Let’s talk about Christmas music. Music is on my mind today because Sunday morning our chancel choir combined with the Praise Band and completely hit it out of the park. To be honest, you really don’t need this list, instead just show up at WFPC for Sunday services and enjoy some of the best live music you will ever hear.
Ask Alexa, Siri, or your Google smart-speaker to “play Christmas music” and just about anything is likely to pop up! Sometimes it’s a fun ride but then all of a sudden “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” comes on and it’s downhill from there.
So when I have the time I would rather load our ancient DVD player with five of my favorite albums and then I’m pretty much good to go for the next several hours. We have around 25 favorites we tend to go back to so I thought you – the reader – might like a rundown of my “Top-Ten.”
Derek’s “Top-10” Christmas listening:
First, I have to be clear these are not necessarily in order. They are all wonderful, and what particularly floats my boat at any given moment is honestly going to depend on a host of unpredictable variables.
- I’m going to start with The Christmas Sessions by Mercy Me because the opening track has been our traditional “season-opener” for years. Their interpretation of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” is the foundation for probably the best Christmas Eve sermon Rebekah ever preached. I’ll try to share the story behind it one day between now and the 25th. Also, I’ve never heard a better “Silent Night.”
- Similarly, Holiday Guitar by Dan Crary is an absolute must hear. All acoustic, lively, pitch-perfect, virtuoso guitar skills, mixing blues, folk, light rock, and classical – you will be spellbound and completely inspired.
- Unlike many, I don’t like the movie… but the soundtrack from A Charlie Brown Christmas remains some of the best seasonal music available. The piano and jazz stylings are inimitable.
- For a mixture of tradition with pure voices and some amazingly creative arranging, I love love love A Festival for Christmas, recorded at London’s Royal Albert Hall and featuring Britain’s National Youth Choir.
- Just about the most hauntingly beautiful holiday music I have ever heard was created by Sarah McLachlan in her elegantly crafted album Wintersong.
- One collection that has surprised me in terms of “grows on me” is titled, simply, ELVIS Christmas. Even if you’re not an Elvis fan I dare you to listen and then not include this among your favorites.
- For pure Christmas mellow I recommend Kenny G’s miracles as – essentially – state of the art.
- You all know I’m a James Taylor fan. Well, his A Christmas Album does not disappoint. “In the Bleak Midwinter” is beyond amazing, and his arrangement of “Some Children See Him” is poignantly moving.
- Peaceful Christmas brings together a lovely combination of Harp, flute, English Horn, Cello and Guitar.
- Finally, but only because I said I’d stop at 10, I highly recommend Harry Connick Jr.s Harry for the Holidays. His performance in Tampa was probably the best live Christmas concert Rebekah and I have attended. You have to be in the mood, but his big band sound is always a lot of fun.
So there you have it. Right now I’m listening to the British National Youth Choir. I can almost smell those chestnuts roasting on an open fire in Trafalgar Square…
Happy listening – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.