20 Christmas Carols written before the 1900s. 
Luke’s Nativity text in the New Testament, has been the inspiration to four well-known canticles, although their exact origins remain unknown:
- The Magnificat, in Luke 1:46–55, is spoken by Mary and is one of the eight most ancient Christian hymns, perhaps the earliest Marian hymn.
- The Benedictus, in Luke 1:68–79, is spoken by Zechariah, while the Nunc dimittis, in Luke 2:29–32, is spoken by Simeon.
- The traditional Gloria in Excelsis is longer than the opening line presented in Luke 2:14, and is often called the “Song of the Angels” given that it was uttered by the angels in the Annunciation to the Shepherds.
By the 13th century, the Franciscans had encouraged a strong tradition of popular Christmas songs in the native languages. Christmas carols in English first appear in a 1426 work of John Awdlay, a Shropshire chaplain, who lists twenty-five “caroles of Cristemas”.[Christ’s Mass] [https://en.wikipedia.org/]
20 Christmas Songs written before 1900s.
- “Good King Wenceslas,” Neale’s original English lyrics were set to the melody of a 13th century Easter hymn called “Tempus adest floridum.
- “O Come, All Ye Faithful” words may be from 13th century.
- “Joy to the World” (1719) The lyrics are by English writer Isaac Watts, and he based them on Psalms 98, parts of Psalm 96, and Genesis 3:17. Published in 1719, it’s one of the oldest known Christmas carols that are still popular today.
- “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” (1739) among many other famous hymns.
- “Hallelujah Chorus”, (1741)George Frideric Handel
- “O Come All Ye Faithful” (1743) (Adeste Fideles), John Francis Wade.
- “The Twelve Days of Christmas”,( 1780 ) sung at King Pepin’s Ball”, as part of a children’s book, Mirth without Mischief. Subsequent versions have shown considerable variation.
- “O Little Town of Bethlehem” (mid 1800s ) Phillips Brooks compiled this song Inspired by visiting Bethlehem.
- “Silent Night”, (1818) It was composed in Austria by Franz Xaver Gruber in 1818, with lyrics by Joseph Mohr.
- “The First Noel” (1823) and seems to be of Cornish origin, published in carol and hymn books at the time.
- “O Christmas Tree” (1824) The modern lyrics were written by the Leipzig organist, teacher and composer Ernst Anschütz. A Tannenbaum is a fir.
- “O Holy Night” (1847) Adolphe Adam is credited for authorship of this carol back “It Came Upon” (1849)the Midnight Clear, Edmund Hamilton Sears
- “We Three Kings” (1857)It’s an American carol written by John Henry Hopkins Jr.
- “Jingle Bells” In 1857composer James Lord Pierpont while being the musici director for the congregation at Unitarian Universalist Church,” in Savannah, Georgia according to Southern University history professor Christopher Hendricks. ‘One Horse Open Sleigh,’ was the actual title of it,” he said.
- “Deck the Halls” (1862) It’s one of the few traditional carols not based on the Nativity. The lyrics were written by Scottish musician Thomas Oliphant, and set to a popular Welsh melody,
- “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day (1863),” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, (1867)
- “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” (1879)John Wesley Work
- “What Child Is This?” It was written by William Chatteron Dix .
- “Away in a Manger”(late 1800s )the lyrics originally attributed to Christian reformer Martin Luther. However, it’s actually an American song, it was originally text for a children’s play that was eventually set to music and given lyrics.
Children’s Books of Christmas Carols, some include music sheets.
I love this page. Great info on the carols. Though, I thought there might be more that reflected the pagan traditions from which the whole tradition sprang.
I was hoping to inspire you to do more research on your own, but you are right, any song that has to do with trees, or dancing around, or decorating the halls, will have a pre-Christian origin a.k.a “pagan” since most of them had a devotion to nature, trees, in particular, changing of seasons. Groups of neighbors would go “WassailingIn” around the neighborhood singing and drinking wishing good health to all. By the way, the word Carol is derived from an Old French activity of dancing in circles. Thank you for your comment .