Christmas songs. Everybody’s got a favorite or two, or ten! I’ve given you my list of the ten worst (and volume 2!). Now, in no particular order (mostly), and according to nothing other than my own preferences, here are my nominations for the ten best Christmas songs ever.
(Note: I do not necessarily endorse all of the songwriters or performers listed below, the churches/organizations they represent, any other songs they may have written or performed, or their theology. If you decide to follow any of these people or groups, check out their theology first to make sure it’s biblical.)
Need a playlist? Here you go!
1. Hark the Herald Angels Sing– Ok, so this one is in a particular order. It’s my favorite because of the awesome gospel theology wrapped in ribbons of beautiful wording. Just a few of my favorite phrases:
God and sinners reconciled
Veiled in flesh the godhead see, hail th’ incarnate deity
Mild, He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth
2. It’s About the Cross– This is my favorite “non-carol” Christmas song. The beginning of the story is wonderful and great, but it’s the ending that can save you and that’s why we celebrate. The incarnation of Christ has always been about the cross and the resurrection.
3. Handel’s Messiah– Yes, I know it’s way more than one song, but, having performed it several times, I can honestly say I love the whole thing. Much of it is Scripture (verbatim) set to some of the best music ever written for a choir. Phenomenal.
4. Glorious Impossible– One of the more recent Christmas songs out there, it’s chock full of allusions to Scripture and the gospel. I think the Gaither Vocal Band does a really nice job on it.
5. Angels We Have Heard on High– It adequately handles the Christmas narrative, but I have to admit, I love this song for the chorus. It has a beautiful, intricately-woven, nearly ethereal sounding harmonic structure, and a simple, yet profound message: “Glory to God in the highest.”
6. Jesus, What a Wonderful Child– Sometimes a great song is packed with good theology, and sometimes a great song expresses one simple idea. Jesus, What a Wonderful Child is one of the latter. If you’ve read the title, you’ve got the main idea. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun!
7. Sweet Little Jesus Boy– I love how this song captures the idea that when Jesus came the first time, “we didn’t know who You were.” And nobody does it like Mahalia Jackson.
8. Christmas Offering– This song draws the parallel between the offerings of the wise men and our offering of worship, the gift our King most desires.
9. Christ is Born– I know, I know, it’s twangy and most people don’t like Southern Gospel music. That’s OK, I do. And you’ve gotta love a Christmas song that starts out with the Fall of Man.
10. Rejoice With Exceeding Great Joy– This is another one that made the list because of the music. The lyrics are a simple retelling of the journey of the magi, but the music just takes you right out to the desert and plops you down on a camel’s back.