With Christmas around the corner and with the proliferation of new Christmas music, we have picked out our favorite Christmas songs. In order for a song to qualify, it needs to have been released this year and it needs to have been sent to us.
10. Mark Lowry "Mary Was the First to Carry the Gospel" from Lowry's "How We Love"
Lowry is best known for co-writing the Christmas classic "Mary Did You Know." Now, he returns with another song where the mother of Jesus is the protagonist again. "Mary Was the First One to Carry the Gospel" is an apt sequel to "Mary Did You Know." Over some zesty old school Gospel oohs and aahs, this prequel finds a Mary not in her contemplative stare, but on her feet heralding the good news of Jesus.
9. Paul Baloche "What Child is This/Emmanuel" from Baloche's "Christmas Worship Vol. 2"
As far as the carols augmented with worship songs are concerned, some of them work brilliantly. Baloche's "What Child is This/Emmanuel" is a lodestar of an example. While "What Child is This" details with perspicuity the unmistakable identity of Jesus as the Christ-child, "Emmanuel" gorgeously leads us seamlessly into a worshipful response.
8. MercyMe "Newborn" from MercyMe's "MercyMe! It's Christmas"
Starting off with the pull of grandiose sounding strings leading into a Jim Steinman-style of theatrical pop, "Newborn" is an epic song that merges the sounds of rock, pop, and the pulling sentimentality of Christmas altogether. It's quite a stellar masterpiece where chords from "Away in a Manger" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" are weaved together with newly written threads.
7. Laura Story featuring Brandon Heath "Behold the Lamb of God" from Story's "God With Us"
Known for her ability to craft a power ballad (a la "Blessings" and "Grace"), Story returns with what she does best. "Behold the Lamb of God" is a power ballad that builds to a crescendo of great height uplifting Jesus from the Christ-child to the triumphant Lamb that has overcome the world.
6. Nightlife Worship "While Shepherds Watch Their Flock By Night" from Various Artists' "Dream Christmas Vol. 3"
One gets a little nervous when modern worship teams try to update old hymns with new melodies and give them a contemporary. All nervousness can be laid to rest with Nightlife Worship. In fact, they do a better rendition relative to the original, and that's a rarity!
5. TaRanda Greene "Still, Still, Still/O Holy Night" from Greene's "The Spirit of Christmas"
The richly orchestrated "Still Still Still" magically transports us back into those 50s-styled sepia-toned movies where music had a movingly romantic ambiance. And this perfectly segues us in into a dynamic performance of "O Holy Night," which has already become a signature hit in TaRanda's repertoire.
4. Reslife Worship "Higher (Christmas Version)" from Various Artists' "Dream Christmas Vol. 3"
Destined to be a worship classic across churches worldwide is the title cut "Higher." What sets "Higher" apart from many contemporary worship songs is that it brings out the Biblical truth of how God's inhabitation of our praises grows and grows as our worship intensifies: "We will lift you higher, higher/You will show yourself stronger, stronger/For you laid down your life/No greater sacrifice, Jesus."
3. Kenny Rogers "Once Again It's Christmas" from Rogers' "Once Again It's Christmas"
After all these years, what is still the drawing card of any Kenny Rogers album is his ear for songs with melodies that transcend time. This album is no different. Rogers showcases his mettle for a great song with the title cut "Once Again It's Christmas." Sounding like it's made for the soundtrack of a Disney movie, "Once Again It's Christmas" is a beautiful song awash with gorgeous strings and saxophone as Rogers croons his way through the nostalgia of the season.
2. Garry Kean "I Give You Me" from Keane's "This Christmas With You"
Christmas is often denigrated as the season of buying, selling, and mere materialistic giving. But we often forget the ultimate Giver of All. Worship leader and songwriter Garry Kean on "I Give You Me" eradicates such an oversight as he challenges us to give our most treasured gift to the ultimate Giver - and that's our lives.
1. Chris Tomlin "A King Like This" from Tomlin's "Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship"
Capturing melodiously both the majesty of the Christ-child as well as the palatability of his incarnation, "A King Like This" is both intimate as well as Christ-exalting. This worship ballad not only describes the self-sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but it challenges us to "lift up our eyes to the King."