Winter is a time for reading. Winter is a time for movies. Winter is a time for music.
We have investigated some edifying, clean books and movies that could occupy your time this winter season – but what about good music? Music is especially associated with Christmas. In fact, Christmas has its own “genre” of music: the Christmas carol. Christmas music is one of the last vestiges of Christian influence in the West. I recall walking into a bakery a few years ago and hearing clearly the words of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” from the speakers. It was very odd hearing great truth about Christ and the Gospel in the midst of this secular place – but it was a reminder that even the world still likes Christmas carols, despite their Gospel-focused lyrics.
Sadly, for every inch that Christianity remains in the world, there is a mile that the world has infiltrated Christianity. Music is no exception. What type of music are we putting into our heads at Christmas? Are we going along with the fluffy, perhaps romantic songs of the world? Or are we anticipating and rejoicing in the birth of the Messiah even in what we listen to?
P. I. Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker Suite
One of the most famous Christmas “classical” songs is Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite. While I couldn’t commend attending the ballet to everyone, I can certainly commend listening to this beautiful piece of music. Granted, there are no lyrics. But good music doesn’t need lyrics. Instrumental music can be beautiful and, through its beauty, can point listeners to the Creator in all His beautiful character. At Christmas, how great our joy, for this beautiful Creator condescended to walk among us! There is great beauty in the truth of Christmas: God is with us. What’s more? You can listen without video for free right here.
The Piano Guys: A Family Christmas
This is a taste of “contemporary” instrumental music. Primarily only a piano and a cello, the Piano Guys make creative spins off many Christmas songs, familiar carols and modern songs alike. They are talented and often have an “upbeat” feel to their music. Lively and family-oriented, this is a great album to get into the “Christmas spirit” (to borrow a secular phrase!). NOTE: There is one song on this disc that ends with actual singing – while the lyrics are not ungodly per se, they are a bit nonsensical and fluffy. Yet, this one ending to one song does not take away from the merits of the whole album.
Sovereign Grace Music: Prepare Him Room
True “contemporary Christian” Christmas music, Prepare Him Room is a large album of both familiar carols and Sovereign Grace’s own writing. Many of the songs are rich in lyric, offering a great excuse to really meditate upon the theological truth of the incarnation. Different songs have different unique flavours, singers, and instrumentation to them, offering a diversity of God-glorifying Christmas music. This is strongly recommended listening for you as you prepare your mind and heart to worship the Lord this Christmas!
G. F. Handel: The Messiah
Okay, maybe I am cheating a little bit. Not only is this the 4th recommendation, breaking 2-weeks-worth of tradition, but this is not technically Christmas music. Though often played at Christmas, The Messiah originally was played around Easter. Yet, with such features as “For unto Us a Child Is Born” and “And Suddenly There Was with the Angel”, The Messiah has become a Christmas staple. It is an oratorio – that means it will sound like an opera. But don’t be dismayed! Be rather amazed by the beautiful talent in the voices, and pay careful attention to the lyrics. If you are not familiar with this combination of instrumental music, Scriptural lyrics, and soaring voices into one long and sweeping masterpiece, then please take this Christmas season to become acquainted.