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Christmas music begins playing at our house about two seconds after October ends. Now I’m no Scrooge about it, but if our iPod is going to be burning up the holiday playlists for a couple months, I like to add some new music to the mix. So about two seconds after October ends, I excitedly begin to look for newly released albums or older ones that I haven’t come across in previous searches. As Advent means “coming”, the best holiday music not only helps you celebrate Christ’s birth, but helps you anticipate Christ’s return as well. I hope these albums both lead you and your families into greater joy that God sent His Son to save His people from their sins and builds your expectation for His coming again. For one day, Jesus will put death’s dark shadows to flight once and for all!

Must-Have Advent Albums:

Behold The Lamb Of God, Andrew Peterson

Glory In The Highest, Shane & Shane

Advent – Vol. 1, The Brilliance

Glory In The Highest, Chris Tomlin

Advent Songs, Sojourn


Our Favorite New Advent Albums:

A Day Of Glory (Songs for Christmas), Austin Stone Community Church

Glad Tidings – Christmas Songs Vol. 4, Folk Angel

We Have A Savior, Hillsong

Advent – Vol. 2, The Brilliance


Other Favorite Advent Albums:

Oh For Joy, David Crowder*Band

Christmas Songs and Headed Home and Comfort & Joy, Folk Angel

Advent Christmas EP, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, Future of Forestry

On The Incarnation, Daniel Renstrom

Over The Hills And Everywhere, Seabird

A Child Is Born, Sojourn

“Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”
Psalms 147:1 ESV

Aaron Shust’s My Savior My God has also been on continually repeat in the playlist since the Desiring God Pastor’s Conference in February.  It is a song about how Jesus came to save sinful men and how unbelievable that is… “that He who lives to be my King, once died to be my Savior”.  It is too wonderful to fathom, too awesome to understand, but in this we hope.  “Hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him there is plentiful redemption.” (Psalm 130:7)

There is another reason this song stirs my affections and it comes from the line, “My Savior loves, My Savior lives, My Savior’s always there for me”.  John Piper posted on Twitter this morning, “No sweeter words. “I am with you always to the end of the age.” Today, every minute. Tomorrow, every minute. Forever.”  Amen!  Our Savior is always there, no matter what providence has brought!  Listen, and I pray your soul is stirred to love Jesus more and more!

Click here to see him playing the song.

My Savior My God

I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed, what God has planned
I only know at His right hand
Stands one who is my Savior

I take Him at His word and deed
Christ died to save me; this I read
And in my heart I find a need
Of Him to be my savior

That He would leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior

My Savior loves, My Savior lives
My Savior’s always there for me
My God: He was, my God; He is
My God is always gonna be

Yes, living, dying, let me bring
My strength, my solace from this spring;
That He who lives to be my King
Once died to be my Savior

That He would leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior

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…

btlogcover10thBehold 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.

Shane & Shane - Glory In The Highest 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 - SojournAdvent 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.”

Daniel Renstrom - On The IncarnationOn 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.”

Mars Hill - Silent NightSilent 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!

Yesterday, Mark Kakkuri preached a great sermon on a life filled with the Holy Spirit. One section of the sermon emphasized that our singing on this earth is supposed to foreshadow what our singing will be like for all eternity. “It’s what God’s people do here and now when they are filled with or under the control of the Holy Spirit.”

His final comment on this section was a wonderful charge:

“Brothers and sisters, let’s continue to be a joyful, singing Spirit-filled people. And for those who are not yet “into” singing, it’s time to open your mouths, raise up your voices, and join in the chorus!”

You can download the sermon here.