When it comes to ecumenism, it seems to me that hardly anything is as ecumenistic as a Christmas Carol. In churches throughout the world you can find traditional carols being sung that were written Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, and on and on. These traditional carols written across denominational lines emphasize the wonder that a child was born unto us who would redeem us from our sins. The basis of ecumenism is to find our commonalities while not ignoring doctrinal differences. When it comes to the Christ Child he is both common to us all and wonderful to us all.
When we are singing these great traditional carols we are not thinking that Silent Night was written by a German priest, Hark the Herald Sings by Methodist founder Charles Wesley, or LIttle Town of Bethlehem by an American Episcopalian priest Phillips Brooks. Instead we look to the beauty of the carol and the doctrinal purity they contain about the incarnation. While it is also fun to find the history of a specific carol as to when it was written and who wrote it; finding this out does not ruin it for us just because it was written by someone from a different ecclesiastical point of view.
As the Angels sang to the shepherds, Christmas Carols are also accessible to men of good will. These traditional carols can transcend the line of belief in Christianity. As I wrote in my conversion story it was the traditional Christmas Carol that I most loved even as a young atheist and then throughout my life. While I also enjoy the songs containing Christmas trappings or Christmas weather they were always a second tier for me and songs about the birth of Christ were always preeminent even I did not have a clue about the theology of the incarnation and my need for a redeemer – at least on a conscious level. No doubt this is also true for other non-Christians and these songs could be used as a vehicle for grace and conversion as was done in my case.