By Bryn Rademaker
MERRY CHRISTMAS, y’all. It’s the season we all (well, most of us) have been waiting for: the most wild birthday celebration of all time!
Instead of diving into just one beautiful tune this month, I realized that one of the blessings of this liturgical season is the ability to share in many different moments of joy, peace, and adoration with the Lord—three themes I wish to share with you through the gift of music.
And so my Christmas gift to you this year is not just one song, not just one album, but 3 albums packed with glorious Christmas delight!
Joy by Steven Curtis Chapman
The first is by one of my favorite Christian artists, Steven Curtis Chapman. You may have heard his famous song “Cinderella,” but did you know he has plenty of other rich and meaningful songs too? His Christmas album from 2012 entitled Joy highlights a few simple, familiar Christmas tunes as well as a handful of holiday originals.
One song I’d like to highlight is “I Am Joseph (God is With Us)”, an original in which Chapman portrays the experience and personal testimony of each person in the Bible that’s involved with the birth of Jesus. Jonathan Andrew reviews this song on Indie Vision Music and comments, “As Steven’s poignancy declares his ability to relate to each of the Christmas story players (from identifying with Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, King Herod, and the wise men), we are encouraged that no matter what part we play in the grand unfolding of the story of Christ and His reign, we are able to know that ‘God is with us, God is for us.’”
Peace on Earth by Casting Crowns
This second album takes me back to snowy Christmas break weekends, baking cookies with my family, and listening to the beautiful melodies of Peace on Earth playing softly in the background. Casting Crowns pieces together blends of originals and traditional Christmas hymns like Chapman. However, they pull in a few reinforcements, especially heard in their track called “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Showcasing a Chattanooga, Tennessee-based boys’ choir voicing the sound of bells in the background, this song narrates the tragedies that Longfellow experienced after losing his wife in a house fire and the aftereffects of his song in the Civil War. Although he works through difficult times during the Christmas season, the bells ringing give him a sense of hope in the Lord.
Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship (Live) by Chris Tomlin
The final album I encourage you to listen to this holiday season is one by another favorite artist of mine, Chris Tomlin, in conjunction with other talented Christian artists featured in a few of his songs. You may have heard of the rising star Lauren Daigle in her new, entrancing songs on the radio, but Tomlin noticed her gift years ago when he asked her to sing “Noel.” Tomlin tells Billboard Magazine that “there’s something ancient about the melodies in that song that gives it a timeless feel.” With placement of the new lyrics: “Come and see what God has done,” he adds a new sparkling perspective to the traditional hymn, not to mention the incredibly powerful voice of Daigle.
Whatever your tradition may be each holiday season, these albums are worth the addition to your homes as you gather with family and friends to celebrate Jesus’ birth. My hope and prayer is that these tunes draw you closer to Christ by redirecting your focus towards our Savior’s miraculous Nativity this Christmas. Enjoy!