It comes after a year which has seen a number of terror attacks, including mass shootings in Paris and the killing of 39 people at a Tunisian resort.
During the broadcast, the Queen acknowledged the birth of Princess Charlotte, her fifth great-grandchild.
She also made a light-hearted reference to her forthcoming 90th birthday.
Reflecting on the past year, the Queen described the festive period as “a time to remember all that we have to be thankful for”.
Sitting at a desk in Buckingham Palace’s 18th Century Room, she said: “It is true that the world has had to confront moments of darkness this year, but the Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope, often read at Christmas carol services: ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’”
This year’s message, produced by ITN, began with images of Buckingham Palace taken by a drone rising into the sky.
A montage of royal engagements featuring senior members of the Royal Family – including the state opening of Parliament and family members gathering on Buckingham Palace’s balcony after the Trooping the Colour ceremony – was then shown before the Queen began her address.
Members from Bath Bach Choir, Exeter Festival Chorus and the Bath Camerata accompanied the footage, first humming and then singing the national anthem.