For unto you is born this day . . . a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
~ Luke 2:11
For me, Christmas is 100% about Christ. It's in the name. And you can't have Christmas without the joy of music. As a teen, I dreamed of one day making it big as a singer. That did not happen, but my love for music and singing has not changed. Narrowing down only twelve Christmas songs was quite difficult, as I could sing Christmas songs for hours, until I go hoarse, but the following twelve songs reflect my most favorite, and the reasons why. And the order has no bearing on which is the top, as that can change on any given day.
1. Away in a Manger
This was one of the first Christmas songs I remember learning as a child and I remember lovingly swaddling my own baby doll as was the Christ child. Our Lord and Savior came to this earth in the humblest of circumstances, as the song states "â¦no crib for a bed," and it is this reason I place this one first on the list.
2. The First NoelThat miracle of Christ's birth.
Noel is an Old French word meaning Christmas. It can also refer to a carol or hymn sung in honor of The First Noel. It sings of the shepherd, also in humble circumstances, who recognized right away the magnificent meaning of the star "..Shining in the East beyond them far."
3. What Child is This?
Set to the familiar tune of Greensleeves, this is one I sing and hum throughout the year. I recently was blessed to sing this for members of my church on Sunday, the 14th with a good friend of mine. I sang the melody, the soprano part, while she sang the alto. The arrangement was slightly different than standard, and it was a great joy to sing it and feel the spirit deep in my heart. You can listen to and download this version for yourself by following this link.
4. Oh, Come All Ye Faithful
Meant to be sung majestically and joyfully, this hymn is in reference to verses in Luke chapter 2. In verse 9 and 10 it says, "And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them. . . and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." And those tidings were the birth of Christ, an event people had been awaiting for some time. I can only imagine the joy of being a part of that, and I am grateful I have the light of Christ in my life today.
5. Joy to the World
One of the 53 arias in Handel's Messiah, which he wrote in only 24 days, this is one sung annually in home and church, and one I look forward to each year.
6. Handel's Dream
This is a beautifully arranged piece, composed by Michael Mclean, that tells a poignant fictional story of Handel. It is a dream, and perhaps Handel had such a dream as his inspiration for the Messiah. It is partly sang and partly narrated. Young Handel is auditioning for the choir of angels to sing at Christ's birth. But he doesn't make it. Told he has a different voice, one that will be brought to the world in his own time, and that more orchestras and choirs than he can now imagine will be giving voice to his feelings leaves me with tears in my eyes every time I listen to it. One you must hear, if you haven't already. And if you have, give it a listen again.
7. Were You There?
Composed by Natalie Sleeth, this is a treasured song. I have sang this many times for others since I was a teenager and have played my flute to it as well. With many thought provoking questions throughout. Were you there on that first Christmas night? Were you there when the wonder foretold came to earth? Did you hear how the choirs of angels sang? Did you see how they bowed? Did you know it was God's own son, the salvation of the world begun? Did you know it was love that was sent from above to the earth? These are but a few of the glad, powerful messages in this song. To learn more about this great American composer, follow this link.
8. Jingle Bells & 9. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
You have to have the classics. And though the focal point of these songs is not the Savior, they are about Santa Claus and the simple goodness of Christmas. What a great example of goodness was Saint Nicholas. If we all spread the goodness and cheer, the true spirit of Christmas, like St. Nick does, the world would be a fantastically better place to be. I believe in Santa Claus. In the goodness, cheer, love and service of his name.
10. Angels We Have Heard on High
Gloria in excelsis Deo. Gloria in excelsis Deo. Latin for "glory to God in the highest," in this French carol, the single word 'Gloria' is carried through four full measures, for a total count of sixteen beats, with the rest less than half that. Beautifully arranged and fun to sing, the ups and downs of the Gloria, is why this is on my top 12 most loved Christmas songs.
11. It Could Happen Again
Part of Colin Raye's Christmas CD The Gift, this song has touched me from the first time I listened to it. Even during the devastation of war, this is a retelling of the well known story during WWI when opposing sides came together to celebrate Christmas, only returning to fight against each other after they were ordered to. This portrays the true meaning of Christ-like love, that men could put up their arms, share what little they had, sing Christmas carols and bring the spirit to an otherwise bleak time. Find the CD here. This CD also happens to be the giveaway item for today. Don't forget to enter below.
12. O Holy Night
Many, many versions of this song are out there. Rearrangements, numerous singers, wonderful song. Cantique De Noel, or as we know it O Holy Night, was composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 and later the words were added, written by Placide Cappeau, a wine merchant and poet who was also a professed atheist. Over 150 years later this song is still bringing joy to those who know Christ.
As we seek Christ, as we find Him, as we follow Him, we shall have the Christmas spirit, not for one fleeting day each year, but as a companion always.
~Thomas S. Monson
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. May we remember to keep Christ the center of our Christmas celebrations and try to bring the feelings and actions surrounding Christmas throughout the year.
Written by Stephanie N. Pitman
Author of Honorable Disgrace due out Feb 2, 2015
Available for pre-order http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QPCYIIC
Stephanie N. Pitman, Author
The written word is magical...
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