or, Our Top 10 Desert Island Christmas Albums
Yesterday, I heard the words "let earth receive Her king!" zing through the aisles at the grocery store. The moment was almost lost in the lull of familiarity -- the squeak of the trizillionth grocery cart, the same old cereal boxes... and a carol I could sing in my sleep. It was all so common that I almost missed noting the miracle of hearing the name of Christ exalted over the speakers at a grocery store.
December is the one month when songs about Jesus Christ are still sung in public. That, for me, is a fresh thrill every single year. Truly, the celebration of Christ's birth has given the human race some of the most beautiful music ever written.
But as our culture becomes increasingly secular, the Christmas music one hears in public and on the radio begins to follow suit. What child is this? Why, it's Destiny's Child (woo hoo), pummelling our senses with their reversion of the good news: "On the eighth day of Christmas, my baby gave to me a pair of Chloe shades and a diamond belly ring."
As pop drivel bumps and grinds its way into the Christmas music market, we are all sadly losing familiarity with many of the old, luscious, obscure carols about Christ's birth. (Incidentally, there IS a difference in a Christmas 'song' and a Christmas 'carol.' Traditionally, a carol is a song about Christ.) And the more those slick, synthesized, studio-driven Christmas albums take over the holiday music racks at local stores, the more crazed we Beehive denizens feel about collecting those off-beat but superb sorts of albums that capture the feel of a bunch of happy villagers freely making music together just for the pure joy of it.
In a day of too many myopic, money-driven music studio executives and way too few village carolers, we hereby encourage you all to indulge in some healthy, beautiful cultural rebellion. Dig a little into the rich, textured, timeless, gorgeous music of Christmas past. Ooooh, it's some really good stuff. You'll be so happy, and happy is good. Comfort and joy and all such as that.
Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer is fun enough at first, but it begins to grate and pall after a few spins. Ah, but once you grow to love the lush beauty of old carols like "Once In Royal David's City" or "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," we truly believe you will never tire of hearing them.
Here, then, are our very favority favorites, the choice few holiday albums in our collection that we could listen to all year long. Go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble and check them out. If you just hauled off and bought them all, we feel sure you would simply love us forever.
Kathleen Battle and Christopher Parkening
Comfort & Joy:
A Christmas Celtic Sojourn
The Holly & The Ivy
The Clare College Choir of Cambridge, with John Rutter
To Drive the Cold Winter Away
Nine Lessons & Carols
The Choir of King's College, Cambridge
A Christmas Celtic Sojourn
[Oh, and the other three albums pictured above are December by George Winston (the best album ever for winter afternoons spent reading and sipping hot tea by a crackling fire); A Scottish Christmas by Bonnie Rideout (which is Simply Fabulous); and Ancient Noels by Maggie Sansone and The Ensemble Galilei, which is most likely unlike anything you've ever heard. We like that.]