The Surprising History of Christmas Carols

Dec 16, 2019

9pm Thursday CHRISTMAS CAROLS WITH LISA WORSLEY - Documentary - Discover the fascinating and often-surprising history of our most beloved Christmas carols. 

  Join popular historian Lucy Worsley as she uncovers the hidden stories behind our most beloved Christmas carols. Find out if the carol service was really invented to lure locals out of the pub and into church. Or which carol began life as a secret rallying cry to oppressed Catholics? And why "Silent Night" spread so rapidly around the world?   Hear from a host of international experts and special guests, including the Hampton Court Choir and award-winning gospel group The Kingdom Choir.


  • Carols were not sung in church until the second half of the 19th century.
  • Isaac Watts composed “Joy to the World” which has become a popular Christmas carol even though it is widely believed that Watts did not write it to be sung only at Christmas.
  • Charles Wesley is best know for writing "Hark! How All the Welkin Rings", later edited to "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing".
  • "Silent Night" comes from Austria. The carol was first performed in the Nikolaus-Kirche (Church of St. Nicholas) in Oberndorf, Austria on 24 December 1818. The first English translation was in 1871 where it was published in a Methodist hymnal.