My Top 5 Christmas Albums

My family celebrates Christmas, and music has always been a big part of the holiday for us. So I thought I’d offer up my top five favorite Christmas albums:

5. Maybe This Christmas – Various Artists

I generally prefer more traditional Christmas music, but this contemporary compilation got my attention, especially because of the Barenaked Ladies/Sarah McLachlan rendering of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”

4. O Christmas Tree – Various Artists

Before you order this one, you should probably know the subtitle: “A Bluegrass Collection for the Holidays.” Somehow Christmas just sounds more genuine with a fiddle, banjo and three-part harmonies.

3. When My Heart Finds Christmas – Harry Connick Jr.

It seems like every crooner has a Christmas album—or three—but I’m a sucker for the sappy this time of year and this is Harry Connick Jr. at his best. Amazon Prime users can listen in for free.

2. Oh for Joy – David Crowder Band

This album probably gets the most spins of any in our iTunes catalog this time of year—it’s my kids’ favorite by a mile. Crowder brings energy to every song, and never loses his sense of humor, finishing the album with an updated Carol of the Bells.

1. Messiah – Handel

The best gift my parents ever gave my brothers and me was musical literacy. We grew up listening to—and playing—everything from Beethoven to the Beatles. But the soundtrack for every Christmas was George Frideric Handel’s oratorio, Messiah. This classical masterpiece was completed in an astounding 24 days and first performed in Dublin in 1742. However, it wasn’t until the London debut in 1743, when King George II (allegedly) rose to his feet during the Hallelujah chorus, that a tradition was born which continues to this day.

I should point you to the version I grew up with, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, but I’ve been enjoying Mozart’s expanded arrangement of Messiah in recent years.

Happy Hanukkah to those who began celebrating it this past Tuesday evening, and Merry Christmas to those who’ll be celebrating in the week to come. But however you spend this time of year, I hope that music enriches your holidays, and if you’ve got a top five list, I’d love to see it!

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