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My wife loves Christmas music. As soon as those certain radio stations switch over on November 1st to non-stop seasonal music, the station is dialed in. And it is not that I do not enjoy music about the birth of our Savior or the Advent season, but if I am going to listen to the same 20 songs for two months straight, I need a little variety. Here are my five favorite albums and EPs that might help spice up your playlist…
Behold The Lamb Of God, Andrew Peterson
This is probably my new favorite of Advent 2009. This is why (in his own words):
What makes this bunch of songs unique is that I wanted to remind (or teach) the audience that the story of Christmas doesn’t begin with the birth of Jesus. Many people tend to forget or have never even learned that the entire Bible is about Jesus, not just the New Testament. So the musical begins with Moses and the symbolic story of the Passover (Passover Us) and works its way through the kings and the prophets with their many prophecies about the coming Messiah (So Long, Moses) to the awful four hundred years of silence before God told Mary she’d be having a baby (Deliver Us). After the song called Matthew’s Begats, which lists the genealogy of Jesus, the story picks up in more familiar territory with Mary and Joseph and the actual birth (It Came To Pass, Labor of Love). The final song is called Behold, the Lamb of God, which ties together the Passover and the beauty and scope of the story.
Glory In The Highest, Shane & Shane
My two favorite Christmas songs launch my favorite Christmas album, O Holy Night and O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Their original song, Born To Die is a great addition to our Christmas playlist. There are a couple songs on here that are just plain old fun Christmas tunes and aren’t my most favorite additions to a Christmas album, but the first two songs set my affections ablaze and help me look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith… most of the time with tears welling.
Advent Songs, Sojourn
The album “Songs for the Advent” was recorded in 2003: a collection of original, traditional and instrumental songs celebrating the season of waiting and anticipation before Christmas. This record revisits the spirit and songs of that record, reviving three original tracks and adding five new songs and traditional arrangements.
The emphasis here is on the already/not-yet tension of advent. Advent comes to us in the darkest season of the year — a season when the nights are long, the days are cold, and we look with anticipation for the return of warmth in the spring. The songs have both a dark sense of anticipation and glimpses of light dawning in the face of the Christ child. As we celebrate this season, we celebrate that our Messiah has come, and we look with longing to the day when he comes again. As St. John says, “Amen! Come Lord Jesus.”
On The Incarnation, Daniel Renstrom
This is an excellent mix of old songs and new ones. One new song, “Rise & Fall”, is my favorite on this album and talks about how Jesus is a “dangerous King”. He not only brought joy and salvation, but also opposition to other kings and kingdoms. One reviewer writes, “ The truly great thing about On The Incarnation is that it doesn’t repel you when you are not in a Christmas season mood. It’s a gift from Renstrom that we can hear it outside the season and still enjoy it. I played the album for the kids in the car on the way to Louisville two weeks ago. Four songs in they said, “Are you sure these are Christmas songs?” The answer is yes, in the best sense.”
Silent Night, Mars Hill Church (Seattle)
This is one is for the rockers! The songs are all classic carols with a little Seattle grunge… I love it! It is a little jolting going from The Nutcracker to Mars Hill, but like I said… I need a little variety in these two months! If you click the link, you can download ‘What Child Is This?’ for free before buying the album for $5.99.
Enjoy and worship The King!