As @MarkD notes, this probably merits its own thread. I’m trying to jive in my mind how this goes with theology and science, and suspect that there’s an angle–but thought it would be fun for its own sake. Please share your favorites–new and old, and why you like them. Thanks.
Can’t leave you hanging. How about a classic version of a classic? When Lia’s parents were still alive we’d always go to their house for Christmas. On Christmas eve we’d pass out the song books and have at it. My wife always enjoyed trying to climb that ladder to the high notes with her mother while her dad and I would start low so we could get up at least a little from there. Of course we sang Oh Holy Night in english, not being talented linguists.
I remember listening to that song sung by a missionary lady outside, in the dark under the dusty harmattan in Niger a night near Christmas (it was about 80 degrees then, I think). It was in English, but beautiful.
Another I’ve liked for a long time is “Silent Night,” though in German, “Stille Nacht,” sounds even more beautiful. I remember the story of the German and British soldiers in World War I who sang that together and played football for a brief truce near Christmas.
Oh Holy Night is my favorite. Not that I can sing it.
That’s okay, we couldn’t either. But Lia and her mom sure enjoyed trying. It was an adventure for sure.
My favorite is a Talj Talj (Snow Snow), an Arab Christmas song about Jesus’s birth. The singer is Fairuz, a very famous Arab singer.
In the translation of the lyrics, I notice the song mentions Jesus being born in a cave. Western versions of the nativity scene show a barn or a stable, but the Bible doesn’t seem to specify what kind of structure Jesus’s parents stayed in. Since Ancient Near Easterners used caves for a variety of purposes, I guess it’s possible.
I´m not very specific and/or good with names but I enjoy the slow style of christmas songs in general, which is why I can happily close my eyes and just enjoy the music. I remember my time in primary school, when we often sang during the christmastime, and the childrens´ christmas songs were just beautiful and great quality.
With that said something dies within me, every time if I have to hear “Last Christmas” again
Stille Nacht is my most favorite memory of Jesus’ coming to Earth. I often find much ancient wisdom in song. Having grown up in the US and then moving to Switzerland, I was puzzled at the difference between the German and English versions of Silent Night.
It is interesting how translators can completely change the emphasis of a text with with very ‘little’ changes.
I think my favorite carol is O Come O Come Emmanuel, because to me that one best captures the feeling of “waiting” which accompanies both the Incarnation and the here and now.
David Meece’s version of One Small Child is one that I have to listen to every Christmas, and sometimes in the summer.
Traditional carols for me more so than newer Christmas songs. I’ve always loved the Anglican cathedral’s Festival of Lessons and Carols, which begins with a single choir boy standing with a candle in a darkened cathedral and singing “Once in Royal David’s City.”
I also like Mark Lowry’s “Mary Did You Know”
I enjoy “Angels We Have Heard on High” expecially the chorus.
Pretty much anything by Bing Crosby or Johnny Mathis! Those voices just say Christmas.
I’ve always loved the Anglican cathedral’s Festival of Lessons and Carols, which begins with a single choir boy standing with a candle in a darkened cathedral and singing “Once in Royal David’s City.”
My church does that. The boy soloist leads the procession.
It’s so beautiful. It will be a live webcast. They’ll have a link to the service leaflet up soon.
In the bleak midwinter is one of mine. I like the harmonies. But … there is no equaling the message of course.
While following that link youtube chose to show me this one of Alison Krauss and Yoyo Ma performing the Wexford Carol. They are both amazing and blend together so perfectly. I hadn’t heard this one before but I love their Simple Gifts, which I believe is a quaker song of thanks giving. (I may be wrong about that but at least here I can count on being corrected by someone knowledgable.)
For those who have trouble making out all the lyrics like me, here they are from wiki for the english version:
Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved son
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born.
The night before that happy tide,
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town.
But mark how all things came to pass
From every door repelled, alas,
As was foretold, their refuge all
Was but a humble ox’s stall.
Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep
To whom God’s angels did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear
Prepare and go, the angels said
To Bethlehem, be not afraid
For there you’ll find, this happy morn
A princely babe, sweet Jesus, born.
With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went the babe to find
And as God’s angel had foretold
They did our Saviour Christ behold
Within a manger he was laid
And by his side the virgin maid
Attending on the Lord of Life
Who came on earth to end all strife.
There were three wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay
And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah lay
They humbly cast them at his feet
With gifts of gold and incense sweet.
Very beautiful! Thanks for sharing that. And I’ll have to look up their rendition of “Simple Gifts” as I love that one too. It’s a Shaker hymn actually - also a beautiful message.
On a less serious note since I’m a sucker for vocal harmonies there’s the old chestnut of the “Straight No Chaser” (Acapella group) rendition of Twelve Days of Christmas. [And if you prefer to actually see them sing it, here is their original posted youtube video of the same - a little less polished perhaps, but ‘polish’ is not what they were about here anyway.]
And on a more serious note … their “Mary Did you Know” song is absolutely beautiful in both delivery and message. I heard one person remark to the lyrics … “well, of course Mary knew! She got the angelic announcements before anybody else did!” But I’m not so sure. Jesus’ own disciples and family just like all the rest of us were still slow to catch on to the way in which this child was to be significant. And besides, I think the more serious message we could draw from this song is that if we are to believe what this baby boy eventually taught to all of us … then we would all know that, along with Mary, whenever any of us tenderly cares for a destitute person or vulnerable child we are “kissing the face of God.”
Very well said. Matt 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
I do very much like acapella harmonies, but the only thing I’ve downloaded by Straight No Chaser is their version of Auld Lang Syne which is my favorite by far.
I can’t find it anywhere on youtube but I once downloaded from iTunes an acapella version of Oh Holy Night from an album titled Craciun Cu Acapella in the World music genre, but I don’t know the artist/group. This is my favorite version of the song in male voice.
In a lighter vein this version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman by Bare Naked Ladies with Sarah McLachlan is pretty fun. What they give up in reverence they make up for in musicality.
I am enjoying all these “favorites” as suggested on this site. I have a hard time coming up with a “favorite” since so many Christmas songs are just great!! I enjoyed MarkD’s contribution of Contique de Noel and also Thanh C’ Arabic contribution — although the latter is one I have never heard before – even in English.
As for the mention of Jesus being born in a cave – yes, that is one “thought” as to what was meant in the gospel account. The idea that it was a “cave” is traced to Justin Martyr, but many ordinary homes of that region began in caves and evolved into something more. There have been many discussions of the nature of Jesus’ birthplace, and you can read commentaries referring to it. I have been quite influenced by the book Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth Bailey, who lived for a number of years in the region…
Just a thought… in case you want to pursue the subject.
Why not a thread on Favorite Christmas Movies??? It’s a toss-up for me there too, although It’s A Wonderful Life and The Nativity Story are high on my list…along with lots of others.