Christmas Music for 2023: Guide to Religious/Traditional Christmas Music and Church Hymns

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We all have a favorite Christmas song (or two.)

Often, it’s a song we remember from our childhood, regardless of whether we first heard it in church, on the radio, or elsewhere.

In 2023, many Christmas songs celebrate the holiday season at surface level, glossing over the religious significance of the day and season.

Plenty of songs embrace the meaning of Christmas. Hallow breaks down where to find traditional Christmas music, where to find it and which hymns you’re likely to hear at Church this year.

Traditional Christmas Music on Sirius XM

On satellite radio available across the country, there are several options for Christmas music, including some channels dedicated explicitly to traditional holiday tunes.

Sirius XM Hallmark Channel 105, the Hallmark Channel, will play many familiar religious Christmas hits. Channel 71, Traditional Holiday Music, also broadcasts some classics.

If you listen to Sirius XM online, there is a bounty of other channels to choose from, including ones dedicated to specific genres of Christmas music, such as Christmas rock and Christmas jazz.

Christmas music on Sirius begins in November and usually ends on December 26 or 27. Sirius then offers a music channel dedicated to New Year’s celebrations before reverting to the standard station lineup after January 1.

Classic Christmas Music on Spotify

Spotify offers plenty of playlists customized toward religious holiday music. Other music services also have playlists and channels geared toward Christian Christmas music:

Keep in mind that not all traditional Christmas music is overtly religious, however. Classics like “Silver Bells” by Bing Crosby have been mainstays for decades but don’t necessarily contain many religious motifs.

Advent and Christmas Music on Hallow

Hallow is excited to partner with new musicians in 2023 to bring to the Hallow app more rich, religious music for your Advent and Christmas seasons.

Listen to beautiful songs from Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, Graduale Project and O’Neill Brothers. The music can aid your prayer life or serve as peaceful background music in your house, helping to provide an element of tranquility to a busy season.

The array of Christmas music available in the Hallow app this year includes:

  • Ben Rector
  • Bocelli Family
  • Matt Maher
  • Source and Summit
  • Ian Mulder
  • Hallow Lofi
  • Benedictines of Mary – Choral Religious Music
  • Graduale Project – Chant
  • O’Neill Brothers – Solo Guitar
  • Keys of Peace – Solo Piano
  • Voces8 – Choral A Capella Music
  • Sean Beeson – Instrumental Music
  • Kat Hammock – Piano and Vocals
  • Rebekah Wu – Chant
  • JJ Wright – Choral Chant
  • The Porter’s Gate – Contemporary Worship
  • The Vigil Project – Contemporary Worship

Traditional Christmas Songs and Hymns on YouTube

Plenty of channels on YouTube offer all different types of Catholic hymns. There are so many options that it can feel a bit overwhelming! In addition to every traditional song you can imagine, YouTube also has children’s Christmas music, which is a little more challenging to find elsewhere.

Some channels will compile multiple songs in a single video. Some videos are as long as 10 hours–nearly a half-day on non-stop Christmas tunes! These longer videos are nice for playing in the background throughout the day, so you don’t have to worry about finding new videos.

Keep in mind that YouTube will automatically pause after a certain amount of time, so you may need to manually restart the songs.

Also, realize that many of these YouTube channels are monetized through advertisements. You might go from hearing Frank Sinatra’s soothing rendition of “Silent Night” to a 30-second high-energy ad for an exercise program immediately after. Total mood shift.

Where to Find Christmas Music on Traditional Radio 

Most cities have at least one station that switches over to full-time Christmas music. Notable exceptions include San Diego. Some cities, like Cincinnati, have more than one station playing Christmas music full-time (Star 93.3 and Warm 98.)

AtlantaThe Fish 104 7
BaltimoreWLIF 101 9
BostonMagic 106.7
CharlotteWKQZ 104 7
Chicago93.9 Lite FM
CincinnatiStar 93.3
ClevelandMajic 105.7
DallasKLTY 94 9
DenverKOSI 101.1
DetroitWNIC 100 3
HoustonSUNNY 99.1
Las VegasSunny 106 5
Los AngelesKOST 103.5
Miami 101.5Lite FM 101 5
MilwaukeeWLDB 93.3
Minneapolis/St. PaulKOOL/108
NashvilleMix 92.9
New York City106.7 Lite FM
OrlandoMagic 107 7
PhiladelphiaWBEB 101 1
PhoenixKEZ 99.9
PittsburghWSH 99.7
PortlandK 103.3
SacramentoMix 96.1
San AntonioQ 101.9
San Francisco/Bay AreaKOIT 96 5
SeattleWarm 106.9
St. LouisKZEK. 102.5
TampaMix 100.7
Washington, D.C.FM, 97. 1
Terrestrial radio stations around the country that play Christmas music

The cities listed above normally make the switch first. Other stations in these markets may play Christmas music exclusively closer to December 25 or add more Christmas songs to their mix closer to December 25.

You will hear some traditional and religious Christmas songs on these stations, but there will be no shortage of secular Christmas hits, like Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”

K-Love Radio, a contemporary Christian radio network that operates in dozens of markets around the country, also has Christmas music in many cities.

List of Traditional Christmas Songs

Most songs that we recognize today as traditional Christmas songs were first written and performed in the 1800s.

“Silent Night,” for example, traces its origins back to Austria in 1816, when a young Roman Catholic priest named Joseph Mohr was inspired by a calm, bright night and penned the song.

Here are some traditional Christmas songs that remain popular today:

  • Silent Night
  • Joy to the World
  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
  • Angels We Have Heard on High 
  • O Little Town of Bethlehem
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • The First Noel
  • O Come, O Come Emmanuel
  • What Child Is This
  • O Come All Ye Faithful

Instrumental versions of many of these songs are also available on YouTube and other music sites.

Although many versions of the songs we know and love are decades old, traditional or religious Christmas music doesn’t always have to sound “old.”

Some current artists blend contemporary, original Christmas music with fresh takes on some of the classics. 

The group Pentatonix has produced versions of “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” while also creating original songs such as “What Christmas Means to Me”. Michael Bublé and Lauren Daigle have also released modern takes on old-school Christmas hits.

Christmas Church Hymns

Whether you’re attending Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve or a liturgy on Christmas Day, you’re bound to hear familiar hymns at Catholic liturgies around the world.

Many churches will welcome people before Mass begins and invite people to sing (or just listen and enjoy) Christmas hymns from the choir.

When the service begins, here’s a breakdown of some songs you may hear. Although songs are different at every parish, these are popular year after year:

Opening hymn

  • O Come all Ye Faith (sometimes some verses sung in Latin)

Offertory hymn

  • Angels We Have Heard on High
  • Silent Night
  • The Aye Carol

Communion hymn

  • The First Noel
  • O Holy Night

Recessional hymn 

  • Joy to the World 
  • Go Tell It on a Mountain

More Christmas and Advent Resources

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