I love Christmas music.
Each year, I try to avoid pulling out the cds and starting the Spotify playlists until the day after Thanksgiving. It’s unavoidable in some cases, but holding out makes Black Friday morning a bit special, marking the kickoff for seasonal songs. From that day on and throughout December, I try to fit Christmas music into commutes to church, afternoons at the office, and study sessions. And while I know that of the writing and recording of Christmas records there is no end, and while I try to listen to a wide array of artists, I find myself returning to a few albums in particular.
1. Let It Snow Baby… Let it Reindeer, Relient K
I think I start with this album every year. I know there are plenty of worthy contenders for classic Christmas albums, and I don’t want to contest them. But it almost doesn’t feel like the Christmas season has started until I hear the first few notes of this record ringing through the car speakers. Relient K’s album has a number of strengths. They present fresh takes on classic songs that both maintain the joy of each song while bringing something new to the table. They include a number of original tracks that offer reflections on faith, friends, and family during the holidays. Theirs is also one of the most fun albums I’ve ever heard. They’re well worth a listen.
2. Behold the Lamb of God, Andrew Peterson
I love Andrew Peterson’s work. I can’t think of another artist whose music and writing has so stirred my mind and heart. His Christmas album is no different. Behold the Lamb of God tells the story of the birth of Christ through the lens of the narrative of Scripture, tracing the thread of redemption from the Passover through the Prophets and Kings to the birth of Jesus, all in a variety of musical styles and voices. Because the album tells a story, it’s worth listening to all the way through (it feels almost like a musical). This might be my favorite album on the list.
3. Christmas Songs, Penny and Sparrow
I like this album for its simplicity. It’s not loud, not fancy, not overdone; it’s simply a good collection of songs done well. And it’s excellent. You can easily sing along to the songs if you’d like, or you can simply listen and reflect as the music settles into the background. Either way, Penny and Sparrow are worth your time.
4. August Burns Red Presents: Sleddin’ Hill, A Holiday Album, August Burns Red
I came across August Burns Red’s version of “Carol of the Bells” on a Christmas compilation album sometime in high school or college, and I’ve been a fan of their Christmas music ever since. They blend their metal sound with well-known holiday songs (and some original pieces) to make a really fun collection (their version of “Sleigh Ride” is wild). They also released Winter Wilderness last year with a version of the “Home Alone Theme,” and I love it.
What are your favorite Christmas albums, and why do you like them? I’d love to check out your suggestions!