For many people, the Christmas season is about music.
This is true in my household. Our eclectic Christmas albums range from Handel’s “Messiah” to Dr. Demento.
There are a few albums I return to when I want a dose of the Bible Christmas story with my music. Here are some recommendations from the English household.
List your household’s favorites in the comments section on theadvocate.com.
‘Glory in the Highest’ by Chris Tomlin
Praise and worship singer Chris Tomlin recorded this album live with a small audience of friends and worship leaders who served as a background choir.
The album is half traditional Christmas hymns, some with a Tomlin chorus added, and some original pieces. The music of Matt Redman, Christy Nockels and Audrey Assad is also on it. The title track is among my favorites. It is an older Tomlin piece with a lovely, simple but theologically profound verse added at the end.
Assad’s “Winter Snow” is another quiet highlight, and “Joy to the World (Unspeakable Joy)” is sung with much more joy — and volume — than many congregations produce.
A deluxe edition of the album was released this year. It includes a DVD of the Rev. Louie Giglio’s sermon, “The Twelve Words of Christmas.”
PERFECT FOR: sing-along session.
‘Joy for Christmas Day’ by Kathy Mattea
This second Christmas album from Mattea has Christmas carols with interesting takes. While the melodies are still familiar, the pieces are changed. There’s a swing feel to “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” and a quiet start finishes upbeat on “Angels We Have Heard on High.” “O Come, All Ye Faithful” provides a touch of church organ and Latin before a rock-swing sound takes over. The title is from“There’s Still My Joy,” the album’s final cut. It is a great piece for people suffering during Christmas. Mattea’s first Christmas album, “Good News,” is also a wonderful listen for the season.
PERFECT FOR: working on Christmas projects or cleaning the house.
‘O Holy Night’ by Sara Groves
Sara Groves has a beautiful collection of classic Christmas carols and contemporary pieces, each given her special touch with arrangement and presentation.
Groves has mentioned wanting to record large orchestral sounds like Amy Grant but lacks the budget. This has led to a beautifully “small” and creative sound.
And for those frustrated while helping children on Christmas morning, Groves’ “Toy Packaging” may become the battle cry of the day: “Nothing makes me lose my cool like toy packaging. Kids, you really need to leave the room, mom’s opening toy packaging.”
PERFECT FOR: winding down from the stresses of the season.
‘Christmas on the Border’ by Gary Chapman and others
Ready to leave the quiet? This album calls itself “A Spicy Holiday recipe of Texas Blues, Hot Country and Mexican Salsa.”
The “border” includes Louisiana in the sounds.
Upbeat versions of “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Go Tell It on the Mountain” and more are great for a party mood.
PERFECT FOR: dancing around the house.
‘Soulful Christmas’ by Aaron Neville
Sticking to a regional sound, this was Neville’s first Christmas album.
While Neville’s smooth voice highlights standards such as “Please Come Home for Christmas,” “O Holy Night” and “The Christmas Song,” he also sings about “Louisiana Christmas Day,” a song about being on the road and promising to be home on Christmas Day.
Other less common Christmas songs include “The Bells of St. Mary’s” and “The Star Carol.”
“Such a Night” has a Christmas touch added.
In 2005, Neville also released a “Christmas Prayer.”
PERFECT FOR: chilling with a classic Louisiana voice.
Whatever your taste is in music, there is a Christmas album for you. (There’s a heavy metal one I want to purchase this year!) May your season be filled with music that lifts your spirits.