Saturday, December 8, 2018

My Favorite Things - Top 10 Favorite Christmas Hymns

Continuing from yesterday's post on favorite Christmas carols, I turn now to my favorite Christmas hymns.  As with the carols, the list is a little more expansive than traditional Christmas hymns and encompasses my favorite religious music of the seasons.  It touches on a lot of styles and types of artists, reflecting generally my fairly eclectic tastes in music.

With that stated, here is my list of top 10 favorite Christmas hymns, in no particular order.
  • I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day by Casting Crowns - a great update of the classic song.  The minor key and the echo really help sell the message of the song.
  • O Holy Night by David Phelps - One of the greatest male vocalists singing the most challenging Christmas hymn.  The C#5 at the end at full voice is one of the most impressive vocal performances I've heard.  I've seen him do this song live, followed by No More Night, and am continually astounded by his voice.
  • The Little Drummer Boy by Bing Crosby and David Bowie - A great reworking of The Little Drummer Boy with the Peace on Earth counterpoint.  I'm a sucker for counterpoint and love this old and new arrangement.
  • Joseph's Lullaby by MercyMe - It's amazing how your perspective on Christmas changes when you are a parent, and this is a prime example.  This song more than any other gets into Joseph's head for me in a way that humbles and comforts me.  The line "Lord I ask that He, in just this moment, simply be my child." has completely flipped the Christmas story for me, in a good way.  A beautiful song and a beautiful message.
  • How Many Kings by Downhere - A song I've come around to and have really grown to appreciate.  A wonderful reminder of what the true gift of Christmas is and why we have reason to celebrate.  Plus, there is incredible lyric work in this song, particularly in the "Gold for His honor, and frankincense for His pleasure, and myrrh for the cross He'll suffer" section.
  • Joy To The World (Unspeakable Joy) by Chris Tomlin - A great driving and upbeat Joy to the World.  The Unspeakable Joy chorus is a nice addition to the traditional hymn, providing a great opportunity for the expansion of harmony and the sound.  Now if only to add the course from Three Dog Night and it would be perfect.
  • Glory to God in the Highest by the Old Friend Quartet - a classic gospel quartet song backed by the best in gospel music via the Gaither choir.  The breakout section varying the chorus is amazing and an amazing true bass in the late George Younce.
  • All is Well by Voctave - this is such a simple song, but so beautiful. I've sang this as a solo before and the simple melody is so haunting and perfect to capture the message of the angels that night.  Voctave simply is one of the best a cappella groups in existence.   Exquisite arrangements, unearthly sopranos.  Many of these vocalists are part of the Voices of Liberty at Epcot at Disney World and they bring their beautiful talents to a great variety of songs in Voctave.
  • Peace on Earth/Silent Night by Dean Martin - as I said before, I'm a sucker for counterpoint and this is a beautiful variation.  The Peace on Earth melody overlaid on Silent Night enriches both songs.  Originally written for Lady in the Tramp, Dean Martin performs the definitive version.
  • Ave Maria by Leslie Odom, Jr. -  I have always loved the melody of this song and Leslie Odom, Jr.'s version is simply beautiful.  Pure voice with the simplest of accompaniment.  He makes this look effortless and it is so appreciated.
What are your favorite Christmas hymns?  Have I overlooked any?

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