Few things can instantly put you in the Christmas spirit like the sound of Christmas carols. In general, only those songs with a strong melody, simple chord structure and religious theme are considered Christmas carols, while all secular Christmas tunes are considered Christmas songs. However, when you think of Christmas carols, most likely you think of a mix of the two. Whether you just need some Christmas carol lyrics, sheet music, or a sing-along MIDI file so that you can remember exactly how every verse of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" goes, there are lots of places to find what you're looking for!
- Traditional Christmas carol sheet music. If you're going caroling, the traditional choices are mostly Christmas and Advent season hymns. A lot of these can be found in hymnals. Ask the music director at your church if you can borrow a hymnal and copy the carols for which you are looking. Copyright laws do forbid copying music unless you have the required number of copies for each member. For example, if you have a group of ten people going caroling, it's okay to make copies of the carols you'll be singing, as long as you actually have ten hymnals. This kind of copying is done to preserve the original, not to deny royalties to the publisher and/or songwriter.
- Secular carols. If you need secular carol lyrics, Christmas-Carols.net is a great place to start. For many of the carols, this website also provides MIDI files, so you can sing along if you like. This can be useful if you can't quite remember the melody of a carol. For more modern Christmas carols, such as "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" and "Jingle Bell Rock," try Santa's Sing-A-Long Christmas Carols. This site includes both lyrics and MIDI files. The Hymns and Carols of Christmas is a great site to check out for Christmas carols, too, especially if you're looking for some of the older, more obscure ones. In addition, most of these Christmas carols are in the public domain, so it's fine to print copies if you need them.
- Christmas songbooks. If you need sheet music for the Christmas carols you'll be singing, most music stores will have a selection of songbooks during the holiday season. The Christmas Carol Songbook, published by Alfred Publishing, is a collection of carols with piano accompaniment which can be played by most intermediate pianists. Perhaps "intermediate" doesn't quite describe your piano skills. If so, try The Big Book of Christmas Songs-Easy Piano Edition, published by Hal Leonard. If you don't want to spend time searching through music stores for a songbook, try the website, Sheet Music Plus. They have a wide variety of songbooks from which to choose, written for nearly any instrument from four-part choral arrangements to those written for a single recorder and voice.
No matter which carols you choose to sing, you'll be spreading Christmas joy to everyone that hears you - no matter what your singing ability!