The greatest Christmas songs . . . according to Greenbean, that is. I recognize that such things are highly subjective, and people can get quite entrenched, and everyone has his or her favorite(s). It is something I’ve been thinking about now for the last couple of days because one of the sprouts had her Christmas chorale concert yesterday. They did a great job and the music was superb. For years I was surrounded by people who hated Christmas music, and that was always a joykiller, but I really like it. Here are some of my favorites–and why, in no particular order.
The Little Drummer Boy–Bob Seger
For me this is a very emotional song. I can’t hear it that I don’t weep. I don’t mean a little tear form in the corner of my eye, I mean all-out-snot-wailing-convulsing-hot tears-the sadness will never end crying. One of the reasons for this is that I see myself in the narrative of the song. I am not a musician, but the drummer boy is a stand-in for everyone who wishes that their labor, though not perfect and not the best, be the best they can do for the Lord. I always want to play my best for him. Bah-rum-pa-ba-bum-
One more thing–the only rendition that does this to me is Bob Seger’s interpretation of the song. So, the formula is Bob Seger + The Little Drummer Boy = Crying!
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Veni, Veni Emmanuel–the Latin hymn. This is a one off–by that I man it is not, technically speaking, a Christmas hymn. It is an Advent hymn. For me, however, it sets the season aright. Without Advent, Christmas loses its spiritual power and becomes either a marketing campaign or a neat story about a poor boy born long ago. Advent, and the longings of this old hymn, provide the spiritual anchors for the season.
Linus and Lucy
Maybe it is my generation, but Christmas must have Schroeder banging on the piano while the Peanuts do their joyful, bizarre, and strangely unsupervised Christmas dance. The song is actually titled “Linus and Lucy” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. And yes, it is in my iPod, on the playlist titled “Cool Music,” just in case you were wondering.
For Unto Us a Child us Born–From Messiah
If my history is correct (and rest assured, it is, it always is) Handel wrote Messiah with Easter in mind, which is why the whole music turns on the blowing of trumpet toward the end of all things. However, in my mind it is inextricably linked with Christmas. There were a series of years where Mrs. Greenbean and I would go over and hear the Seattle Symphony perform Messiah during the Christmas season. Downtown would be alight with the beautiful decorations, everyone was dressed up, the weather was brisk, and it just feels like Christmas.
Messiah also reminds us that Christmas is theological. I believe every word in the musical is straight from Scripture. Classical music is the most Christian music.
Great was the company of the preachers.
O Holy Night
Mrs. Greenbean sang this one year at our Christmas Eve service. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and remains so. It was transcendent. I shall likely never hear anything as beautiful this side of eternity.
Honorable Mentions–“The 12 Days of Christmas” as sung by the Muppets and John Denver, Nat King Cole–any song, you name it, “The Boar’s Head Carol” by VeggieTales (seriously, this is a great album), “It’s Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by U2, “Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt.
So there you have it, these are my favorites. I’d love to hear from you–what is your favorite Christmas song?
Peanuts image from crushable.com