Contemporary Christmas songs have lines like "Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow" and "I don't know if there'll be snow, but have a cup of cheer." "Silver Bells," which is not an awful song, has lines like "Ring-a-ling, hear them sing." "The Little Drummer Boy" is actually a pretty good song -- decent, if done-before, plot, a retelling of "Jongleur de Notre Dame" and a bunch of other things, and it does have one interesting image -- "Mary nodded, ba-rup-bup-bup-bum, the ox and lamb kept time..." It could be a windup Swiss clock version of the Nativity scene.
But the old carols have moments of inspired language -- the sweet assonance of "Sleep in heavenly peace." The disturbing yet reassuring concept of "God and sinners reconciled." The Robert Burnsian imagery of "The Holly and the Ivy." The compounded swell of descriptive adjectives in "faithful, joyful and triumphant."
Merry Christmas, all.