At this time of year, everyone who celebrates Christmas has their own list of “must-hear” Christmas songs–and it’s likely that no two lists are exactly the same. We also tend to hold differing opinions on just why a particular song is in our top 10. For some, it’s all about Jesus….for others, it’s all about Santa. Some songs bring back fond memories of childhood Christmases, and some are simply a lot of fun.
Whether your list matches mine or not, I’d like to invite you to enjoy with us the ten Christmas songs you’ll hear every year at our house. I’d also like to tell you what makes these songs so special to us. So, grab a cup of hot cocoa, sit back, and drink in the sounds of the season as I give you our “Top 10 Christmas Songs.”
1. “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” This is my personal favorite because it doesn’t just talk about the baby in the manger. It tells you who that baby is (“Prince of Peace”, “Son of Righteousness”, “Christ the Everlasting Lord”), and it tells you why He came–to bring life, to heal, to save us from the punishment for our sins. I like to call this song, “The Gospel in a Box.” Listen to all of the verses sometime and unwrap the gift of Jesus.
2. “Gloria.” This song is from Michael W. Smith’s album, simply entitled, “Christmas.” The album came out over a decade ago, but as with most Christmas offerings, the material is timeless. “Gloria” leads in with a bouncy version of “Angels We Have Heard on High,” complete with orchestra and choir. It’s a lengthy tune, but it’s perfect for trimming the tree or driving to all of those places you just have to shop at this year.
3. “All I Want for Christmas is You.” Mariah Carey has the right idea with this one–what is Christmas without that special someone? If you like your Christmas music rocking back a few decades, this one will have your toes tapping.
4. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” There have been many covers of this classic, but I truly like Brenda Lee’s version the best. Believe it or not, our worship team played this at the end of our Sunday worship service last December….who says Christians can’t have fun???
5. “O Holy Night.” This one was my mother’s all-time favorite, and it always moves me. There is something about reflecting on that one special night and what it all means that can literally make you fall to your knees.
6. “White Christmas.” Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, and that huge, wonderful Christmas tree–the movie is a tradition at our house, and the song is a tradition in our hearts. Who can resist a snowy Christmas Eve? Of course, I don’t really enjoy shoveling 6-8 inches of ‘partly cloudy’ weather from my driveway on Christmas morning just so we can actually make it over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house for dinner.
7. “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” If you want to keep your kids busy for hours this holiday season, offer to pay them a dollar for every verse they can sing from memory without missing any of the gifts or singing them out of order. This one is just plain fun, and you can ramp up the laughs at your Christmas party by having your guests make up alternate lyrics. Instead of “two French hens” they might come up with “two French horns,” or “two french fries,” or even “two cocker spaniels.” You just never know….
8. “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” You’re probably thinking that we just love the basic, greeting card sentiment of this one. You’re partly right. Actually, we substitute words I saw on a Christmas card years ago, and it goes something like this: “Wee fish ewe a mare egrets moose….” You get the idea. (There were pictures of all of those animals on the front of the card with the revised lyrics inside.) It’s a hoot. “….panda hippo gnu deer!”
9. “Winter Wonderland.” This song doesn’t actually say anything at all about Christmas, but I sure enjoy closing my eyes for a moment, picturing the sleigh, the glistening snow, and kids building a snowman. Just not while I’m driving to the mall to pick up all of those Christmas gifts!
10. “Silent Night.” Of course, no Christmas season would be complete without a rendition of “Silent Night.” I once visited a small chapel in Frankenmuth, Michigan dedicated to telling the story of how the hymn came to be written. It’s a tale of a broken church organ, a Christmas Eve service with the prospect of no music, and a song written to be played on guitar just for the occasion. The details of its history may have changed as with all good legends, but the message of “Silent Night” is certain and unchanging. “Christ the Savior is born….” He’s the reason for the season!