If all the Christmas music you listen to is from your local radio station, then you have been missing out on some of the best Christmas music that is out there! Honestly, you can only hear "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" so many times before your head explodes.
Here's a guide to some of my favorite Christmas albums:
This was the first - and arguably the best - Mannheim Steamroller Christmas album, and there's not much on it that I don't like. The first track, "Deck the Halls" can be heard everywhere, but "Good King Wenceslas" is a joyful track that gets toes tapping, and this version of "Silent Night" is the best one not sung inside a church. Did you know that this album is now 30 years old?
That's Christmas to Me is brand-new this year, and I love listening to it. My students love it, too - especially songs like "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" and their gospel version of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." They have a couple of non-Christmas songs including the Decemberists' "White Winter Hymnal" and a mashup of "Don't Worry Be Happy" with "Winter Wonderland."
I like this one over their first Christmas album, PTXmas, but that first one has a few stellar tracks including "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" and "Little Drummer Boy," the latter of which I could listen to on a loop!
This is a childhood favorite of mine, and it starts strong and finishes strong. This is where you'll hear the original version of "Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song)" and undoubtedly the best. It truly isn't Christmas until I hear "Emmanuel, God with Us" and the incredible "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring."
There is a lot of Christmas piano albums out there, but I love this one based on one song: "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." It's such a different take on the carol and it fits so well. I also enjoy listening to "Do You Hear What I Hear" (even though I'm not a big fan of the song itself) and "When Christmas Comes to Town."
This album chronicles the coming of Jesus as a baby. It's a mix of instrumental and vocal tracks that starts back in the Old Testament and and connects it with the new. Some of my favorite vocal tracks are "It Came to Pass" and "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks," and I love the instrumental tracks for "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" and "The Holly and the Ivy."
Another childhood favorite with some amazing brass players from up north. This has the only version of "Ding Dong! Merrily on High" I ever want to listen to, and has a few other Christmas carols that you won't hear on the radio, like "Sussex Carol," "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella," and "Here We Come A-Wassailing." They throw in some comedy, too, in the songs "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Frosty the Snowman." Well, you know what happens when Frosty gets hot.
This movie was released in 1992 and the music has stuck with me after all these years. I absolutely love this movie, and I absolutely love the songs. From "Scrooge" to "One More Sleep 'till Christmas" and "It Feels Like Christmas" there aren't many recycled Christmas carols here. It's all original, and it's all very fresh.
This album is now 25 years old, but I only discovered it a few years back. From start to finish, this album is my favorite Christmas album. It has a few familiar carols like "O Come, All Ye Faithful" and "Gloria" ("Angels We Have Heard on High"), but has other fantastic original pieces like "All is Well" and "Lux Venit." The arrangements are so full thanks to the full choirs and orchestra behind him.
Have any recommendations for Christmas albums? Please comment below!