My 50 Favorite Christmas Songs: 2016 Edition

My 50 Favorite Christmas Songs: 2016 Edition

Who knew that a three-year stint could earn the power of tradition by missing a turn and crossing state lines? Yet I’m drawn back to updating the list of my 50 favorite Christmas(/Advent) songs, first posted in 2012. The list returned for 2013 and 2014 — with changes and additions each time.

It’s back again, with a couple newcomers (including one thanks to my friend Jerry) and a little rearranging of the Top 10. The previous 2014 ranking for each entry follows in parentheses. Last time, I linked every entry to a free online version that best captures the respective song’s quality (or just was available and sounded interesting). Most of the same links reappear on this version, though some have changed.

If you want to know the reason for this exercise (beyond the all-too-human appeal of list-making), as well as a capsule thought about each piece, you can find it all in the original 2012 post. Hopefully, you find some inspiration and enjoyment in the 2016 version of my top 50 Christmas songs:

1. O Holy Night / Cantique de Noel (1)
2. Hark the Herald Angels Sing (2)
3. O Little Town of Bethlehem (3)
4. Hallelujah Chorus, from Messiah (4)
5. Gesu Bambino (6)
6. Silent Night, Holy Night / Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht (5)
7. In the Bleak Midwinter (7)
8. Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming (11)
9. Coventry Carol (10)
10. Carol of the Bells (8)
11. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (9)
12. O Come, O Come Emmanuel (14)
13. Glory to God, from Messiah (12)
14. Mary’s Little Boy Child (13)
15. O Come, All Ye Faithful / Adeste Fideles (15)
16. Joy Has Dawned Upon the World (18)
17. Thou Who Wast Rich Beyond All Splendor (23)
18. And the Glory of the Lord, from Messiah (17)
19. Sleigh Ride (19)
20. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day (20)
21. I Wonder as I Wander (16)
22. Still, Still, Still (22)
23. Wexford Carol (24)
24. Sweet Little Jesus Boy (21)
25. O Magnum Mysterium (Lauridsen) (27)
26. Good Christian Men, Rejoice (26)
27. Do You Hear What I Hear? (25)
28. The Sussex Carol (On Christmas Night) (29)
29. Joy to the World (28)
30. Celtic Advent Carol (30)
31. Christmas Time is Here, from A Charlie Brown Christmas (31)
32. Mary Had a Baby (32)
33. O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion, from Messiah (34)
34. Hear the Lamb a Cryin’ (35)
35. Away in a Manger (Kirkpatrick) (36)
36. White Christmas (37)
37. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) (33)
38. Angels We Have Heard on High (39)
39. Linus and Lucy, from A Charlie Brown Christmas (38)
40. What Sweeter Music (41)
41. Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song) (42)
42. I’ll Be Home for Christmas (43)
43. For Unto Us a Child is Born, from Messiah (44)
44. Who Would Have Dreamed? (NR)
45. The Birthday of a King (40)
46. Of the Father’s Love Begotten (46)
47. Ding, Dong, Merrily on High (47)
48. On This Still and Silent Night (49)
49. Sweetest Music, Softly Stealing (NR)
50. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (45)

Watch all 50 Christmas Countdown selections on a YouTube playlist

Off the List from Last Year: Jingle Bells (48); Go, Tell it on the Mountain (50)

Other Honorable Mentions: Angels, From the Realms of Glory; Bring the Torch, Jeanette Isabella / Un flambeau, Jeannette Isabella; Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus; The First Noel; Home for the Holidays; How Great Our Joy; It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas; Love Came Down at Christmas; Once in Royal David’s City; The People That Walked in Darkness, from Messiah; What Child is This?; What Is This Lovely Fragrance?.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2017!

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