NASHVILLE (BP) -- Every year, new Christmas songs are written and performed by popular artists from nearly every music genre, but inside churches, the classics still reign.

The most popular Christmas songs downloaded or sold through LifeWayWorship.com are:

1. O Come, All Ye Faithful

2. Joy To The World! The Lord Is Come

3. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

4. Angels We Have Heard On High

5. Christ Has Come

6. Silent Night, Holy Night

7. O Holy Night!

8. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

9. Go, Tell On The Mountain

10. The First Noel

11. Angels, From The Realms Of Glory

12. O Little Town Of Bethlehem

13. Away In A Manger

14. What Child Is This

15. Joy To The World (Unspeakable Joy)

Mike Harland, director of LifeWay Worship, said most Christmas carols go back to the 13th century.

"Carols were primarily art songs in nature with spiritual or religious themes. As time went by, they became more about the nativity of Christ," Harland said. "The carols associated with Christmas tended to survive. By the 16th century, the Christmas carol was here to stay.

Now, Harland said, there's "a certain nostalgia with these familiar classics."

"People like to sing what they know, and especially at the holiday season it takes you back to places in your memory -- singing the same song as a child at Christmas.

"Christmas is a singing season," Harland said. "It may be the most sung-about season of all. Almost everyone will sing during the Christmas season at one point or another, even if they don't normally sing at all. The familiarity of the songs is the main factor with this."

Jon D. Wilke is media relations manager for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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