In 1840, composer Felix Mendelssohn submitted two works for a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press.
The first was his Symphony No. 2. The other was a now-forgotten work for male chorus, whose tune would be borrowed 16 years later by a British hymnist to create one of the most famous of all Christmas carols.
In the next hour, classical works like Mendelssohn’s that have inspired Christmas songs, plus several traditional Christmas songs that have found their way into works by Respighi, Liszt, Bizet, Orff, and many others.