Best Christmas Carol arrangements?

November 15, 2019, 2:09 PM · Does anyone know where I can get good Christmas Carol arrangements? I've agreed to play some for work, and most of what I can find is sort of 4 lines of music all in first position stuff, which is fine, as I can usually transpose up a fifth or an octave and repeat and ornament to make it all a bit less samey.

Just wondering if there were any arrangements people would recommend that are slightly more on the advanced-player level...


Replies (10)

November 15, 2019, 3:34 PM · Hi Chris,

One of my favorite things to do in the upcoming season - play Christmas music!

Personally, I like using the Episcopal Hymnal for the actual Christmas Carols.

As far as making them fancy with fireworks and high position notes, most people in your audience won't appreciate that as much as the first position music that they are used to hearing and often singing along with.

Of course you can find arrangements of Christmas/Winter seasonal tunes like "Silver Bells" "Carol of the Bells" et cetera probably in a Hal Leonard collection (they have a whole bunch of collections...)

November 15, 2019, 4:47 PM · James Curnow wrote a book which is available for different instruments called "Great Carols." The arrangements are rated grade 3-4, sound terrific when played with accompaniment. They were originally written for Phil Smith, principal trumpet of the NYPhil for many years. There is a book for Flute/Oboe/Mallets which would work well for violin. You need to buy the instrument book and you also need to buy separately the piano book if you wish to perform them with piano.
November 15, 2019, 5:09 PM · Last Resort Music has some very nice arrangements (18 Traditional Carols).
November 15, 2019, 8:26 PM · There are books by Martha Yasuda written for students both as easy duets and then the two parts together as double stops. They're pretty nice and this adds some more interest than just the solo line.
November 17, 2019, 8:11 AM · Paul Fehrenbach's arrangements of 48 Christmas Carols, originally for solo violin and now also available for viola, are definitely for more advanced players. Volume One contains many popular carols and Volume Two features lesser known ones. All are composed in a Theme & Variation format. Available in book or pdf at:

I'm working on new ones for this year; four videos from last year can be heard at:

Edited: November 18, 2019, 8:59 AM · The two volumes of Christmas Carols for Unaccompanied Violin that Patricia is referring to are also on sale at Johnson String Instrument.
The books are actually cheaper than I am selling the digital PDF version for.
The link for Johnson's is:
November 18, 2019, 12:05 PM · May I suggest the following which I originally arranged for my own quartet when doing Christmas gigging:

Carols in Volume I are: 1. Angels We Have Heard on High* 2. Away in a Manger (German) 3. Away in a Manger (British) 4. Away in a Manger (American)* 5. The Boar’s Head carol 6. Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella 7. Carol of the Bells 8. Come, All Ye Shepherds 9. Deck the Hall 10. Echo Carol 11. The First Noel 12. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen 13. Good Christian Men, Rejoice (In Dulci Jubilo) 14. Good King Wenceslas 15. Hark! the Herald Angels Sing 16. Here We Come A-Wassailing 17. Huron Indian Carol: Jesos Ahatonhia 18. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day 19. I Saw Three Ships 20. In a Manger He Is Lying 21. Infant so Gentle 22. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

Volume II contains the following carols: 23. Jingle Bells 24. Jolly Old Saint Nicholas 25. Joy to the World 26. Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming 27. Lullay, Thou Little Tiny Child (The Coventry Carol) 28. O Come, All Ye Faithful (Adeste, Fideles) 29. O Come, Little Children 30. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel 31. O, Little Town of Bethlehem (American) 32. O, Little Town of Bethlehem (British) 33. O Sactissima 34. O Tannenbaum 35. Silent Night 36. Up on the House Top 37. A Virgin Unspotted 38. We Three Kings of Orient Are 39. We Wish You a Merry Christmas 40. What Child Is This??

Carols in Volume III are: 41. Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light (J. S. Bach) 42. Ding Dong Merrily on High (Traditional French) 43. The Holly and the Ivy (Traditional English) 44. In the Bleak Midwinter (Gustav Holst) 45. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear [British] (Sir Arthur Sullivan) 46. Lullay My Liking (15th C., Arr. Gustav Holst) 47. Noel Nouvelet (Traditional French) 48. Nous Voici Dans la Ville (Traditional French) 49. Nowell We Sing, Both All and Some (Medieval English) 50. Once in David’s Royal City (Henry John Gauntlett, Harm. Arthur Henry Mann) 51. Past Three O’Clock (Traditional English) 52. Pat-a-pan (Traditional French) 53. Personent Hodie (German, 1360, Arr. Gustav Holst) 54. Puer Nobis (Piae Cantiones, 1562) 55. The Rocking Carol (Traditional Czech) 56. Sans Day Carol (Traditional Cornish) 57. See Amid the Winter’s Snows (Sir John Goss) 58. The Seven Joys of Mary (Traditional English) 59. The Shepherds’ Farewell from L’Enfance du Christ, Op. 25 (Hector Berlioz) 60. Still, Still, Still (Traditional Austrian) 61. The Wexford Carol Good People All (Traditional Irish) 62. While Shepherds Watched (Este’s Psalter, 1592)

November 18, 2019, 12:29 PM · Martha Yasuda! Wonderful arrangements, and she has a lot of options, for duets, solo with double-stops and quartet. Check out her stuff here:
November 18, 2019, 1:07 PM · Mary Ellen: thank you SO much for pointing out Last Resort! I'd just about given up on finding arrangements for clarinet/viola/piano trio. Went there and looked, and they have 'em, in quite a variety.

I have a handful of friends here who'll be happy to hear about that site, too.

November 18, 2019, 8:14 PM · you're welcome!

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha YVN Model 3
Yamaha YVN Model 3

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases


Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine