‘Tis the season!
For overplayed Christmas music that would make even the jolliest listeners into Scroogy humbugs. So today, I will present a roundup of five great Christmas albums. These records are from a variety of artists, filled with their unique renditions of familiar Christmas songs that are also blended with original songs that stay true to the artists’ individual styles.
Shane and Shane, Glory in the Highest – In keeping with their unique sound, acoustic guitars, rhythmic melodies, and beautiful harmonies resound throughout this album. Traditional Christmas carols are elevated with their talent on guitars and vocal arrangement. Shane and Shane change up the meter of “O Holy Night” to transform it into a pop-infused hit, and turn "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas" into a beautiful duet with Bethany Dillon. There isn’t a song on this album that I want to skip over, especially their original entitled "Born to Die." It speaks of the reality of the Gospel message of this season that Christ was born to die.
Future of Forestry, Advent Christmas EP - This album is appropriate for those who are bored with Christmas music a day after it hits the radio. These collections of songs don’t fit the top 40 standard or the songs your grandmother listened to. They are fresh, hip and, penetrate the soul like a cup of hot chocolate on a cold night. The EPs are indie, electronic, and melodic, meant to be listened to with a fire roaring and a warm beverage in your hand, reflecting on the Christmas story in Luke 2. True to the form of Future of Forestry, a relatively unknown but nonetheless extremely creative and talented ambient rock band, their Christmas album flies under the radar but not without notice by those who appreciate complex and modern musicality. Some of my favorite renditions are "O Come O Come Emmanuel," “What Child Is This,” and “The First Noel.”
Mariah Carey, Merry Christmas - This is arguably the greatest Christmas album of all time. It's a blend of upbeat Christmas love songs like "All I Want for Christmas Is You" and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and Gospel renditions of classics like “Silent Night” and "Jesus Born On this Day." Not known for writing and singing Christian music, Carey manages to fill the album with powerful, Spirit-filled anthems declaring and celebrating the birth of our Savior. Her Gospel Roots are evident as a choir accompanies Mariah in the background, and her version of “O Holy Night” still brings chills to my bones deeper than the snow I imagine on a picturesque White Christmas.
Relient K, Let It Snow Baby, Let it Reindeer - Whenever I am in need of cheering up, I reach for any Relient K album, but during this time of year I put on this fun Christmas album. As the title suggests, this album resounds with the band's wittiness and clever lyrics set to pop-rock instrumentation and style. Every song is unique and the originals are as well-written as those that appear on their other albums, including "I Celebrate the Day" that once again sings about the purpose of Christ's birth--to die for us. In “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” the listener has to laugh because they add a chorus that resonates as they address some of the strange lyrics we sing about in Christmas songs. "What's a partridge? And what's a pear tree? I don't know so please don't ask me. But I can bet those are pretty terrible gifts to get." Put this album on while you're decorating or wrapping gifts or while Christmas shopping to keep your energy up!
Chris Tomlin, Glory in the Highest: Christmas Songs of Worship - This Christmas album is worshipful, true to Tomlin’s nature as a worship leader. It’s full of fresh renditions of old carols, like “Angels We Have Heard on High” using instruments you would hear in a Sunday morning band. It also includes Tomlin’s original singable choruses added in to familiar songs that are appropriate for corporate or private worship. The album features other artists, including Matt Redman and Christy Nockels, and in “Winter Snow” he sings with Audrey Assad about the coming of Christ as soft and quiet as a winter snow. Listen for his arrangements in church this December and rejoice that this talented worship leader, musician, and songwriter is sharing the gift that he's been given.
While you're engaged in any activity this Christmas season, from shopping and wrapping to baking and reading, reach out for these five albums. They are sure to fit any mood that you may be feeling from childhood elation to more somber reflection. And they’d be great to give as gifts too! May this season only bring joy and peace as you celebrate the birth of our Savior and enjoy warm memories with loved ones!
How about you? What Christmas CDs are you listening to? Any new ones? We’d love to hear in the Comments.
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