The Ten Best German Christmas Carols

It’s Christmas today! Well, at least in Germany it is.

Being a lapsed Protestant with no integrity, I like my Christmas carols Christian. The more Jesus, the better. Back in the East, we sang only un-Christian carols in school, and it’s put me off songs about snow, cookies and Santa forever. Here are the real deals; carols that make you feel guilty about not going to church, and tearful about the teeny infant in the stable.

Ich Steh An Deiner Krippen Hier

Written by none other than Bach, the heavyweight of German culture, this focuses nicely on the raw emotions upon seeing the Christ child for the first time, knowing him to be the Saviour. I personally like this because my parents’ record of Christmas music bears the same name, and this makes me feel nostalgic.

Macht Hoch Die Tür

The first song in my old recorder book. Page 4. Begins with “A”. Easy to play. Joyful.

Stille Nacht

Famous for making every German child mishear at least 30% of the lyrics. Most of those children will grow up believing God had another son called Owi. (“Gottes Sohn, oh wie lacht.”)

Still, still, still

This is just lovely. Mary is singing a lullaby to her newborn son, so hush, hush, hush.

Auf dem Berge, da wehet der Wind

Another Mary-rocking-baby-Jesus scene. On a windy hill. Was that inn situated on a windy hill? Who knows.


We felt so, so smug as little choir children, knowing a Latin word. It’s short for “Quem pastores laudavere,” meaning “He whom the shepherds praised,” it has been around since the 16th century, and it’s beautiful.

Kommt, wir geh’n nach Bethlehem

A killer on the recorder. That’s all I’m saying.

Tochter Zion

This needs several children’s choirs (or recorders) to reach its full potential.

Maria durch ein Dornwald ging

So, so sad. No snowflakes and sleigh rides here, but roses blossoming in winter. I love singing this, although I can’t sing. I wish I could sing.

Oh du Fröhliche

That half step in “gnadenbringende” makes me cry every time. It’s the last song sung at nativity services in my old church, and the most solemn one. Belting out “Freue dich, oh Christenheit” through the half-step-induced tears means it truly is Christmas.


By Karo

Schnazzy East German translator and cricket obsessive residing in England. I have other qualities, too.

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