A few years ago, one of my students made me a CD of Christmas carols and other holiday songs. He picked the songs out with his family and it is a gorgeous, GORGEOUS compilation of songs.
Today the pouring rain trapped my little ones inside and they were sort of antsy. And by ‘sort of antsy’ I mean, out of their minds antsy. We did all the regular things to combat being stuck inside like lots of singing and dancing, but still their little bodies were wiggling and squiggling all over the place.
Until I put on that CD.
They were mesmerized, soothed even, by the music. I played it quietly in the background and they settled in and even sang along. It was like we’d taken a collective deep breath. I looked around the room at my smiling, working, humming, singing little ones had one of those blessed teaching moments where I just stood still for a second and enjoyed being in their presence.
And so, I’m thinking maybe your life is busy like mine. Maybe you are antsy about some things and are about to wiggle right out of your skin. Maybe you need a moment of tranquility to stop and enjoy your life and the presence of those blessed to be in it with you. Maybe you’re like me, in need of a song to soothe your soul, to acquaint you with all that is good and pure and holy.
Here are my 10 favorites this year:
10. River by Sarah McLachlan. I wish I had a river I could skate away on. Alas, ice skates+me=one very bad idea. So I’ll just have to listen to the song and dream.
9. The Holly and the Ivy by the Virginia Girls Choir and Ana Hernandez This one reminds me of high school choir, of singing at the Madrigal Dinner. The members of the Virginia Girls Choir sing with such purity and innocence that it leaves me in awe.
8. The Night Before Christmas by Brandon Heath I love, love, love this one. I usually have to listen to it several times in a row before I can move on to the next song. So when you download this one and have to play it over and over again until your family throws things at you to make you stop, just remember I warned you.
7. Ring the Bells by Travis Cottrell featuring Natalie Grant Remember when I said you’d want to play that last one over and over again? Well, multiply that by 100 for this one. If you’re feeling blue, this song is the cure.
6. Christmastime is Here by Vince Guaraldi Trio Just put on some feetsy pajamas and snuggle up under a blanket. This one is an express train back to childhood. Sit back and enjoy the ride.
5. Silent Night by Yo-Yo Ma I do not know how Yo-Yo Ma makes such rich sounds come out of his cello, but you will love this one by the lights of the tree. You will love it in your car. You will love it pouring out of your earbuds in the grocery store as the children behind you in line cry and scream. You will smile at those children, even if they are your own children. That’s how great this song is.
4. What Child is This by Andrea Bocelli with Mary J. Blige Okay, get close because I’m going to tell you a little secret. I don’t even like this song. I’ll probably get one of my Christian cards taken away for saying that, but I don’t like this song. At least I didn’t like it until I heard this version of it. Mary J. Blige will break your heart with her raw emotion and then Andrea Bocelli will put it back together again.
3. Winter Snow by Chris Tomlin featuring Audrey Assad From the piano solo at the beginning to Audrey Assad’s earthy voice to the harmonies with Chris Tomlin, this song just wraps its arms around you. If you need to be reminded of the gentleness of God, take a moment to close your eyes and let yourself fall in love with this song.
2. Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song) by Amy Grant As a kid I used to wonder what Mary was thinking with the Son of God, you know, gestating inside her and all of that. Did she ever think maybe God should have picked someone else? Did she ever feel alone because she was the chosen one? This song is sung from Mary’s perspective and I love it because I think maybe Mary wasn’t so different from you and I. Maybe sometimes she doubted herself, felt alone, and needed the very breath of heaven to help her keep it all together.
1. O Holy Night by Celine Dion Admittedly, I’m not a Celine Dion fan, but that girl can sing and when she sings my most favorite of all Christmas carols, everything else fades away. This one gives me goosebumps and makes me cry every single time. It’s Terry’s favorite, too, and let me tell you, when we sing this one in church we are a sight to behold, blubbering and singing and wiping our noses and dabbing at our eyes. So grab a box of tissue and enjoy my most favorite of all Christmas carols: