michael Praetorius in 1609 VOCES8 is a group of mixed voices that made a modern version of the classic song about the birth of Jesus.
Another German Christmas carol for children is Kling, Glöckchen, or Ring, Little Bell about kids welcoming St. Nikolaus into their homes on St. Nikolaus Day. The fun refrain written by Karl Enslin features the lines "Kling, Glöckchen, klingelingeling!/Kling, Glöckchen, kling!" Sing Kinderlieder has an animated video of this upbeat carol that includes the German lyrics on your screen.
Morgen kommt der Weihnachtsmann
Sung to the familiar tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star the carol Tomorrow Santa's Coming is an upbeat, modern carol for kids and families that was originally called der Wihnachtsmann. German national anthem lyricist, Hoffmann von Fallersleben wrote this carol about the anticipation of Santa with lyrics like "Morgen kommt der Weihnachtsmann/Kommt mit seinen Gaben," or "Tomorrow Santa's coming,/Coming with his gifts." Dutch singer Hein Simons has a nostalgic version that includes a recording of him singing the song when he was a kid mixed with him singing it as an adult.
O du fröhliche
The original version of Oh du fröhliche, oh du selige (Oh how joyfully, oh how blessedly) was written in 1806 by Johann Daniel. The title is now more commonly known as O du fröhliche, or O You Joyful, and the song was originally meant to celebrate three Christian holidays, but it was rewritten by Heinrich Holzschuher as a Christmas carol. Lyrics include "Welt ging verloren, Christ ist geboren/Freue, freue dich, o Christenheit!" or "The world was lost, Christ is born/Rejoice, rejoice, O Christendom!"Listen to an epic orchestra and choir version from WDR Funkhausorchester and WDR Rundfunkchor Köln.
Leise rieselt der Schnee
Softly Falls the Snow starts with the lyrics "Leise rieselt der Schnee,/Still und starr ruht der See" ("Softly falls the snow,/Quiet and frozen rests the lake") then chronicles the falling snow and the coming of the Christ Child. The original lyrics came from a poem penned by Eduard Ebel. Shirin David & David Garrett have a modern version that starts with some rock violin then moves into a traditional carol.
Christmas Songs Sung in German
If you like the classic Christmas carols, but want to find Christmas lyrics that make for a more diverse playlist, you can find popular carols translated and sung in German.
Frosty, der Schneemann
Frosty, the Snowman is a fun children's Christmas carol that chronicles the coming and going of winter by personifying a snowman. Gene Autry was the first to record the son in 1950, but it's now a common carol that's been translated into German. Check out the modern jazz version by Götz Alsmann for an adult twist on this kid's song.
All I Want for Christmas Is You
If you love pop songs in German, Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas is a great modern Christmas carol. It's one of the most popular Christmas songs in Germany with the popular lyric "Alles was ich zu Weihnachten will bist du" or "All I want for Christmas is you."
Have a Very German Christmas
German Christmas music comes in a variety of genres with a variety of topics just like Christmas carols from any other country. Have yourself a multi-cultural Christmas this year by adding some German Christmas songs to your holiday playlist.