…that time when I go over my favorite Christmas songs. Because, you know, you need to realize that if I could I would start playing Christmas music in August. Only the threats of my family to disown me keeps me from doing so. There will be a lot of overlap between this list and prior ones. Sorry.
Religious Christmas songs:
- Barenaked Ladies and Sarah Machlalan, “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.” My favorite version of any Christmas carol, EVER.
- Pentatonix, “O Come All Ye Faithful.” This song is joyful and all too often is sung almost like a dirge. Pentatonix captures the sheer wonder and happiness of it. I can almost see the angels and the shepherds going forth to the masses.
- Josh Groban and Brian McKnight, “Angels We Have Heard On High.” Thanks for this goes to a friend who said to me, “Are you familiar with Josh Groban? He’s fabulous.” She was also responsible for my love of Straight No Chaser.
- “What Child Is This,” many different versions. I especially lean towards those which refer to “the virgin” rather than “his mother.”
- John Denver and the Muppets. “Silent Night.” Yes, those Muppets.
- El Duende, “Gaudete, Gaudete.” This is visioning music, evoking medieval swirling skirts and smoky Yule logs.
- Shinobu Sato, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” This was used as the processional for my wedding (not this lovely acoustic guitar version, but a traditional organ).
- “Go Tell It On the Mountain,” several versions. This is just a great song.
- “Simple Gifts,” Judy Collins. I’m not quite sure why this is a Christmas song, but it seems to be. Unlike a lot of Judy Collins’s work, it’s singable.
- “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” Jordan Smith. The former Voice winner put out a Christmas album a few years ago, and it’s pretty good.
Secular Christmas Songs:
- Straight No Chaser, “The Twelve Days of Christmas. This narrowly edges out “The Christmas Can-Can” and “To Christmas!”
- The Bobs, “Fifty Kilowatt Tree.” I’m from Florida, I’ve seen trees like this.
- Barenaked Ladies. “Elf’s Lament.” North Pole workers unite!
- “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” either Gayla Peevey (the original) or Kacey Musgraves. My family hates this song even more than “The Chipmunk Song.” That’s not why I love it, but it is a useful side benefit.
- Mariah Carey, “All I Want For Christmas is You.” This has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that I love Love, Actually. No, really. It doesn’t.
- Transiberian Orchestra, “Carol of the Bells.” I also really like Lindsey Stirling’s version. On second thought, I guess this is religious music. It’s a little hard to tell with instrumentals.
- James Taylor, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Taylor reverts to the original lyrics of the song, which are more melancholy than those you hear from most contemporary versions. I also love Taylor’s voice.
- Dar Williams, “The Christians and the Pagans.” While I question some of the theology presented here, the message of mutual acceptance is needed year round.
- Jill Sobule, “Merry Christmas from the Family.” This sounds fun. Dysfunctional, but fun.
- Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm.” It keeps all the rest of us warm, too.
I’ve never considered music from The Sound of Music to be Christmas music, but if I did I would not choose “All My Favorite Things” but Leslie Odom, Jr.’s haunting version of “Edelweiss.” And this doesn’t fall into the category of Christmas, but I love Peter Paul and Mary’s version of “Light One Candle.” I play it all year long, because even though it references a specific holiday it relays a message that is important for all times. “Let There Be Peace On Earth” isn’t a Christmas song either, but it’s on my playlist, even though it makes me cry because it was Mom’s favorite hymn. I know of no one who better exemplified it.
I know this is a Christmas list, but I want to wish all of you a very Happy Holidays, whichever holidays you celebrate.