Christmas Portrait

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Christmas Portrait
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 13, 1978
ProducerRichard Carpenter, Karen Carpenter (associate)
Carpenters chronology
Christmas Portrait
Made in America
Professional ratings
Review scores
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[2]

Christmas Portrait is the first Christmas album and ninth studio album by the American music duo Carpenters, released on October 13, 1978.


The album includes a revised version of the duo's signature Christmas song, "Merry Christmas Darling", featuring re-recorded vocals by Karen Carpenter (done at her request).[3] It also includes one of two versions of "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" (a slower version, recorded in 1974, as well as other unused songs recorded during this album's sessions, were issued on the Carpenters' later Christmas album, An Old-Fashioned Christmas).

Album artwork[edit]

The original album cover by Robert Tanenbaum is modeled on Norman Rockwell's 1960 painting "Triple Self-Portrait", done as a cover for The Saturday Evening Post.

CD reissues[edit]

The standard CD version of Christmas Portrait, first issued in 1984, is a "Special Edition" compendium of selected tracks from the Carpenters' two Christmas albums into one 70-minute program, with tracks from each interspersed in the running order; "Ave Maria" was remixed at this time in order to include a choral track that vanished in 1978 and was later found. A CD of the original LP content was briefly issued exclusively in West Germany around the same time.

In 1996, a two-CD set titled Christmas Collection was issued internationally, containing Christmas Portrait and An Old-Fashioned Christmas together with their original respective track listings.

Commercial performance[edit]

On April 16, 1998, Christmas Portrait was certified Platinum by the RIAA for shipment of one million copies in the United States since its 1978 release.[4]

In December 2011, Christmas Portrait: Special Edition re-entered the Billboard 200 album sales chart at No. 150 and eventually achieved a new chart peak position of No. 126. In December 2012 and then, in December 2013, the album again re-entered the Billboard 200 album sales chart and attained a new chart peak position of No. 114. In January 2019, it reached a new peak position of No. 67 on the Billboard 200.[5] The original Christmas Portrait has not been available on its own in the US since the late-90's, when the cassette version was discontinued, so the chart action in the 2010s is for the 1984 compilation. In January 2020, it reached another new peak position of No. 56 on the Billboard 200.

By the end of November 2014, Christmas Portrait: Special Edition was the twenty-third best-selling Christmas/holiday album in the U.S. during the SoundScan era of music sales tracking (March 1991 to present), having sold 1,950,000 copies according to SoundScan.[6]

Track listing[edit]

All lead vocals by Karen Carpenter, except where noted.

1984 CD edition
1."It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" (lead vocals: R. Carpenter)0:41
2."Happy Holiday"/"The First Noel"/"March of the Toys"/"Little Jesus"/"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"/"O Little Town of Bethlehem"/"In Dulce Jubilo"/"Gesu Bambino (The Infant Jesus)"/"Angels We Have Heard on High" (overture)
3."An Old-Fashioned Christmas"
4."The Christmas Waltz"
  • Cahn
  • Styne
5."Sleigh Ride"
  • Anderson
  • Parish
6."It's Christmas Time"/"Sleep Well, Little Children"
  • Stillman
  • Young / Bergman
  • Klatzkin
7."Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
  • Blane
  • Martin
8."Santa Claus Is Coming to Town"
  • Coots
  • Gillespie
9."The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)"
  • Tormé
  • Wells
10."Carol of the Bells"
  • Leontovych
  • Wilhousky
  • Perito[a]
  • Knight[a]
11."Merry Christmas Darling"
  • Pooler
  • R. Carpenter
12."Christ Is Born"
  • Charles
  • Bartolucci
13."O Holy Night"
14."(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays"
15."Here Comes Santa Claus"/"Frosty the Snowman"/"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"/"Good King Wenceslas" (medley)3:42
16."Winter Wonderland"/"Silver Bells"/"White Christmas"
  • Bernard
  • Smith / Livingston
  • Evans / Berlin
17."Ave Maria"
  • Bach
  • Gounod
  • Knight[a]
18."Overture Miniature"/"Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy"/"Valse des fleurs" (selections from Nutcracker)5:27
19."Little Altar Boy"Howlett Peter Smith3:43
20."I'll Be Home for Christmas"
  • Gannon
  • Kent
  • Ram
21."Silent Night"
  • Gruber
  • Mohr
  • Young
  • Knight[a]


  • ^a signifies adapted by


"Merry Christmas Darling"[edit]

  • US 7" single (1970) – A&M 1236
  1. "Merry Christmas Darling"
  2. "Mr. Guder"
  • UK 7" single (1971) – AME601
  1. "Merry Christmas Darling"
  2. "Ticket to Ride"
  3. "Saturday"
  • UK 7" single (1990) – AM716
  1. "Merry Christmas Darling"
  2. "(They Long to Be) Close to You"
  • UK 7" single (1990) – AMS716
  1. "Merry Christmas Darling"
  2. "(They Long to Be) Close to You"
  • UK 12" single (1990) – AMY716
  1. "Merry Christmas Darling"
  2. "You're the One"
  3. "(They Long to Be) Close to You"
  • UK CD single (1990) – AMCD716
  1. "Merry Christmas Darling"
  2. "(They Long to Be) Close to You"
  3. "You're the One"

"Christmas Song"[edit]

  • US 7" single (1977) – A&M 1991
  1. "Christmas Song"
  2. "Merry Christmas Darling"
  • JP 7" single (1977) – CM-2083
  1. "Christmas Song"
  2. "Merry Christmas Darling"
  • JP CD single (1996) – PODM-1059
  1. "Christmas Song"
  2. "Winter Wonderland/Silver Bells/White Christmas"

"Silent Night"[edit]

  • JP 7" single (1978) – AMP 1012
  1. "Silent Night"
  2. "Jingle Bells"
  3. "Ave Maria"

"Ave Maria"[edit]

  • JP CD single (1996) – PODM-1065
  1. "Ave Maria"
  2. "Merry Christmas Darling"


Chart performance for Christmas Portrait
Chart (1978–2023) Peak
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[7] 74
US Billboard 200[8] 56
US Top Holiday Albums[9] 5


  1. ^ AllMusic review
  2. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Christian Hoard (2004). The Rolling Stone Album Guide. New York City: Simon and Schuster. p. 140. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  3. ^ Garrett, Thad (19 December 2017). "The American Christmas Songbook: "Merry Christmas, Darling" (1970)". 620 Michigan Ave., N.E. Washington, DC 20064: The Catholic University of America. Archived from the original on 16 December 2019. Retrieved 16 December 2019. In 1978, at Karen's request, the vocals were re-recorded for the release of Christmas Portrait, their first Christmas album.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  4. ^ "RIAA Searchable Database". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2014-12-02.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Carpenters Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  6. ^ "The Gifts That Keep on Giving: Biggest Radio and Album Hits of the Holidays". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 2014-12-01. Retrieved 2014-12-02.
  7. ^ "Carpenters Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved January 4, 2023.
  8. ^ "Carpenters Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved February 29, 2020.
  9. ^

External links[edit]