Christian Music Digest: An Audio Newsletter, is a production of Porchlight Family Media. For more info about this Christian music podcast click here.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Top 12 Christmas Albums by Christian Artists

Image Credit: http://www.morguefile.com/creative/Alvimann
Well here we are in the middle of the Christmas season and we’re pulling out our Christmas music. Many of you started listening to holiday tunes on Thanksgiving and others, like my wife, started somewhere around Halloween. But no matter when you start or how long you keep the Christmas music in your playlists or in your CD player there are just some albums that are absolutely “must-listen” at this time of year.

The following list is certainly not an exhaustive list of Christmas albums, nor are these projects the only ones I recommend. This list is simply a collection of albums that I find myself continually going back to year after year. These are my personal favorite Christmas albums by Christian artists that I absolutely must spin every year at Christmas. I really love a blend of traditional Christmas carols and original Christmas tunes so my picks will reflect that taste.

JD’s Top 12 Christmas Albums from Christian Artists

Francesca Battistelli – Christmas, 2012
iTunes | Amazon | CBD

Even though this project just released this year I know it will be among my favorites for many years to come. This recent release showcases mostly traditional holiday tunes arranged in classic Franny style along with a few very well written originals including one of my favorite new Christmas songs of all time, You’re Here. Christmas also features a really fun rendition of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and I think it has a very cool album cover.

Mark Harris – Christmas Is, 2009
iTunes | Amazon | CBD

Comprised of about half classics and half original compositions, Christmas Is includes a remake of the 4Him classic A Strange Way To Save The World and a very fun, unique version of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. Other familiar tracks are Silent Night and Little Drummer Boy. My favorite original on this album is Caroler's Song. The CD also features Harris’s daughter on the title track.

Casting Crowns – Peace On Earth, 2008
iTunes | Amazon | CBD

This wonderfully enjoyable album features beautiful instrumentation and orchestration of many familiar Christmas tunes like Joy To The World, Sweet Little Jesus Boy, and stirring performance of I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day. Also included are the original While You Were Sleeping, and a cover of Amy Grant's God Is With Us. At the 40th GMA Dove Awards, Peace On Earth won Christmas Album of the Year.

Todd Agnew – Do You See What I See, 2006
iTunes | Amazon | CBD

Probably the most unique album on my list, Do You See What I See offers a collection of all original songs. And as if that wasn't different enough, each song is also written from the point of view of each participant in the story of Christ’s birth. A third characteristic of the project that adds to it's uniqueness is that it is a collaboration with multiple other artists who voice the various characters of the Christmas story. The album was nominated for Christmas Album of the Year at the 38th Annual Dove Awards.

Amy Grant – A Christmas Album, 1983
iTunes | Amazon | CBD

This album really highlights the soothing tones of one the best female vocalists in Christian music, Amy Grant. A Christmas Album features a very unique rendition of O Little Town of Bethlehem called Little Town along with more familiar arrangements of The Christmas Song, Sleigh Ride, and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. It also includes great originals like Heirlooms and Tennessee Christmas.

Chris Rice – The Living Room Sessions: Christmas, 2001
iTunes | Amazon | CBD

This project is a masterful compilation of well known Christmas carols that Chris Rice recorded at the piano in his living room. This instrumental album offers a simple, stripped down version of the music of the season which is downright beautiful in it's simplicity. It features classics such as It Came Upon A Midnight Clear, Joy To The World, and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. The only original song is Rice's Welcome To Our World, which has become a classic in its own right having been recorded by several other artists.

Carman – A Long Time Ago…In A Land Called Bethlehem/Christmas With Carman, 1986/1995

First released in 1986 under the title A Long Time Ago…In A Land Called Bethlehem the songs were re-released in 1995 with a new title, Christmas With Carman, and new track order. This project is primarily composed of original Christmas songs, with a few strands of familiar melodies like Away In A Manger. Some tracks have small pieces of Scripture recitation and monologue which help paint a full picture of the Christmas story. Originals include the Elvis-influenced Celebrating Jesus, the Jewish sounding Jehova Shalom, and the soaring, anthemic Our Blessed Savior Has Come featuring CeCe Winans.

Go Fish – Christmas With A Capital “C” (Snow: The Deluxe Edition), 2010
iTunes | Amazon | CBD

This album features the high energy, upbeat, harmonious style that has become Go Fish’s trademark. Along with the fresh takes on classic Christmas songs there are several original tunes including the title track and one of my all-time favorite new Christmas songs, It’s About The Cross. Originally released in 2006 under the title Snow, this album was re-released with three additional tracks including a remix of Christmas With A Capital “C” featuring a new verse.

NewSong – The Christmas Shoes, 2001
iTunes | Amazon | CBD

NewSong offers an outstanding holiday release with The Christmas Shoes which is comprised of originals like Sing Noel, the title track, and Christmas Carol, as well as few traditional numbers such as What Child Is This and one of the best renditions of The First Noel ever. It also contains a snappy performance of You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch, and two nicely arranged medleys all featuring the powerful and superb vocals that NewSong is known for.

Avalon – Joy: A Christmas Collection, 2000
iTunes | Amazon | CBD

This Christmas project from one of the best Christian pop groups of all time is a refreshing album to listen to. It features familiar tunes like The Christmas Song, Don’t Save It All For Christmas Day, and a couple of medleys on which the vocal prowess of this group really shines. Joy: A Christmas Collection also has a good portion of originals and the album’s finale is a spectacular remake of the David Meece classic, We Are The Reason.

Plus One – Christmas, 2002
iTunes | Amazon

This project is a fun and delightful listen. Christmas is full of great arrangements of traditional songs and also has some new selections all performed with Plus One’s signature harmony and overall outstanding vocals. It features delightful renditions of classics like What Child Is This?, Silent Night, and It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.

Steven Curtis Chapman – The Music of Christmas, 1995
iTunes | Amazon | CBD

My favorite Christmas album of all-time! The Music of Christmas is the perfect blend of new and old with traditional carols like O Come O Come Emmanuel, Angels We Have Heard On High, and Silent Night coupled with original masterpieces such as Going Home For Christmas, Christmas Is All In The Heart, and This Baby. This is a timeless collection of seasonal music that even boasts a few superbly orchestrated instrumental pieces.

Now I’d love for you to share your favorite Christmas albums. Did I mention one of your faves? Or did I miss an album that you feel should have been listed? Let me know in the comments below. Merry Christmas!