Irish Christmas Songs: Add These Beautiful Melodies to Your Holiday Irish Expressions!

We love Irish Christmas songs for their beauty and history.  Christmas is so important among the people of Ireland that it is often a month-long celebration starting from 8 December of the current year until 6 January of the following year!

Irish Expressions:  Irish Christmas Songs.  Image of Santa with the Irish flag, courtesy of Shutterstock.

5 Of Our Favorite Irish Christmas Songs

Here are some of the most important Christmas songs from Ireland.

The Wexford Carol

Known among the Irish as Carúl Loch Garman or CarúlInis Córthaidh, is one of the oldest-known existing Christmas carols still sung today.

Its name comes from the place where it originally started - Enniscorthy, County Wexford - with its origins dating back to the 12th century.

It is also sometimes known by its first line, "Good people all this Christmas time."

The Wexford Carol has been sung only by males in past centuries.

Since the 1990s, however, females were allowed to sing the song, with the most notable examples being the Celtic Woman and Loreena McKennitt.

This Christmas carol has a universal theme - the nativity of Christ. This is one of the reasons why the Wexford Carol remains as popular as ever among the Irish.

The Wexford Carol Lyrics

Want to sing along?  You've come to the right place!  Read the full song lyrics below and then listen to one our favorite renditions of this lovely Irish Christmas song.

Good people all, this Christmas time
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved son

With Mary holy we should pray
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn
There was a blessed Messiah born

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep
To whom God's angels did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear

'Prepare and go, ' the angels said
'To Bethlehem, be not afraid
For there you'll find, this happy morn
A princely babe, sweet Jesus born

With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went, this babe to find
And as God's angel had foretold
They did our saviour Christ behold

Within a manger he was laid
And by his side the virgin maid
Attending on the Lord of life
Who came on earth to end all strife

Good people all, this Christmas time
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved Son

With Mary holy we should pray
To God with love this Christmas day
In Bethlehem upon that morn
There was a blessed Messiah born

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Derek Holman / Irish Traditional Melody

Christmas in Killarney

This Christmas carol was a work of collaboration between James Cavanaugh, John Redmond and Frank Weldon.

It is of fairly recent origin - 1950 - but it is already considered a classic carol among the Irish.

But it is not just the Irish who are enamored of the song. Many foreign artists have recorded it including the likes of Bing Crosby in his Merry Christmas album, Ruby Murray, and Dennis Day as well as Bobby Vinton, Anne Murray, Barra MacNeills.

Christmas in Killarney has even been featured in the classic Christmas special, The Leprechaun's Christmas Gold. What is an Irish Christmas carol, after all, without a leprechaun?

Lyrics to Christmas in Killarney

Singing along to Irish songs is one of our favorite forms of Irish Expression.  Have a look at the lyrics to this wonderful Irish Christmas Song, and then listen to an example sung by none other than The Irish Rovers!

The holly green, the ivy green
The prettiest picture you've ever seen
It's Christmas in Killarney
With all of the folks at home

It's nice, ya know, to kiss your beau
While cuddlin' under the mistletoe
And Santa Clause, ya know of course
Is one of the boys from home

The door is always open
The neighbors pay you call
And Father John, before he's gone
Will bless the house and all

Our hearts are light
Our spirits bright
We'll celebrate our joy tonight
It's Christmas in Killarney
With all of the folks at home

The holly green, the ivy green
The prettiest picture you've ever seen
It's Christmas in Killarney
With all of the folks at home

It's nice, ya know, to kiss your beau
While cuddlin' under the mistletoe
And Santa Clause, ya know of course
Is one of the boys from home

We'll decorate the Christmas tree
When all the family's here
Around the roarin' fire
We will raise a cup of cheer

There's gifts to bring
And songs to sing
And laughs to make the rafters ring
It's Christmas in Killarney
With all of the folks at home

The holly green, the ivy green
The prettiest picture you've ever seen
It's Christmas in Killarney
With all of the folks at home

It's nice, ya know, to kiss your beau
While cuddlin' under the mistletoe
And Santa Clause, ya know of course
Is one of the boys from home

The holly green, the ivy green
The prettiest picture you've ever seen
It's Christmas in Killarney
With all of the folks at home

It's nice, ya know, to kiss your beau
While cuddlin' under the mistletoe
And Santa Clause, ya know of course
Is one of the boys from home

We'll take the horse and sleigh all
Across the fields a-snow
Listenin' to the jingle bells
Everywhere we go

How grand it feels
To click your heels
And dance away to the jigs and reels
It's Christmas in Killarney
With all of the folks at home

The holly green, the ivy green
The prettiest picture you've ever seen
It's Christmas in Killarney
With all of the folks at home

It's nice, ya know, to kiss your beau
While cuddlin' under the mistletoe
And Santa Clause, ya know of course
Is one of the boys from home

The holly green, the ivy green
The prettiest picture you've ever seen
I'm handin' you no blarney
No matter where you roam
It's Christmas in Killarney
With all of the folks at home

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: John Redmond / James Cavanaugh / Frank Weldon

Christmas in Killarney lyrics © Wb Music Corp.

Once in Royal David's City

A favorite Irish Christmas song, Once in Royal David's City was first written as a poem by Cecil Frances Alexander.

Its first publication was in "Miss Cecil Humphrey's Hymnbook for Little Children" in 1848. Its verses were then set to music by Henry John Gauntlett, an English organist, in 1849.

Since 1919, the carol has been used as the processional hymn during the Christmas Eve service at the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols conducted at the King's College Chapel Cambridge.

The arrangement used was made by Dr. Arthur Henry Mann wherein the first verse is a solo, the second verse is sung by the choir and the third verse is sung by the entire congregation.

Lyrics to Once in Royal David's City

Once again, the fun is in singing along.  Have a look at the lyrics to the entire song below and then learn the tune by listening to a wonderful rendition courtesy of YouTube.

Once in Royal David’s city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her Baby
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little Child.

He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall;
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Saviour holy.

And through all His wondrous childhood
He would honour and obey,
Love and watch the lowly maiden,
In whose gentle arms He lay:
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as He.

For he is our childhood’s pattern;
Day by day, like us He grew;
He was little, weak and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us He knew;
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness.

And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
For that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above,
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone.

Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him; but in heaven,
Set at God’s right hand on high;
Where like stars His children crowned
All in white shall wait around.

Source:  ClassicFM.com

I Saw Three Ships

This Christmas carol originated from England but it has gradually become a favorite Irish Christmas song. It is an old carol originating from the 17th century from Derbyshire.

According to one tradition, the three ships referenced in the carol represent the three ships that brought the relics of the biblical Magi to the Cologne Cathedral back in the 12th century.

Another theory about the song is that it refers to Wenceslaus II, the King of Bohemia, whose coat of arms was emblazoned "Azure three galleys argent".

Lyrics to I Saw Three Ships

Want to sing along?  Wonderful!  Below are the lyrics and a beautiful rendition courtesy of YouTube to help you practice singing this classic Irish Christmas Song.

I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day in the morning

And what was in those ships all three
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day?
And what was in those ships all three
On Christmas Day in the morning?

Our Saviour Christ and his Lady
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day
Our Saviour Christ and his Lady
On Christmas Day in the morning
And all the bells on Earth shall ring
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day
And all the bells on Earth shall ring
On Christmas Day in the morning

And all the angels in Heaven shall sing
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day
And all the angels in Heaven shall sing
On Christmas Day in the morning

Then let us all rejoice again
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day
Then let us all rejoice again
On Christmas Day in the morning

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Paddy Moloney

I Saw Three Ships a Sailing lyrics © BMG Rights Management

Whilst Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night

Yet another favorite Irish Christmas song is the carol written by Nahum Tate, an Irishman who later became England's poet laureate - just another example of the great talent for words among the Irish.

It tells the story of the annunciation of the birth of Jesus to the shepherds tending to their flocks of sheep in the field, thus, the title.

The carol first appeared in New Version of the Psalms of David of 1696 and its words still remain to this day.

In fact, it is the only Christmas carol allowed by the Anglican Church to be sung during its services aside from the Psalms of David.

Its lyrics are based on the Gospel of Luke particularly Chapter 2, Verses 8 to 14. It can be sung in two ways, namely, Winchester Old in the UK and Handel area in the US.

Lyrics to Whilst Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night

As before:  here are the words ... and below is an example!

While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
all seated on the ground,
the angel of the Lord came down
and glory shone around.

“Fear not,” said he – for mighty dread
had seized their troubled mind –
“Glad tidings of great joy I bring
to you and all mankind:

“To you in David’s town this day
is born of David’s line
a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be the sign:

“The heavenly babe you there shall find
to human view displayed,
all meanly wrapped in swathing bands
and in a manger laid.”

Thus spoke the seraph, and forthwith
appeared a shining throng
of angels praising God, who thus
addressed their joyful song:

“All glory be to God on high,
and to the earth be peace;
goodwill henceforth from highest heaven
begin and never cease!”

Source:  ClassicFM.com

Want More Irish Song Lyrics?

It is probably obvious - at Irish Expressions, we love Irish songs!  The music of the Emerald Isle brings people together, telling stories that touch every human emotion.

Learning the lyrics and singing these songs gives us a deeper sense of connection with Ireland, wherever in the world we happen to be!

We have captured 10 of our favorite Irish songs - like Danny Boy, Wild Rover and Red is the Rose in an e-book we call "An Illustrated Irish Songbook."

This fun, free guide is available to you to download.  Simply scroll to the bottom of the page and enter your email address to get instant access!

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