Christmas

Top 10 Best Christmas Songs of All Time ~ 2

Christmas – there’s no other holiday in which music plays such a major role. And what a blessing that so much of the music of Christmas centers around the incarnation of our Savior! At no other time of the year are you likely to turn on a secular radio station or walk into a store and hear songs about Jesus. It’s one of the things that makes Christmas music so special.

You’ve heard my picks for the ten worst Christmas songs (and volume 2!) and my top ten favorites, and you’ve asked for more! So, here, in no particular order, and according to nothing other than my own preferences, is my next round of 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.)

1.
Joy to the World

As Christians, many things in this life bring us sadness and discouragement: grief over our sin, prodigal children, death of loved ones, persecution, suffering. There is no better antidote to our sorrows than to focus on the joy we have in Christ. This is a beautiful, classical-style rendition of Joy to the World.

2.
Light of the Stable

I love this song’s upbeat focus on Jesus as Light, King, and Savior. I can almost imagine myself in Bethlehem, bowing down before my infant King.

3.
Silent Night

What Christmas music collective would be complete without Silent Night? Does your congregation sing this hymn at your Christmas Eve service or other special worship times? Grace Community Church does, and they sound just lovely.

4.
Come on Ring those Bells

Were you even a Christian in the 80’s if you didn’t have Evie’s Christmas album? This song probably sounds cheesy to younger ears today, but approaching the birth of Christ as “the greatest celebration of them all” definitely has a nice ring to it. (Yes, I went there. :0)

5.
Go Tell

There’s an undeniable evangelism motif in the story of Christ’s birth. Gabriel told Mary about Jesus. The angels told the shepherds the good news. And the shepherds…well they told everyone what they’d witnessed. That’s the theme of this Great Commission toe-tapper: GO. TELL.

6.
O Little Town of Bethlehem

In the eyes of the world, Bethlehem was nothing special. It wasn’t the center of commerce or the seat of governmental power. It was just a little town of no consequence. Until…Jesus. This song, sung so delightfully by these four brothers in Christ, reminds us that Jesus is what makes the ordinary… extraordinary.

7.
Beautiful Star of Bethlehem

In a magnificent use of metaphor, this song casts Jesus Himself as the beautiful “star” of Bethlehem. And indeed, for Believers, Jesus is that “star divine,” lighting and guiding the way “unto the land of perfect day,” when we finally see Him, in all of His glory, face to face.

8.
Ordinary Baby

Jesus was fully God, but sometimes we forget that He was also fully man. And not just fully man, but an ordinary, nondescript man. He was approachable, not elite. Personable, not intimidating. Accessible to kings and paupers alike. The Erwin siblings deliver this simple song with smooth and mellow charm.

9.
We Are the Reason

The tradition of Christmas time gift giving is an homage to the gifts the wise men gave Jesus. But what about the “greatest gift of our lives” that Jesus gave us? He gave all He could give to us: His life, forgiveness of sin, salvation. Avalon handily dusts off this CCM classic and freshens it up for a 21st century audience.

10.
O Holy Night

Christ, the thrill of hope, entered our darkened world on that holy night so long ago. As the soft, plaintive melody gradually swells into a great and glorious crescendo, we are reminded of how long the world pined away in sin and error, punctuated by the resplendent arrival of her Savior and King, much the same way we await His second coming today.

 

Bonus Nomination: Best Christmas Album

This is largely a nostalgic, rather than theological, nomination. My favorite Christmas record album growing up was Have a Happy Holiday with Lorne Greene. If you appreciate a classic, masculine baritone, you’ll want to grab a copy. (I still have mine!)

In part 1 of the album – The Stories of Christmas – Lorne reads ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and The Gift of the MagiPart 2 – The Songs of Christmas – includes Home for the Holidays, Jingle Bells, Christmas Is A-Comin’and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. Part 3 – The Holy Night: A Christmas Cantata – (below) is a reading of the birth narrative from the gospels interspersed with various Christmas carols. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I still do.

 

What’s your favorite Christmas song of all time?

Christmas

Top 10 Best Christmas Songs of All Time

Originally published December 11, 2015Christmas 10 Best Songs

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.)

 

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. I highly recommend the artists, Go Fish.

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.

What’s your pick for best Christmas song of all time?

Christmas

Top 10 Best Christmas Songs of All Time

Originally published December 11, 2015Christmas 10 Best Songs

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.)

 

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. I highly recommend the artists, Go Fish.

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.

What’s your pick for best Christmas song of all time?

Worship

What I’m Listening To (the one with the music)

 

Most of the time, if I’m listening to something, I’m listening to podcasts. (If you want to check out the ones I like, look to your left under “Blogs and Podcasts I Follow”.)

But when I run, I sometimes listen to music. Most of my “Running Music” playlist is up tempo Southern Gospel. I happen to like Southern Gospel music. I like multi-part harmony and antiphonal songs. I like actual singing (as opposed to the breathy moaning so popular in vocal music today). And I like the fact that I can pick just about any Southern Gospel song at random and know I’m going to hear clear and specific references to Jesus, the cross, sin, repentance, the Bible, and Heaven. None of these veiled allusions to something that might be biblical. Nothing that could be confused for a love song to the lyricist’s girlfriend. I like my gospel unmistakable.

I also choose Southern Gospel because it’s easy to find up tempo songs. I tend to match my running pace to the beat of the music, so slow songs aren’t going to cut it. I’ve tried finding upbeat, doctrinally sound contemporary worship songs with little success.

So here are a few favorites I run to. What are you listening to these days?

He Made A Change

 

Goodbye World, Goodbye

 

Hallelujah, I’m Going Home

 

I Believe It All

 

Can He, Could He, Would He?

Christmas

Top 10 Best Christmas Songs of All Time

Originally published December 11, 2015Christmas 10 Best Songs

Christmas songs. Everybody’s got a favorite or two, or ten! I’ve given you my list of the ten worst. 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.)

 

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. I highly recommend the artists, Go Fish.

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.

What’s your pick for best Christmas song of all time?