ten things tuesday: christmas songs

December 10, 2008

Since I teach music in schools, Christmas music is part of my yearly life, whether I like it or not. Despite my personal religious leanings, I have to teach the kids music that very obviously posits a Christian message. I really don’t have much of a problem with this as I a) don’t teach the message, and b) think some of the music is very worthwhile for teaching. So here is a list of ten Christmas songs I actually like.

1. Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.
At the school where I went to college, they hold an annual Renaissance Feast where people dress up in period and near-period garb, eat a somewhat authentic 16th century meal and listen to a lot of music. The final song of each one of these has been “Lo, How a Rose.” The university chamber singers all hold candles set into tankards, since the song to guitar, then process out of the main dining hall where the song trickles away into silence as though all these lovely singing nobles are wandering to bed down the endless corridors of some long forgotten castle. Bone-chilling.

2. The Christmas Song.
Maybe its that its a crooner, maybe its that the song is so simple. I like that the song talks about the simple joy of Christmas, regardless of what or why. I can get behind twinkling eyes of children anyday.

3. Coventry Carol
I have this recording of the King Singers, a very famous a capella men’s chorus, singing this song. Haunting is one of the only words I have to describe it.

4. Sleigh Ride.
This one is so much fun to play. There is a Leroy Anderson version of this song that takes it into a jazz feel at the end, lots of syncopation and the like. It’s really just a blast to play.

5. It’s Cold Outside.
I’ll admit I first heard this one on the movie Elf. Will Ferrell isn’t exactly a perfect vocalist, but he did a good enough job to make my spine shiver a little bit. It’s a nice sexy song for lovers at winter, and duets are always fun.

6. Let it Snow.
Another song for those coming out of the cold. It just makes me want to cuddle up next to someone before drinking some hot apple cider or eating some pumpkin pie. Mmm. Pie…

7. The Twelve Days of Christmas.
Okay, so really the original song isn’t my favorite version. That goes to the 12 Drunken Daze of Christmas by someone I don’t know. Nothing like hearing a lady sing at a piano about all the drinking she’s doing, and the resulting effect. There has also been the 12 XXX Days of Christmas, the 12 Things at Christmas (That Are Such a Pain), and, of course, the Muppet Twelve Days of Christmas, where Miss Piggy sings “five golden rings.” And here is a version, you probably haven’t heard:

8. Carol of Bells.
If you don’t like this song, you’re head is broken. There has been so many different versions of this song that it’s hard to find a favorite. South Park even did one. Look it up. It’s funny.

9. Greensleeves.
I’m not sure if this is a traditional Christmas song or not, but I’ve heard it played at Christmas and it just made sense. There are great versions of this song everywhere. You’ve heard it. Some call it “What Child is This?” but that’s not the original name of the song.

10. Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah
The story behind this goes as such: When Georg Fredrick Handel performed this song for the first time, it was at an audience for the King of England. The King was so moved by the majesty and glory of this song, he felt compelled to stand, and when the King stands, so do you. So, a time honored tradition, even in America, is to stand during a performance of the Hallelujah Chorus. And now, you too can be part of a several hundred year old tradition.

That’s all for now. Happy Wednesday!



  1. Good line up for the kids.

    Can you finish this thought:

    There’s a poodle in my stroodle…

  2. I can! And his name is Minkey Boodle!

    Great song choices. I first heard “It’s Cold Outside” at Thanksgiving this year. Eva has a music decoration with two polar bear lovers that sing it to eachother. It just makes you feel all warm inside. 🙂

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