I love Christmas music of all sorts, and every year, I’m on the lookout for new or unique and creative expressions from a variety of artists. Some I would heartily recommend are…
Sara Groves O Holy Night
One of our most consistently thoughtful and engaging songwriters, Groves is in her element with the Christmas theme. With It’s True she sings “in your heart, you hope it’s true, though your heart holds no expectation; in the deepest part of you, there’s an open hesitation. But it’s true—kingdoms and crowns, the God who came down to find you. It’s true—angels on high sing through the night, Alleluia.” That’s the sort of song that might plant a seed in the mind of your unbelieving friend. On the other hand, Toy Packaging expresses the honest Christmas Eve struggles of every parent.
Erin O’Donnell Christmas Time is Here
This is just a very good album across the board—a nice mix of traditional songs, standards and fresh new songs. Christmas Kiss is a love song with a twist. Waiting for Love to be Born is a reminder of what goes on in the interplay between family times and the spiritual meaning of Christmas:” I can’t sleep, I am so glad to be home. On this early morning, I’m not alone. This is the season; this is the time. I see the face of a child and that face it is mine. I’m looking for starlight and I’m listening for angels. Everyone is asleep on this Christmas morning. But I’m awake and I’m waiting here for love again to be born.”
Sovereign Grace Worship, Savior
Sovereign Grace is a ministry that has been developing songs and contemporary hymns for the local church that are musically interesting, singable and theologically rich. These are gospel- saturated songs like Hope has Come: “Let us join with the angel voices, let us join their happy song. All of heaven and earth rejoices, for the Lamb of God has come! He has come to rescue sinners, come to meet our desperate need. He was born to bring forgiveness; born for Calvary. Alleluia, hope has come! Alleluia, Christ has come! We once were slaves in misery, ‘til you appeared to set us free. Alleluia, hope has come!” Then, Sleep, Jesus, Sleep is one of the most lovely and haunting Mary lullabies ever (the only one better is Andrew Peterson’s It Was Not a Silent Night). Listen: “Sleep, Jesus, Sleep. We’ve come to see You who never closed Your eyes, watching over earth and skies, now in frail humanity, must sleep…Sovereign One, born as Mary’s Son, Prince of Peace, one day you’ll deliver me…but now sleep.”
Sojourn, Advent Songs
From Louisville’s Sojourn Church comes a collection of old hymns and new songs arranged in a raw, indie style and reflecting the already/not yet tension of the Advent season. These are deeply rooted in Biblical teachings and are perfect for individual, family and congregational worship. Available for purchase or pay-what you-can.
James Taylor, At Christmas
Chicago, 25- The Christmas Album
Ok, this is a nod to some of my all-time favorites. Both stay true to the styles and unique sounds that have made them lasting pop icons. Taylor’s acoustic guitar and gentle storytelling makes traditional songs like ‘In the Bleak Mid-Winter”, just lovely while the driving blues behind Jingle Bells makes that old favorite come alive. Chicago’s horn section sounds like their early work adding just the right accent to God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and even Santa Claus is Coming to Town has the vocal vibe of the Kath-Cetera years. Good stuff.
Don’t forget Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb or the instrumentals of Chris Rice (Living Room Sessions- Christmas). I’m looking forward to hearing Christmas from Jill Phillips and Andy Gullahorn, Christmas: The Irrational Season from Carolyn Arends and even (for something completely different) Joy to the World by Pink Martini, which I heard at Starbucks last week.
That’s a taste of my Christmas I-Pod playlist. What’s on yours?