8 Classical Guitar Books Of Christmas Songs For All Levels


Everyone expects guitar players to play popular songs. Come December, a classical guitarist is expected to entertain their social groups with Christmas songs and carols. It’s time to prepare with some classical guitar sheet music for the season.

Here’s a listing of 8 books that do justice to this need and prepares players with some great arrangement of festive songs for all levels – beginner, intermediate and advanced. Most of them include TABs in addition to standard notation. The pieces in these books are applicable to not only the classical guitar but also to acoustic guitar (fingerpicking style).

Take a quick glance at the eight books below and what they have to offer. A detailed look follows after the table.

The 8 books compared

TitleTABsLook inside’ featureOnline audio/CD includedAmazon link
Christmas Music for Easy Classical Guitar
Level: Easy
Standard notation onlyYes (but no scores shown)No online audio or CD includedCheck price
Christmas Carols for Easy Classical Guitar
Level: Easy
Standard notation + TABYesOnline audio accessCheck price
Classical Guitar Christmas Collection
Level: Easy
Standard notation + TABNoNo online audio or CD includedCheck price
Classical Guitar Christmas Sheet Music
Level: Easy to early intermediate
Standard notation onlyYesNo online audio or CD includedCheck price
Fingerpicking Christmas: 20 Carols
Level: Early intermediate
Standard notation + TABNoNo online audio or CD includedCheck price
Hymns for Fingerstyle Guitar
Level: Early intermediate
Standard notation + TABYesOnline audio accessCheck price
Mark Hanson’s Fingerstyle Christmas Guitar
Level: Intermediate
Standard notation + TABYesOnline audio accessCheck price
Christmas Carols for Advanced Acoustic Guitar
Level: Intermediate to advanced
Standard notation + TABYesOnline audio accessCheck price

1. Christmas Music for Easy Classical Guitar

This book is a collection of 24 Christmas songs arranged for easy classical guitar. The blurb says that “this collection is well suited for beginner guitarists as the melodies are harmonized with open bass notes and chords that are easy enough for the hands of a beginner student.”

The author also states clearly in the introduction that there are many so-called “easy classical guitar” collections that are in fact too difficult for beginners and this book addresses that need with simple arrangements that are good to play. Some reviewers also agree that, unlike many beginner books, this one lives up to the promise.

An advanced beginner or intermediate player will find such arrangements too basic and not lush or full enough. But for beginners, as well as children learning the classical guitar, this can be a good introduction to songs of the season.

Perhaps the colorful, children’s book-type cover design hints at the audience it is hoping to entertain. The book is in standard notation so TAB fans will be disappointed. There is no online audio to go along with the book, but the tunes are familiar ones known to everyone. The ‘Look inside’ feature of Amazon is available for the book but unfortunately, it has only the intro parts and not scores.

This means, unlike most other books in this article, you can’t check for yourself if the difficulty level is as easy as claimed.

List of songs (24) 

  • Angels We Have Heard on High
  • Auld Lang Syne
  • Away in a Manger
  • Carol of the Bells
  • Deck the Halls
  • The First Noel
  • Gabriel’s Message
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • Good King Wenceslas
  • Hark, the Herald Angels Sing
  • Here We Come a Wassailing
  • The Holly and the Ivy
  • I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In
  • Jingle Bells
  • Jolly Old St. Nicholas
  • Joy to the World
  • O Christmas Tree
  • O Come, All Ye Faithful
  • O Come, O Come Emmanuel
  • O Little Town of Bethlehem
  • Silent Night
  • Up on the Housetop
  • We Three Kings
  • We Wish You a Merry Christmas

2. Christmas Carols for Easy Classical Guitar

This collection with online audio renditions features 22 Christmas carols arranged for easy classical guitar. For a beginner who can read simple two-part scores in the first or second positions, these should be easy arrangements to play. This will rule out rank beginners, who may find the going challenging.

Even acoustic guitarists who can play finger style will find this book a valuable addition for their gigging sessions this season. The arrangements are simple and musical – obviously nothing virtuosic. TABS are included in addition to regular notation. Access to online audio lets the player hear an arrangement before trying to learn it. This is such a helpful and easy feature to have these days it is a surprise that not many score collections offer it.

All songs are in standard tuning with the one exception of O Christmas Tree, which is in drop D tuning. Overall, 22 easy pieces plus online audio for an affordable price is really a good deal.

List of songs (22)

  • Angels we have heard on high
  • Ave Maria
  • Away in a manger
  • Deck the halls
  • The First Noel
  • God rest ye merry, gentlemen
  • Hark! The herald angels sing
  • It came upon the midnight clear
  • Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
  • Jingle Bells
  • Joy to the world
  • O Christmas tree
  • O come, all ye faithful (Adeste Fideles)
  • O come, o come, Emmanuel
  • O Holy Night
  • O little town of Bethlehem
  • Once in Royal David’s city
  • Silent Night
  • The twelve days of Christmas
  • We three Kings of Orient are
  • We wish you a Merry Christmas
  • What Child is this?

3. Classical Guitar Christmas Collection

This is an easy arrangement collection of 25 well-known songs for fingerstyle acoustic guitar – in standard notation as well as tablature. Classical guitar students will find the simple arrangements very accessible. Most pieces are one page long and so involve no page turns. Making them easy to play for beginners.

Although advanced beginners – folks playing the classical guitar in their second year – may find such curtailed arrangements too basic. 

On the other hand, rank beginners may find the pieces challenging even though they are simple and short to play. The technical aspects may stretch their abilities even though the tunes are familiar.

Since there is no ‘Look inside’ feature for this book – an unfortunate omission, I think – it’s better that you have at least 6 months to a year of playing and sight-reading experience. For a beginner’s book, many pieces are surprisingly in dropped D tuning. Altered tunings are generally considered a higher level aspect of playing but perhaps they were included for musical reasons in the belief they may not be that difficult to execute after all.

The song selection is good – from the more classical Christian tunes to secular stuff like Jingle Bells and Deck the Halls. The TAB addition to the score will be a welcome feature to many. There is no CD or online access to the book’s audio. 

List of songs (25)

  • Angels We Have Heard on High
  • Auld Lang Syne
  • Ave Maria
  • Away in a Manger
  • Canon in D
  • The First Noel
  • God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
  • Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
  • I Saw Three Ships
  • Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
  • Joy to the World
  • O Christmas Tree
  • O Holy Night
  • Silent Night
  • What Child Is This?

(Partial listing)

4. Classical Guitar Christmas Sheet Music

This is a good collection of 30 songs in 2-part and 3-part arrangements in conventional classical guitar style and notation. For an advanced beginner or early intermediate player, these pieces are great arrangements typical for the classical guitar and should be easy to play with a little practice. There are clear markings on fingering and positions.

For players of lesser skill – less than a year’s experience in sight-reading as well as playing the classical guitar – these songs will be somewhat challenging. The arrangements are ‘full’ and musical, demanding sight-reading skills to process 2 or 3 lines of music simultaneously. On the other hand, for the ambitious learner, these pieces can be satisfying for they are richer and more complex arrangements and not basic renditions.

There is no TAB. And there are no downloadable audio files to rate your playing against, which is a pity for a good selection of songs such as this.

If you’re unsure if this book suits your playing levels, check the ‘Look inside’ feature on Amazon by clicking on the cover image and glancing at the sample pages inside. It’s the best way to gauge if the material is suitable for you or not. For a certain level of intermediate player, this will be a rewarding book to own.

List of songs (30)

  • Angels we have heard on high
  • As with gladness men of old
  • Auld Lang Syne
  • Away in a manger
  • Christ was born on Christmas Day
  • Coventry Carol
  • Deck the Hall
  • The First Noel
  • Go tell it to the mountain
  • God rest ye merry gentlemen
  • Good King Wenceslas
  • Hallelujah Chorus
  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
  • Here we come a-wassailing
  • The Holly and the Ivy
  • I saw three ships
  • Jingle Bells
  • Jolly Old St.Nicholas
  • Joy to the world
  • March
  • O Christmas Tree
  • O come all ye faithful
  • O Holy Night
  • O little town of Bethlehem
  • Silent Night
  • The twelve days of Christmas
  • Up on the housetop
  • We Three Kings of Orient Are
  • We wish you a merry Christmas
  • What child is this?

5. Fingerpicking Christmas: 20 Carols

This fingerpicking collection for acoustic guitar features 20 classic carols written for the intermediate-level guitarist. Each solo combines melody and harmony in one very playable fingerpicking arrangement. The book includes both standard notation as well as tablature.

Going by user reviews this is a popular book. The carols are arranged in acoustic guitar fashion with a few chord strums here and there to keep the rhythm going but should present no obstacles to classical guitarists. The melody-harmony arrangement with accompanying bass notes will be all too familiar to them. For a more advanced guitarist, this book can provide a solid, base framework for experimentation and creating their own arrangements.

Most of the playing happens in the first three frets with an occasional jump to the 7th fret or higher. There are no challenging chord shapes to learn. For an early intermediate player, the songs should be relatively easy to pick up and memorize. There is no CD or online audio files to rate your playing against.

For a popular book, the only small, frustrating thing could be that there is no ‘Look inside’ feature on the Amazon page. That could have helped many players to quickly gauge for themselves if their playing level is a good match for the arrangement difficulty level.

List of songs (20)

  • Away in a Manger
  • Deck the Hall
  • The First Noel
  • Good King Wenceslas
  • I Saw Three Ships
  • It Came upon the Midnight Clear
  • Jingle Bells
  • O Come, All Ye Faithful
  • Silent Night
  • We Wish You a Merry Christmas
  • What Child Is This?

(Partial listing)

6. Hymns for Fingerstyle Guitar

If you’re into hymns, this is a remarkable collection for early intermediates (and higher levels). The book ticks all the boxes. There is standard notation as also TABs. There is online access to audio files of the pieces in the book. And there is the ‘Look inside’ feature on the Amazon page to help you decide its suitability.

In addition, the arrangements are supplemented with practical tips on improvisation of intros and endings for every piece.

Hymns for Fingerstyle Guitar contains 25 well-known hymns arranged for fingerstyle guitar in standard tuning. The arrangements are designed with the potential to embellish them on the fly to create more complex arrangements in your own style. Toward this, the book includes tips and suggestions on adding your own introductions and endings as well as improvising variations.

It aims to cater to all levels of players who are already comfortable with the basics of technique and sight-reading. Even beginners can play the chords and slowly learn the notes using the tablature. For more advanced players, this can be a fake book and help them improvise embellishments.

The author also gives a nice background to the hymns and an excerpt from the lyrics, as well as some performance notes and suggestions.

According to a user review, what’s so cool about the book is that you get so much better at improvising that you end up with a “great skill that is useful beyond the book.”

List of hymns (25)

  • Abide With Me
  • Amazing Grace
  • A Mighty Fortress is Our God
  • Be Thou My Vision
  • Blessed Assurance
  • Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
  • Fairest Lord Jesus
  • Faith of Our Fathers
  • For the Beauty of the Earth
  • He Leadeth Me
  • Holy, Holy, Holy
  • I Have Decided to Follow Jesus
  • In the Garden
  • Jesus Loves Me
  • Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross
  • Just As I Am
  • Love Lifted Me
  • Praise Him, Praise Him
  • Sweet Hour of Prayer
  • The Old Rugged Cross
  • This is My Father’s World
  • Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
  • We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder
  • What a Friend We Have in Jesus
  • Whispering Hope

7. Mark Hanson’s Fingerstyle Christmas Guitar

The sales blurb for Fingerstyle Christmas Guitar makes it clear that the book is “for the intermediate/advanced player wanting to learn performance worthy arrangements of Christmas tunes.”  For a gigging guitarist, its dozen well-arranged tunes of the holiday season will be a welcome addition. And intermediate students will find the book pleasantly challenging.

This book is aimed at the fingerstyle acoustic guitar rather than specifically for the classical guitar. But it has great arrangements in standard notation and TABs that would appeal to classical guitarists of intermediate level. The author presents the 12 arrangements under 3 sections: Easy, Intermediate and Challenging, with 4 pieces in each section. But the Easy pieces aren’t necessarily all that easy, though.

Like most books for fingerstyle guitar, it contains chord markings over the staff. At the very least, a beginner can learn the chords and strum along but the book is not really for beginners. Even the first 4 songs marked as ‘Easy’ by the author require a few years of playing and reading experience. Intermediate players will find the pieces worthwhile and reasonably challenging. The left-hand fingering is not always given although you can deduce it from the tablature.

12 classic holiday songs for solo fingerpicking guitar including performance notes, multi-level arrangements and an audio recording make for a good repertoire of the season. And, thankfully, there is the much needed ‘Look inside’ feature on the Amazon page where you can get to evaluate the material in terms of your ability.

Listing of songs (12)

Easy

  • It came upon the midnight clear
  • The First Noel
  • O come, little children
  • Silent Night

Intermediate

  • Go tell it on the mountain
  • Let all mortal flesh keep silence
  • Joy to the world
  • O little town of Bethlehem

More challenging

  • Winter wonderland
  • Angels we have heard on high
  • Have yourself a merry little Christmas
  • In Dulci Jubilo

8. Christmas Carols for Advanced Acoustic Guitar

Yet another publication mainly for the acoustic guitar and easily applicable to the classical guitar as well. This is for intermediate to advanced players and contains 14 Christmas carols in performance worthy arrangements. More than just a book of “Christmas tunes”, each piece includes performance notes that explain special techniques used in the piece. 

These techniques are explained well and the online audio download will also help in the actual execution. These include natural and artificial harmonics, two-handed tapping, percussive effects and DADGAD tuning (interesting, if you haven’t tried).

These arrangements are meant to challenge and stretch the ability of a fingerpicking player by way of executing multi-part harmony. A classical guitarist will receive no less value.

Every arrangement is in standard notation as well as in tablature. The audio download not only includes the playing of each tune but also lessons on executing advanced techniques like harmonics and tapping. In addition, there is a video download as well for two of the songs: God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen and Silent Night for learning from actual performances.

This is a book you will return to over the years for its well crafted material.

List of songs (14)

  • The First Noel
  • We Wish You a Merry Christmas
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas
  • Hark the Herald Angels Sing
  • Coventry Carol
  • Deck the Hall
  • Good King Wenceslas
  • Jingle Bells
  • God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen
  • Away in a Manger
  • O Christmas Tree
  • We Three Kings
  • The Holly and the Ivy
  • Silent Night

_____________________

I have also compiled a list of books for duets: Top Classical Guitar Duets for Christmas. Check it out for the festive season if you play with a partner.

Thinking of gifting a classical guitar player this season (including yourself)? Here are some Great Gifting Ideas for Christmas for Classical Guitarists.

Merry Christmas!

Narayan Kumar

Narayan Kumar is a passionate classical guitarist and an online research buff. He is also one half of the online classical guitar duo DuJu who put out guitar duets regularly on their YouTube channel. Read more about Narayan.

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