There are three types of people around the holidays:
- Those who don’t care too much for Christmas carols
- Those who patiently wait until the second to last week before Christmas to tune in to them
- And those who crank up the radio’s volume as soon as the turkey hits the table (because who isn’t thankful for Christmas carols on Thanksgiving?)
The crew at Kingdom Winds may just be the kind that gobbles up the seasonal songs…if you catch my drift. 😉
Here are our favorite Christmas carols and what they mean to us!
Gary Suess – Glory (Let There Be Peace)
For me, this exercise begged the question “Christmas song or Christmas carol?” Timeless classics belted out on snowy porches and standing between wooden pews or Christmas songs authored by contemporary artists?
After receiving the simple yet all-encompassing answer “Yes,” I started dropping figurative coins into my mental jukebox to review the wide-ranging field. I love so many Christmas songs—this could prove to be challenging.
Upon careful contemplation and quite a few heartfelt solo performances, I settled in on my all-time favorite—O Holy Night! Yes, that’s the song that makes me want to drop to my knees in reverence every time I hear it.
But, wait, I have always loved “Go Tell it on the Mountain.” Maybe that’s the one? Or how about “Do You Hear What I hear?” Or “Little Drummer Boy?” Who hasn’t sung “Pa rum pum pum pum, Rum pum pum pum, Rum pum pum pum” in an endless loop? Even Joan Jett of all people did an edgy version that got airplay for many years.
No, definitely “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” is the song that’s my “go-to” song in the shower between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Wait, hold it, “What Child is This” has got to be my number one shower-time favorite. Or, if not that, “We Three Kings,” a song burnished in my memory from a church choir solo in the 6th grade. Yeah, that’s the ticket!
Hold on, though, the song that has captivated me for the past decade has been Christmas Canon Rock by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Just its borrowed melody, orchestral artistry, and the awe-inspiring talent of the vocalists are reasons alone to choose it—but perhaps the lyrics may be slightly dubious.
Well, if I’m going to choose a contemporary song, let’s go with Lauren Daigle’s “Light of the World.” After all, I awoke from a sound sleep on Christmas morning two years ago singing this inspiring song.
But, you know, there was another song that Christmas that I loved even more—Glory (Let There Be Peace) by Matt Maher. And, importantly, that song helped fill me with hope, peace, and the joy of the Lord just a few days later when I suddenly found myself on an operating table with a serious medical issue.
That’s my final answer. “Glory (Let There Be Peace)”…Emmanuel, Christ in us—the hope of glory!
“One voice speaks for the voiceless
Hope for the hopeless, Emmanuel
One love brings us together
Now and forever, Emmanuel”
Music and Lyrics by Matt Maher
Beth Suess – Breath of Heaven
The raw emotions of a young girl surrendered to God come through so powerfully in this song. Had Mary known what she would face in life, she may have been slower to give her “yes” to the Father. Like Mary, we cannot see the end from the beginning, but we trust in Him who we cannot see. We trust in His Word, His goodness, and His power. We trust the Breath of Heaven to lead us in our life journey and then guide us home for eternity.
“But I offer all that I am
For the mercy of your plan
Help me be strong
Help me be
Music and original lyrics by Chris Eaton
Re-imagined lyrics by Amy Grant
Dawn King – In the Bleak Mid-Winter
My absolute favorite Christmas song is “In the Bleak Mid-Winter.” It’s based on a poem written in 1872, and I love how old it sounds. Sarah McLachlan’s version is hauntingly beautiful. There’s a verse that says:
“Oh, what can I give Him,
Poor as I am? —
If I were a Shepherd
Would I bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man
Would I do my part? —
Yet what I can I give Him —
Give my heart.”
Every time I hear this verse, I tear up because I find it so utterly raw and tender. It reminds us of exactly what Jesus wants from us—our hearts.
Lyrics by Sarah McLachlan are based on the poem by Christina Rossetti
Becca James – O Holy Night and Grown-Up Christmas List
My favorite Christmas carol is a toss-up between “O Holy Night” and “Grown-Up Christmas List.” The former reminds me that I have a unique identity. God paid meticulous attention to His creation of humans; Jesus reminded them of their value. Our souls are precious, not priceless. If they were priceless, Jesus would not have died for them. Josh Groban’s version has depth and passion, which is why I like his rendition best.
“Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn”
Music by Adolphe Adam
Lyrics by Placide Cappeau
The latter is my hope for the world, for future generations. Toys and chocolates as a child are exciting, but as an adult, my heart longs for everyone to know love, to be in unity, and to feel the peace and joy Jesus brings. Kelly Clarkson’s version is like a mighty war cry backed by a meek spirit and tender voice.
“So here’s my lifelong wish
My grown-up Christmas list
Not for myself but for a world in need
No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end, no
This is my grown-up Christmas list”
Composed by David Foster
Lyrics by Linda Thompson-Jenner
Rachael Weisinger and Rebecca Henderson – Mary, Did You Know?
Rachael: I love “Mary, Did You Know?” because it portrays the Gift through the eyes of a mother, potentially unaware of all that her newborn baby will accomplish. While we see the impending future and legacy of Jesus Christ, he’s only a baby before her eyes. Her human naivety magnifies the wonder of the nativity. Live performances are my favorite because they are very emotional. Usually, whenever it is performed, it’s sung at a location or an event for you to be reflective.
“Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God”
Rebecca: “Mary, Did you Know?” is my most beloved Christmas song because it speaks to my “mom heart.” As I process the words of this song year after year, I often think of how Mary must have felt as such a young mother. Being given the news that God’s Son would be her responsibility to raise and nurture would have been overwhelming! She must have been terrified and completely unprepared; what first-time mom isn’t? My favorite version is the one by Kutless because it’s a little edgy and rock and roll-ish.
Composed by Buddy Greene
Lyrics by Mark Lowry
Susan Sisson – Carol of the Bells
“Carol of the Bells” is definitely the song that makes me feel most Christmas-y in a tingly way! I don’t really have a favorite.
“Hark! how the bells
Sweet silver bells
All seem to say, ‘Throw cares away.’
Christmas is here
Bringing good cheer
To young and old Meek and the bold”
Composed by Mykola Leontovych
Lyrics by Peter J. Wilhousky
Music very often has the power to bring us out of ourselves and enter into sacred space. Christmas songs are no different. Some are ancient in all their depth, harkening back to old cathedrals, choirs, and simple home gatherings. Some are filled with techno beats and joyful reminders of what wonderful creativity abounds today. We at Kingdom Winds hope you allow your Christmas season to be filled to the brim with holy songs that remind you of the most beautiful reason for this season: our humble Savior—Jesus.
Featured Image by Beth Suess