Three New Solo Guitar Arrangements of Christmas Carols for 2022

Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers shares three new solo guitar arrangements of Christmas Carols: "What Child Is This?," "O Little Town of Bethlehem," and "Jingle Bells."

With their luminous melodies and harmonies you can interpret in countless ways, Christmas carols make great material for solo guitar. Over the last few years I’ve been arranging my favorites for an ebook called Silent Nights Guitar Collection. Here are three new carols for this season, for both fingerstylists and flatpickers.

What Child Is This?

An adaptation of the English folk song “Greensleeves,” “What Child Is This?” translates beautifully to guitar—from its meditative minor key verses to its uplifting major chorus. My fingerstyle arrangement, in standard tuning, is in the key of A minor, where the melody and chords fall easily in open position.


O Little Town of Bethlehem

This lovely carol has some melodic and harmonic highlights that make it a particular favorite—such as the flatted third in the opening melody and the sweet change to the E major, which contrasts to the diatonic E minor chords found elsewhere.


This arrangement uses dropped-D tuning to play in the key of G. I added one harmonic twist of my own toward the end: I substituted a Cm6 for an Am right before the closing phrase.

Jingle Bells

Written in the 19th century by James Lord Pierpont, “Jingle Bells” is the “Wagon Wheel” of Christmas carols: incredibly catchy, irresistible to sing along with, and not exactly a surprise to hear at a holiday shindig.

Given the song’s overexposure, I was happily surprised to find a way to play it as a jazzy instrumental that is so fun and satisfying.

Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers
Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers

Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers, founding editor of Acoustic Guitar, is a grand prize winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and author of The Complete Singer-Songwriter, Beyond Strumming, and other books and videos for musicians. In addition to his ongoing work with AG, he offers live workshops for guitarists and songwriters, plus video lessons, song charts, and tab, on Patreon.

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