I love Christmas time for many reasons. One of the reasons I love Christmas time is that it is the only season of the year when the world sings OUR music. While it is very rare that Mariah Carey, James Taylor, or Harry Connick Jr. sing songs about our Savior, the power of Christmas encourages America’s top recording artists to put great theology to music. As a result, you get American Idol winners singing the songs of Wesley and R&B singers rendering Handel’s great oratorio.
As we continue our Advent preparations, I thought I would do my best Casey Casum inpersonation and give you the top 40 Christmas songs on my iPod this advent season. These songs were selected by me and me alone, and ranked from 1-40. I am sure you disagree with me. Take a moment to check out the list and let me know your thoughts. I would love to find out what you think of the list and what songs I may have left off that are your favorites. Hope you enjoy it. Simply reply to this post to provide some feedback.
1. O Holy Night – Celine Dion . . . Not a huge Celine Dion fan, but O Holy Night is my favorite Christmas song and this is my favorite version of it.
2. Angels We Have Heard on High – David Archuleta . . . No, I did not watch him on American Idol. He just has an outstanding voice, and this version ends with Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. Awesome stuff.
3. Anthem for Christmas – Michael W. Smith . . . One of many MWS originals on the list. The man can write worship songs of an epic scale. This is off his original Christmas album.
4. Sing Noel, Sing Hallelujah – Michael W. Smith . . . Another of Smitty’s originals. Great stuff.
5. The First Noel – Josh Groban and Faith Hill . . . Two outstanding voices bring this song to life.
6. O Come, O Come Emmanuel – Christy Nockels . . . Somewhat of a forgotten Christmas hymn, this song is one of my favorites. Christy Nockels of Watermark does a great job with it.
7. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing – Chris Tomlin . . . Tomlin is a worship leader, and this recording is exactly that: a simple sing along with limited instrumentation. Great version of a classic.
8. Silent Night – Josh Groban . . . Another classic.
9. O Come All Ye Faithful – Steven Curtis Chapman . . . I love the simple refrain, “O Come Let us Adore Him.” What a great refrain for Christmas (and always).
10. Joy to the World – Casting Crowns . . . An upbeat celebration of our Savior.
11. Go Tell it On the Mountain – James Taylor . . . a bluesy acoustic version of this hymn. JT’s Christmas album is fantastic.
12. No Eye Had Seen – Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant . . . Another MWS original, sung with his friend Amy Grant. Look for use of this song at Wildwood’s Christmas Eve service this year.
13. A Strange Way to Save the World – 4 Him . . . Great song that focuses on the Christmas story from Joseph’s point of view. I have used this song in the past in worship services that use the Matthew 1 text. At two churches I have been at I have used this song as a response to a dramatic presentation of Joseph’s thoughts about the birth of the Savior.
14. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Rascal Flatts . . . Country sound adds swing to this carol. I dig it.
15. O Come All Ye Faithful – Kirk Franklin and Family . . . “O Come All Ye Faithful” is the first song with multiple entries on the list. This version is a Gospel jam type version done in classic Kirk Franklin style. I really like his sound.
16. Christmas Hymn – Amy Grant . . . I think the album this song came off of was the first serious Christmas album I ever remember listening to (The Muppets Christmas album does not count). My sister had the cassette. I have recently become reacquainted with the song. Good stuff.
17. Manger Throne – Third Day . . . Great track. This is a modern hymn/rock song that is perfectly suited for Mac Powell’s deep vox.
18. Babe in the Straw – Jars of Clay . . . Another modern sounding song with a deep and powerful message. Songs like this, the MWS originals on the list, and Manger Throne remind me that it is not the age of a song that gives it depth, but the profound truth the songs lift up and the artistry delivered in melding the words to music.
19. What Child is This? – Third Day . . . My favorite version of this classic carol.
20. We Three Kings – Harry Connick Jr. . . . This is the first instrumental on the list. It is a jazzy piano/big band version of the hymn. I am a Harry Connick fan, so I like this one. It may be too stylized for some.
21. Jingle Bells – James Taylor . . . a jazzy/bluesy version of Jingle Bells. No spiritual significance — just a song you need to hear sometime!
22. O Holy Night – Mariah Carey . . . Powerful voice. This is my second favorite version of O Holy Night – more versions come later in the list.
23. Carol of the Bells – Steven Curtis Chapman . . . This instrumental is good, but not nearly as good as Greg Hill and the Wildwood worship teams version that they play annually at Wildwood. This year’s “Carol of the Bells” Wildwood style will be played in the December 20 worship services.
24. In the Beak Midwinter – James Taylor . . . A kind of Christmas lullaby if you ask me.
25. O Come All Ye Faithful – Third Day . . . Another great version of this song.
26. Born in Bethlehem – Third Day . . . Another contemporary hymn/rock song. Good stuff.
27. Angels We Have Heard on High – Third Day . . . Another Third Day song. I love their sound.
28. Christmas in Hollis – Run DMC . . . Ok, Ok – cut me some slack. I grew up in the ’80s. No way is this my 28th favorite Christmas song, but I just thought I would check and see if you were still paying attention. Real lyric from this song, “It’s Christmas time in Hollis, Queens. Mom’s cooking chicken and collard greens. Rice and stuffing, macaroni and cheese and Santa puts gifts under Christmas trees.”
29. O Holy Night – Third Day . . . a more rocking version of this classic.
30. O Holy Night – Leigh Nash and Michael Tait . . . I like this version also. Different sound, but same great song.
31. Lux Venit – Michael W. Smith . . . Another Smitty original from his first Christmas album. Lux Venit is Latin for “The Light has come.” This phrase inspired the liturgy for the first Christmas Eve service I planned at Wildwood in 2001.
32. Christ the Messiah – Michael W. Smith . . . MWS original that puts the manger in the shadow of the cross.
33. All is Well – Michael W. Smith . . . Another song off his original Christmas album (if you haven’t guessed, his original Christmas album is my favorite Christmas album of all time).
34. Gloria – Michael W. Smith . . . Yet another MWS great.
35. O Come All Ye Faithful – Celine Dion . . . I like her version of this hymn as well.
36. Auld Lang Syne – James Taylor . . . Not really a Christmas song, but on his Christmas album. This song sounds a lot like “Sweet Baby James” if you are a JT fan.
37. The Prayer – Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli . . . I don’t know if this is really a true Christmas song either, but I think the themes of the song work well with Christmas time. I still have not heard a better version of this song (this version included) that was better than the one sung at Kenton and Ashley Brice’s wedding.
38. The Christmas Song – James Taylor . . . “Chestnutts roasting on an open fire” is a part of the American dream isn’t it?
39. Silent Night/Away in a Manger/O Holy Night medley – Steven Curtis Chapman . . . A great medley of Christmas favorites.
40. This Baby – Steven Curtis Chapman . . . Another Steven Curtis Chapman hit that I like Greg Hill’s version better. Great truth in this song. At first glance, the lyric looks trite, but the message is deep and profound.