7 Christmas Poems That Inspired Beloved Christmas Carols

Works From Shakespeare and Martin Luther Make This List

Did you know that the Christmas carols you sing during the holidays originated from famous Christmas poems penned by the likes of Martin Luther and Shakespeare? These poems lend the Christmassy feel to the season. They bring alive long lost magic, add the subtle touch of beauty and romance to the ambience. For many families, Christmas Eve cannot end without a round of poems.

Christmas poems should talk of life, love and celebration. They should inspire, touch or soothe. Some poems have such a lingering effect that they continue to mesmerize through the New Year. These quotes have been extracted from seven favorite Christmas poems. You will recognize most of them as Christmas carols.

1. Martin Luther

Martin Luther was a German priest, well known as the leader of the great religious revolt in the 16th century. His views on religion and God were against the church teachings during those times. This hymn is extracted from the Lutheran Church Book written in 1868 and translated from German to English by Catherine Winkworth, 1855, and A. T. Russell, and put to music. The text of the hymn was based on Luke 2: 1-18.

Good news from heaven the angels bring,
Glad tidings to the earth they sing:
To us this day a child is given,
To crown us with the joy of heaven.

2. Clement C. Moore, "A Visit from St. Nicholas"

Despite the ongoing controversy on the authorship of this poem, it is widely believed that Moore was the author, though he was not known to create such poems. The world has Clement C. Moore to thank today for the conception of the idea of Santa Claus and Christmas gifting. In the original poem, St. Nicholas was a portly elf with a joyous disposition, carrying a sack of toys for children. Does that remind you of Santa Claus?

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there

3. William Shakespeare

This extract is from Shakespeare's famous play "Love's Labour's Lost." These lines are spoken by Lord Berowne, the noble who attends to the king. Though this is not a Christmas carol, many use these lines to embellish their Christmas greetings, cards, messages, and social media status updates.

At Christmas I no more desire a rose,
Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled shows;
But like of each thing that in season grows.

4. Christina Rossetti

This Christina Rossetti poem has a lyrical and melodious beauty in the verse. Christina Rosetti was of Italian origin, and her views about Christmas bore an Italian influence. She was famous for her romantic and devotional poems.

Love came down at Christmas;
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Stars and angels gave the sign.

5. Phillips Brooks, "O Little Town of Bethlehem"

Phillips Brooks, an American priest, on his visit to a village in Bethlehem was so inspired that he wrote the hymn "O Little Town of Bethlehem." His church organist Lewis Redner set it to music and since then this poem has been sung in Christmas choirs.

The earth has grown old with its burden of care
But at Christmas it always is young,
The heart of the jewel burns lustrous and fair
And its soul full of music breaks the air,
When the song of angels is sung.

6. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is one of the most revered poets in American history. This extract is a part of the original poem titled "Christmas Bells." This poem is deeply touching as it was written soon after the tragic death of his beloved son Charley, who fell to bullet wounds during battle. Having already lost his wife in a freak fire accident, Longfellow was a broken man. His words come from the depth of sadness that engulfed his heart till death.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on Earth, good will to men!

7. Sir Walter Scott

Renowned Scottish poet Sir Walter Scott was well known for his narrative style of poetry. His most famous work was "Lay of the Last Minstrel." This extract is from another of his famous poems, 
"Marmion," written in 1808. You will read this in Canto VI in the Introduction Stanza. The vibrant storytelling, imagery, and detail is what Sir Walter Scott was famous for in his poems.

Heap on the wood!
The wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will,
We'll keep our Christmas merry still.