I love Christmas music, although listening to the radio at this time of year can really drive one crazy. You’re probably no different than me, because if you hear one more pop starlet cover “Santa Baby,” or Paul McCartney sing “Wonderful Christmastime” or that hear that dreaded song “The Christmas Shoes,” you might convert from being a jolly person into being Ebenezer Scrooge. Now that those songs are in your head (sorry!), I want to do my best to get them out. Two years ago I created a Christmas playlist near the end of the season. It’s kind of a shame I did it so late, because people were tired of the songs on the radio and one more Christmas song was the last thing they wanted to hear. So this year, I decided to share some songs you might not be as familiar with, and will set your heart to focus on the birth of the Savior.
For some of these songs I’ve added my own commentary or memories, and I’d love if you would add any songs that are special to you in the comments. Make it your Christmas Gift to ParkingSpace23.
Alright, without further ado, here we go a caroling…
First off, you can visit a playlist I put together on Spotify (yes, this may be construed as shameless self-promotion), called Christmas (and only Christmas songs). I’m always adding to it as I find new stuff. Right now there’s over 20 hours of music you can start listening to.
Secondly, The music department of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA puts on a spectacular Christmas concert every year, that is always a highlight of the season. In fact, in one LA newspaper last year, it was listed as one of the 5 “Must Do” Christmas events in LA area. You can watch last years full concert right here. (I suggest you especially watch/listen to Carmella Jones at the 1:17:20 mark)
Hallelujah Chorus, by G.F. Handel from the Messiah
I have to include one of my favorites. While Handel wrote this Chorus to be sung in his famous oratorio as a celebration after the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, this song is certainly a favorite of many around Christmas time.
O Magnum Mysterium
Haunting and beautiful, I first heard this song in college, and I’ve loved it ever since because it dwells upon the awe and wonder of God condescending to man in such a humble fashion
O great mystery, and wonderful sacrament,
That animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear Christ the Lord.
David Phelps has one of my favorite voices and here he is singing this beautiful song with his sister Sherri. Confession: this song is on my playlist year-round
Beautiful Star of Bethlehem
I had to add this little country carol because it reminds me of Christmas as a kid. My mother loves this song and Christmas isn’t complete until I’ve heard it.
Here With Us
You may know Joy Williams as the voice from “The Civil Wars,” but she has done several solo projects as well, including this song.
Mary’s Magnificat (Holy Is His Name)
This isn’t a well-known song, but it’s a beautiful interpretation of Mary’s words upon finding out from the Angel Gabriel that she was going to bear the Son of God (Luke 1:46-55).
Lo! How a Rose E’er Blooming
This has always been one of my favorite carols, and I’m a sucker for Renée Fleming’s voice.
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
This is my friend Christian Ebner with whom I had the opportunity to sing with on a couple occasions. His Christmas album is a must for me during the Christmas season. Check it out on iTunes. I love the textual changes he makes to this classic Christmas song and causes us to focus upon the meaning of Christmas, rather than just sentimentality.
All is Well
Michael W. Smith has a couple great Christmas Albums, but this is probably my favorite song out of all of them.
Good Christian Men Rejoice
Phil Keaggy is so enjoyable because of his great skill, and this arrangement is exciting to me. I think you’ll want to check out the rest of this album
Born To Die
Bebo Norman… Doesn’t his name just make you want to hear what he has to say? A great song that reminds us of the bittersweet side to the Christmas story.
Amy Grant is the Queen of the Christmas Album. This was on her first one and it clearly reflects on the awe of Jesus leaving His rightful throne to redeem sinful man.
Breath of Heaven
Amy followed up with this song sung by every teenage girl in the 90s, but it’s still is a great song.
Welcome To Our World
One of the most haunting melodies, sung by one of the most beautiful voices in the world and accompanied by Yo-Yo Ma. It doesn’t get better than this.
O Children Come
If you’ve read any of my past blogs, you’ll know that I always have to insert a Keith & Kristyn Getty song reference in somehow. This song sounds like they were listening to the “O Brother, Where Art Thou” soundtrack when Kristyn got inspired to write.
Throwing in another David Phelps. This song unfolds the drama and excitement of that first Christmas night in a spectacular way.
Mariah Carey, All I want for Christmas is you… to sing more songs like this instead of that other one.
Go Tell It On the Mountain
Steven Curtis Chapman is so gifted, and even though his album The Music of Christmas came out in 1995, it’s still one of my favorites. But he’s released some additional Christmas albums, because he’s SCC and he doesn’t age, so he can do what he wants.
It Wasn’t His Child
How often do we think of Joseph’s perspective AFTER the nativity story? This song reflects on that.
Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful)
I love that pop radio stations play this Celine Dion arrangement at Christmas time. It’s wonderful to hear the Christ of Christmas exalted over the airwaves. Let’s just pray that the message of the music penetrates the hearts of those listening. Have you ever done that? Taken a moment to pray for the listening audience when you hear these kinds of songs going over the airwaves? Start now.
Nothing to add to this… except check out those sleeves!
Mary’s Boy Child/Oh My Lord
From the sublime to the absolute ridiculous. I grew up with Boney M being synonymous with Christmas. If you’re not familiar with them, they were a Jamaican Disco group that took world by storm and their Christmas album will be playing in my house this Christmas and for many years to come.
and just because…
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR from ParkingSpace23!!