We Christians LOVE our Christmas music. From the manger scenes and candlelight services to Christmas pageants and Advent wreaths, we are all in. So it's no surprise that many Christian artists release multiple Christmas albums over the course of their career, and for new talent, it's just a matter of biding their time until it's their turn to take on the classics and put their own twist on December 25.
In 2013, the Christian Christmas releases started coming out as early as September, and here at Rhapsody we've counted nearly a dozen new holiday projects. That means there's plenty of brand-spanking new music to get you through December. Our favorite, hands down, is Brandon Heath's Christmas Is Here. Despite the summer recording date (almost all holiday music is recorded during the hottest months), the album seems to effortlessly strike a wintry tone and transports listeners back to a simpler time. You'll hear hints of Nat King Cole and Harry Connick, Jr., as Heath remakes a bunch of Christmas classics and adds three new tracks to the mix.
Our favorite new Christmas single has to be "Light of Christmas" by Owl City (featuring TobyMac). This standalone track is from the new VeggieTales DVD Merry Larry and the True Light of Christmas, but you don't need to watch that to appreciate this high-energy Christmas song. It fits nicely alongside For King & Country's Into the Silent Night (EP). This band is best appreciated live, so the disc definitely benefits from a live version of "Baby Boy." Sidewalk Prophets will also get you in a festive mood with Merry Christmas to You. Don't miss their version of "White Christmas," sung along with Francesca Battistelli.
Anthem Lights' Simple Little Christmas (EP) is another holiday gem, particularly the title track. This romantic holiday original is about finding all you need in that special someone (no presents under the tree required). Rounding out the pop and rock offerings is Vintage Christmas Wonderland, an EP by former Superchick guitarist David Ian. These five songs add a jazzy feel to our celebrating, and Ian's velvety voice is perfect for classic holiday fare, including his version of "Winter Wonderland." Finally, Phillips, Craig & Dean lend a pastoral tone with Hope for All the World.
On the worship front, we have The Songs of Christmas Worship by one of our favorite modern songwriters, Paul Baloche. He mixes modern worship choruses with Christmas classics in a way that invites listeners to sing their prayers. Meanwhile, North Point Music is back with its second seasonal release, North Point Christmas: Let There Be Light. Overall, the album has a big worship sound, but it is at its most beautiful when it relies on spare string arrangements, such as on "What Child Is This?" Ernie Haase & Signature Sound's latest, Christmas Live, puts the focus squarely on holiday fun, and there's nothing more fun than a Southern gospel rendition of "Heat Miser." For an urban gospel Christmas, turn to Marvin Sapp's Christmas Card; a true family affair, this album features the Sapp kids as well as beautiful originals like the title track.
If you're still not sure where to start, listen to our Christian Christmas Mix 2013 to get a great sampling of the best of this holiday season.