My family celebrates Christmas, and music has always been a big part of the holiday for us. I initially published this post in December of 2014 as a “Top 5” list of my favorite Christmas albums, but the past few years has produced a couple new albums that we’ve now enjoyed for long enough to make this a Top 7 list!
7. 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.”
6. The Light Came Down – Josh Garrels
I’ve been enjoying Josh Garrels’ music for years, especially his album “Love & War & The Sea In Between.” Garrels has a unique voice that grows on you, and similarly, his interpretation of a host of Christmas songs (and the addition of a few of his own) took me some time (a couple years, actually) to really sink into. But the work is now done, and this album likely received the most spins on this list in 2018.
5. 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.
4. 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.
3. Behold (Deluxe) – Lauren Daigle
Lauren Daigle came out of nowhere as her late 2018 release “Look Up Child” took the charts by storm, but my introduction to Daigle came in the form of her Christmas album, “Behold.” The combination of her sultry vocals and the throw-back (and exceptional!) instrumentation both inspired the expansion of this list and sent her album straight into the Top 3!
2. Oh for Joy – David Crowder Band
This album undoubtedly racks up the most total spins for a Christmas album in our iTunes catalog—especially because it’s my kids’ favorite by far (and well loved by their parents also). Crowder brings energy to every song, and never loses his trademark sense of humor either, evidenced by his 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.
Happy Hanukkah to those who’ve been celebrating, 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 favorite list, I’d love to see it!