Monday, December 8, 2008

What's Christmas Without Music?

Christmas isn't Christmas (for me) without listening to these albums:

1. True Value Happy Holidays Volume 17. This is a record. Yes, an actual 33 1/3 record. Which, by the way, yes, I do own my own record player (It's a Crosley. My most favorite-ist thing I've ever bought myself). But this album lives with my parents. It must be listened to at least once each holiday season. Preferably while we decorate the tree.

2. Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters. Bing belongs to Christmas. There are many great albums to choose from but this is one of my favorites.

3. A Perry Como Christmas. It almost doesn't matter which album. I think Como is second only to Crosby in his crooning ability. The songs vary from well known to not so well known. I love 'em all.

4. Amy Grant's A Christmas Album. Much loved for the Tennessee Christmas song, in days of old. We no longer live in that state, so it has a bit less meaning, but still, it's a good c.d. Some of the background music is a little clunky now, causing this to not make Prince Charming's favorite list. Come to think of it, none of the music I've mentioned so far would make his favorite list.

5. Amy Grant's Home for Christmas. Yes, I just mentioned Amy Grant. No, I don't particularly love Amy Grant. This c.d. has some gorgeous songs all the same. Love, love, love, "Breath of Heaven."

6. The Roger Whittaker Christmas Album. This one crosses over into the "guaranteed to drive Prince Charming up the wall" category. I mostly love it because two of the songs are on the aforementioned True Value record.

7. Sarah McLachlan Wintersong. I skip the first song (Happy Xmas - War is Over). If you don't like the original version (John Lennon, in this case) chances are you won't like the knock-off. Some exceptions apply, of course. But this c.d. improves after that. And her First Noel / Mary Mary is a must listen. In The Bleak Midwinter is beautiful and haunting.

8. Empire Brass Joy to the World. Nothing says "Christmas" like a brass ensemble. This particular c.d. has 17 songs. Most are well known carols, a few are a bit more obscure. Prince Charming says that Empire Brass is "almost too perfect". Are you starting to suspect P.C. is a bit of a Grinch? I mean, he isn't, of course, but he sounds like one sometimes.

9. Sara Groves O Holy Night. Okay, confession time, this c.d. just came out this season. But I already know it is destined to be a family all-time favorite. First of all, I love Sara Groves anyway. Second of all, this album is beautiful. Third of all, Prince Charming loves it too, which, as you know, is rare. I have almost nothing bad to say about this c.d., except for the fact I found a typo in the liner notes. ("Their" does not mean "they are". And vice versa. Work with me people!)

10. Michael W. Smith Christmas. This one is old now. I have never been crazy about Smith. I consider his voice juvenile and a bit whiny. I think his songwriting skill is greater than his actual singing ability. But this c.d. is gorgeous. The symphony, the children's choir, the soaring's all good. Actually, it's all great. This is usually the first thing our family listens to when Prince Charming declares it open season. (That would be the after Thanksgiving trip home.) I find it best to break in the Christmas music with something everyone loves and this c.d. definitely applies.

Coming soon: a post about my favorite Christmas songs.

What music brings Christmas to your home?


scotirish said...

I have read of many churches celebrating Christmas with Pageants that include an actual baby portraying the role of 'baby Jesus'. Our first child Ruth, was born December 12th, 1981 and was chosen to be 'baby Jesus' for our church's (Reba Place Fellowship) Christmas Eve service. Last year, our grandson, Charlie, born on Oct. 19th 2008, was chosen, also at Reba Place Fellowship. But in prison no such ritual exists.

I wasn't even thinking about babies being in Christmas plays back in 1972. This was yet another year in prison, the difference being this was my first Christmas as a Christian. The Christmas service held new meaning for me as we sang the traditional Christmas Carols bringing with it a hope for a new life with a redeemed future. Christian volunteers were a part of our service at the U. S. Medical Center for Prisoners in Springfield, Mo.

As our service wound to completion a cry was heard. The faint
whimpering of a baby. My first thought was that I wasn't hearing what I thought I had heard. I had been in prison for many years and had never even seen a baby inside of a prison (not counting my infrequent times in the visiting room.) But there it was again, a baby crying. Someone, a volunteer, had brought their baby into the service wrapped in a blanket unnoticed by the guards. I then thought, there was our 'baby
Jesus'. The parents of the yet unknown child were the children of an older couple (Lloyd and Nita Colbaugh) who had only a few years previously began their ministry to the prison. Even the great-grandmother, (Mom Carter) was a volunteer and had played a significant role in my own conversion, telling me that God had a plan for my life.

Life would go on and the incident of 'baby Jesus' coming to prison would fade to a memory, until the baby grew up and now is known throughout many countries far and wide as acclaimed Christian
singer/songwriter Sara Groves. I hope this story adds to your appreciation of the life of Sara and her family.
John C Thomson

Anonymous said...

The laughter of my children (and now, my grandchildren) is my favorite music at Christmas.

Pastor Dad

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