(Updated from 2019 post) This time of the year, people love to share their favorite this and that. Whether it’s a favorite Christmas song, ornament, dessert or dish, it’s always a treat to hear what everybody loves and why ~ this year maybe even more so! I have a few favorites myself ~ you know, those things that make my heart beat a little more joyfully during the Christmas season. So, since I love music so much, I thought it would be fun to share my favorite Christmas songs. I mean, music truly does set the tone, so let’s give it a try!
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The Musician in Me
Some of you know that music is likely (and preferably) my first language, my language of choice. If you needed to find me growing up, all you had to do was head straight to the back of the auditorium and into one of the two music rooms. I was likely there – before school, during lunch, after school, any break I may have had. Music is just a part of my soul ~ be it band, choir or musical theatre. So, it’s no surprise that I love to bust out the Christmas carols as soon as deemed “socially acceptable” by the family (Hubby likes to wait until the day after Thanksgiving, so I try very hard to respect that. Try…..very….hard).
Of course, there are any number of holiday tunes that could be heard escaping my lips during the course of the day. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an upbeat song, a carol played in a minor key (some of those are my faves), those that highlight the big guy in the red suit, or those that truly reflect on the reason for the season. I love them all!!
But which ones are my favorites? Hmmm….let me see if I can narrow down the top five. Okay – scratch that…let’s do six.
My Favorite Christmas Songs
6. All I Want For Christmas Is You
I’m going to start out by saying this ~ I’m not a huge fan of the original version sung by Mariah Carey in 1994. Sorry, Mariah. I mean, it’s nice and I can sing to it. In fact, it even found its way to the top of the charts AFTER 25 YEARS! So, it certainly has made its mark on the season. However, I am more in love with the version sung by Lady A! I don’t know what it is about that rendition, but I could listen to and sing it all day long. It’s romantic, sweet, and festive. Not to mention, it’s extremely contagious!
5. God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman
Here’s a traditional old English carol I love immensely. It just happens to be in one of those minor keys, which appeals to me tremendously, and has such fun and playful scales and intervals. I actually grew up adoring this song, primarily because the harmonies were a challenge to find. Of course, I’m a HUGE fan of harmony ~ always seeking out that alto or second soprano line. Put me next to someone who sings a solid melody and I will find the harmony to fill the chord. This tune is just perfect for groups going caroling and ~ boy, do I miss caroling!!
4. What Child is This?
This song is absolutely gorgeous and captivating. It is a carol whose lyrics were written by William Chatterton Dix in 1865 to the tune of “Greensleeves” while Mr. Dix was recovering from an illness. I am utterly infatuated with how this song provides a resounding chorus that acts as a joyful declaration. It’s also another carol that has some stunning and creative harmonies. In fact, I don’t think this song is complete without adding in the voices to complete the chord.
I don’t know ~ maybe that’s just me????
3. Mary, Did You Know?
This song came out in the early 1990s. The lyrics were written by Mark Lowry and the music by Buddy Greene, both of whom were a part of the Gaither Vocal Band at the time. When I first heard the song, I was in my 20s (so mid 1990s) and living in Upstate New York. At that point, some of the teens in our church interpreted the song on stage while the soundtrack played over them. I was mesmerized by their interpretation. Since then, the song has been sung by many, including Rascal Flatts and Pentatonix, and has become a classic this time of year. It honestly melts my soul every time I hear it ~ maybe it’s because I’m a mother myself. It paints a magnificent picture and, whether sung as a solo or with harmonies, it is both powerful and moving.
2. Carol of the Bells
When it comes to this song, I have to admit that I love both the instrumental versions and those that showcase vocals. However, it has to be done reverently in order for me to truly enjoy it. I’m a stickler when it comes to this one – sorry. I’ve heard Celtic versions of it ~ it just doesn’t cut it for me. Upbeat, poppy versions? Yeah – no. I’m one who loves the simplicity of a unison entry and a building of harmonic depth in this piece. Heck – give me handbells and I am a happy snowman.
To be honest, though, the one that plays in my head the most is the one used on The Santa Clause with Tim Allen. It starts off acapella and then builds ever so perfectly. It has such a sweet, sweet sound.
Of course, I have to admit that there is one rocky version of the song that I do tend to like. That’s the one performed by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Have you heard it? Oh, my gosh – absolutely entrancing!
But What Is My Ultimate Favorite Song This Time Of Year???
While I love a LOT of songs played this time of year (as evidenced above), there is one in particular that literally makes me giddy and triggers a smile both on my face and in my soul.
So, here’s the backstory.
Eons ago, when I was in sixth grade, I was in the Special Choir – which meant that I either had to audition or just simply showed interest. I honestly can’t remember at this point. In any case, that particular holiday concert, the Special Choir was singing “Let It Snow,” a song written in 1945 by lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Jule Styne. It’s funny because the song was written in California during the summer and has no mention of Christmas in it. Nonetheless, I still fell in love with it.
Now, that was the first Christmas with my baby sister, so Mom wasn’t too keen on driving out in the New England cold with a four month old. Understandable, I suppose. So, my father (parents divorced since I was two), said he would come to support me. He and his fiancée stood in the back of the auditorium. Even in the dark, I was able to make out exactly where my father was standing because he most certainly was not standing still.
Are you ready for this?
While we were singing, “Let It Snow,” my father was in the back of the room dancing away. Yes, dancing. It certainly made me smile, but, boy, was I curious to find out what was making him so giddy and active! If I were to be completely honest, I’d say that I was a little afraid he had been hitting the eggnog before he showed up to the school!
After the show, my father drove me home. His fiancée had met him there that night, so it was just me and my dad at that point. On the drive, my father laughingly asked if I was curious as to why he was dancing during that one song. Of course I was curious and said yes. From there, he proceeded to share one of the most precious moments of our time together over the years. I have never forgotten this moment. He said that, instead of singing, “Let it snow…Let it snow…Let it snow,” he was singing something just a little different.
See…my father had a plow on the front of his big black pickup truck. He would plow parking lots and driveways during the winter to bring in some extra income. So, as would make sense, instead of singing the original line to the song, he was in the back of the middle school auditorium singing,
“Let it snow. Let it snow…so I can PLOW!!!”
Yup – and I’m related to that man. That was my Daddy ~ and I miss him very, very much!
My father unexpectedly passed away when I was 26 ~ when I was pregnant with his very first grandchild. So, you can only imagine how much more important the song has become to me during the holidays.
What’s your favorite Christmas / holiday song and why???
I’ve shared a good handful of my favorite Christmas songs up. However, to be honest, there were so many I could have added to this list. For instance, I adore The Hallelujah Chorus, O Holy Night, I Remember Christmas Past, etc., etc.
Now it’s your turn. What Christmas songs light up your smile this time of year and let me know if there is a story behind it. I honestly love to hear how music affects people! Leave your comments and stories below.