May All Your Christmas Services Be Merry ... and Legal
Songs you can sing without the Grinch showing up with his team of lawyers.
May All Your Christmas Services Be Merry ... and Legal

Could your church be sued for belting out "Angels We Have Heard on High" this Christmas season? No—unless the specific arrangement you're singing is copyrighted.

You'll be pleased as Christmas punch to know that many of your favorite Christmas songs are in the "public domain"—meaning that no one holds the copyright to them.

The Christian Copyright Solutions site explains: "If a song is in the public domain, you can make any changes you want to it, including changing lyrics, or adding a verse or chorus. You can also set new music to existing public domain lyrics."

Along with "Angels We Have Heard on High," Christian Copyright Solutions also lists around three dozen other public domain Christmas songs, including:

  • Come All Ye Faithful
  • Away in a Manger
  • Come O Come Emmanuel
  • Little Town of Bethlehem
  • Go Tell It on the Mountain
  • Silent Night
  • Hark the Herald Angels Sing
  • The First Noel
  • Joy to the World
  • We Wish You a Merry Christmas

To make sure your worship complies with copyright law, see the article "Understanding Worship Music Copyright Law." And then dig deep into all your copyright questions and concerns with our book Essential Guide to Copyright Law for Churches.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

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