Not all Christmas songs, carols or hymns are in the public domain. This commonly held misconception could prove costly for churches unless they understand that many Christmas tunes are copyrighted and owned by secular music publishers.
When it comes to Christmas songs, understanding which ones are copyrighted and which are public domain can get complicated. For public domain songs, you can do anything you want with them without the need to obtain permissions, pay royalties, or credit the original author. This does not apply to copyrighted arrangements of a song in the public domain. Songs that are copyrighted will require permission, licensing, or exemptions.
Below is a list of five popular Christmas songs that are in the public domain, and five that are not.
Five Christmas Songs That Are In The Public Domain
Away in a Manger
Deck the Halls
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Five Christmas Songs That Are Not In The Public Domain
Frosty the Snowman
Do You Hear What I Hear?
Holly Jolly Christmas
Santa Claus is Coming to Town
For a complete listing, download our fact sheets, Copyrighted Christmas Songs and Public Domain Christmas Songs, from our Learning Center. If you have any questions please call us at 877-394-5566 or chat with a live copyright expert online.
About Christian Copyright Solutions: CCS’s quest is to help churches and Christian ministries “do music right.” CCS is an expert on church music copyrights and our primary focus is providing licensing and clear educational resources to churches, as well as representation, administration, and advocacy for copyright owners. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.