I love Christmas music. I love it so much that I secretly listen to it year-round. It’s always driven the men in my house crazy, but I don’t care because it’s my therapy. My favorites are a blend of the sacred and the secular, always melodic and easy on the ears.
As a self-avowed Christmas music junkie, I felt it only right, in the spirit of the season, to offer my top picks for a relaxing Christmas mood. Type them into Pandora and play them at a Christmas party. Crank them up while you bake cookies or clean the never-ending pile of holiday dishes. Or, if you’re like me, plug in your headphones and try not to give away the fact that you’re lost in the glories of O Come All Ye Faithful in September.
The holidays are full of hustle and bustle. To ease your mind and lighten your heart, here are 7 albums for a soothing Christmas atmosphere.
|1. Nat King Cole: The Christmas Song, 1990.
A beautiful mixture of Christmas carols and popular songs, with a rich choral background led by the rich and velvety voice of the Cole himself. There are 3 versions of the title track, the original, a remastered, and a digitally blended version that turns the remastered track into a duet with Nat and his daughter Natalie.
|2. Roger Whittaker: The Roger Whittaker Christmas Album, 1994.
Whittaker’s folk style gives a pleasant ambience to original Christmas songs ranging from the ballad of Darcy the Dragon to a dramatic staging of the Roman Governor Quirinius’ dream that night in Bethlehem.
|3. Amy Grant: Home for Christmas, 2007.
Christmas church and pop classics with cheery orchestration, including a sweeping instrumental of Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.
|4. James Taylor: A Christmas Album, 2004.
Folk and pop renditions, the masculine kin to Amy Grant. Highlights include the bluesy Jingle Bells and acoustic Go Tell It On the Mountain.
|5. John Rutter: The Holly and the Ivy: Carols from Clare College, 1979.
Put on this album, close your eyes and let it take you into a cathedral, surrounded by stained glass windows, candles and the scent of pine and incense. A cappella hymns and carols remind one of the holiness of the incarnate God.
|6. Andrew Peterson: Behold the Lamb of God, 2009.
Recordings of AP’s beautiful multi-artist concert events that tell the story of Jesus’ birth, beginning in the Old Testament and working their way up to the new. Includes a gorgeous instrumental track with flying hammer dulcimers.
|7. Windham Hill Artists: A Winter’s Solstice III, 2003.
A musically intelligent New Age blend of little-known artists and many little-known Advent tunes. The lullaby for the baby Jesus and the quiet sadness of I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day give me chills every time.
Bonus: For more variety in your calming holiday Pandora mix, add Celtic Holiday, George Winston Holiday and the Ray Conniff Singers Holiday. Then sit back, relax and enjoy the sonorous show!