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Home Songs The Top 5 Ukulele Christmas Songs with 3 Chords

The Top 5 Ukulele Christmas Songs with 3 Chords

Learning to play these songs is not that complicated at all!

by Michael Vogelsang

When it comes to learning how to play a new song on the ukulele, it’s always a bit of a relief when you discover that the song isn’t too complicated to begin with. Specifically, when there are very few chords to learn and memorize, it makes learning the song a much quicker and easier experience, as well as being more fun to play.

This is no different when it comes to learning how to play some of the all-time greatest Christmas songs on your uke. In fact, many classic Christmas songs only have three chords, which makes them even more appealing to want to learn.

In this article, we picked our top five ukulele Christmas songs that only have three chords. All of them are classics that everyone knows and loves, and they all have their own unique styles. We’ll get into which chords you have to play and the order in which you play them, as well as breaking down their strumming patterns.

So, let’s get to our list of the top five ukulele Christmas songs with three chords, and be sure to check out our collection of Christmas song books at our online store: store.ukelikethepros.com

Away in A Manger

Though the origins of this classic holiday carol are not completely known, it has become one of the most popular and recognizable songs throughout the world, having been first published in the late-1800s.

Learning the Chords

The only chords you will have to play for this song are C, F and G. You’ll have to do a little switching around because some of the chords repeat themselves during the verses, but the verses are identical as far as which order to play them and for how long. Also, this song is in 3/4 time, meaning that you strum three beats for each measure. So, the first chord is C for 6 beats, F for 3 beats, C for 3 beats, G for 6 beats, F for 3 beats, and then C for 3 beats. Again, the verses simply repeat themselves without any additional changes.

Learning the Strumming

As mentioned, Away in a Manger is in 3/4 time, which may get a little tricky if you’re a beginner, so it’s recommended that when first learning the song, you strum all of the chords with downward strokes. But once you get comfortable with the strumming and chord changes, you can add in some short, upward strokes to give the song a little more elegance. Regardless of how you choose to play it, keep in mind that it’s a quiet song, so your strumming should be gentle.

Don’t miss out on our Ukulele Christmas Course 

Joy to the World

This traditional holiday carol was written in 1719 but has certainly stood the test of time over the years. Originally written as a biblical hymn, it has gone on to become the most published Christmas hymn in North America.

Learning the Chords

The chords for this song are D, G and C, and some of these chords will be played for what may seem like a long time before you switch to the next chord, but don’t let the slightly unusual timing intimidate you. Also, the verses all repeat themselves throughout the song, making it easy for uke players of all skill levels to master it in no time. So, the chords are G for 4 beats, D for 2 beats, G for 2 beats, C for 2 beats, D for 2 beats, G for 16 beats, D for 4 beats, G for 4 beats, D for 2 beats, and then G for 4 beats.

Learning the Strumming

Even though Joy to the World is a more upbeat Christmas carol, it’s a song that sounds good at virtually whatever tempo and strumming pattern feels comfortable to you. It’s in 4/4 time, so if you’re a beginner, you may want to try learning it by only playing slow, downward strokes. But once you get used to all of the chord changes, you can throw in some short upward strokes to give the song a little more island flavor. One of the great things about Jot to the World is that it can be played very quietly or as loud as you want. It’s a song about celebration, so make sure that you are enjoying yourself while playing it. Take a look at all of our great gift ideas for ukulele players.

The First Noel

The First Noel is rooted in Cornish origin and considered to be a classic among traditional English Christmas carols. Originally published in 1823, The First Noel’s sweet, gentle melody and lyrics have made it one of the most revered holiday songs ever written.

Learning the Chords

C, F and G are the only chords that you will need to play in this song, and because it’s typically meant to be played slowly, gently and quietly, it’s a great song for beginners. Also, the chord changes don’t happen very quickly, and the verses and the chords have the same chord progressions that simply repeat themselves throughout the entire song, making it even easier to learn. So, In 3/4 time, the chords are C for 3 beats, G for 3 beats, F for 3 beats, C for 3 beats, F for 3 beats, C for 3 beats, F for 3 beats, and then C for 3 beats.

Learning the Strumming

The First Noel is in 3/4 time, but it’s very easy to learn with simply playing all of the chords with downward strums on your uke. As mentioned, it’s a slow and quiet song, but it becomes very easy to increase the speed of your strumming and your tempo after a little practice. The structure and chord changes are basic enough for you to gradually insert some quick upstrokes here and there, and even play it with island strumming or a swing beat pattern.

Silent Night

Blue Christmas ukulele

Originally written in Austria in 1818, Silent Night has gone on to become one of the most beloved Christmas songs in history, having been recorded by several popular artists over the years and even being recognized by UNESCO in 2011.

Learning the Chords

The chords for Silent Night are G, D and C, but there is a good amount of chord changes throughout the song. However, its slow tempo makes it easy to learn, especially since it’s meant to be played at a slower speed. The timing of the chords may seem a little tricky at first, but if you follow along, you’ll get the hang of it in no time. The chords, in order and with their beats, are G for 12 beats, D for 6 beats, G for 6 beats, C for 6 beats, G for 6 beats, C for 6 beats, G for 6 beats, D for 6 beats, G for 9 beats, D for 3 beats, and then G for 6 beats.

Learning the Strumming

This song is in 3/4 time, but it’s very easy to follow along to since the tempo and strumming are very slow. The best way to learn it and understand the timing of the different chords is to begin by playing with only downward strums, but as you progress, you’ll find that the simplicity of the song will make it easy to incorporate some light and quick upstrokes toward the end of each measure. Also, even though the song is traditionally meant to played slowly, it can be very fun to experiment with it to make it more upbeat.

Download a FREE ukulele chord chart here.

O Christmas Tree

Ukulele Christmas

O Christmas Tree (Also known as O Tanenbaum) originated in Germany and was not written to initially be a Christmas carol. However, by the mid-1800s, it became associated with the holiday season and, over time, has become a very recognizable and popular carol.

Learning the Chords

Even though this article is about the top 5 Christmas songs with 3 chords, this song works equally as well with only two chords. The main chords are C and G7, with an optional A-minor if you want to add an extra ingredient, but the A-minor is not totally necessary. The song is in 3/4 time and the chord changes are very simple due to the slow tempo of the song. The verses repeat themselves and, for each measure, the chords are C for 6 beats, G7 for 3 beats, C for 9 beats, G7 for 3 beats, C for 6 beats, G7 for 6 beats, C for 6 beats, A-minor for 3 beats (optional), G7 for 3 beats, and then C for 6 beats.

Learning the Strumming

Given its 3/4 time structure, it might take a little practice to feel like you’ve got it right, but the more you practice, the more confident you will become at playing O Christmas Tree on your uke. It’s preferable to play this song with one full downward stroke and then with one half-downward strum, one half-upward strum, and then one half-downward strum with each measure, but it’s a good idea to start by playing the entire song with only full-downward strums until you feel confident with the timing and the chord changes.

Practicing and Mastering the Songs

As with learning any new songs, learning how to play Christmas songs on your ukulele can be a super fun experience that will certainly enhance your holiday season. Also, with these particular songs, having to play only three chords will make learning and playing them even more fun and easy.

But, while you are learning how to play them, be sure to take your time, focus on your strumming and chord changes, and above all, make sure that you enjoy your learning experience.

Also, be sure to check out our collection of online lessons, books, and our online store for all your ukulele needs.

And become a patreon member to get the backing tracks and sheet music for all of these songs to enhance your ukulele playing experience.

Enjoy your playing!

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