What’s your favorite Christmas Music? Why?

It’s a three hour drive from our home to our cabin. The music selections get stale as we travel through some of the smaller communities and back roads. It’s not that we loose reception, just that it all sounds the same after a while.

Before we left yesterday for a trip to the cabin. I had the forethought to download some music to my smart phone. Despite the fact that I love music, I always seem to be behind on music trends. In high school, MTV had just come out. Did I watch any of it? Nope. I was too busy memorizing marching band music (yes, we did this for all parades and field shows- we did not use music) that included Sousa marches, the themes from Rocky and Patton, as well as Send in the Clowns, and practicing classical pieces for symphonic band. But, some of my fondest music memories are that of Christmas concerts and the holiday hymns we sang in church.

So, as we got started on our trip. My husband urged me to put on some “other” music, even saying, “how about that new Vince Gill CD you bought?” We had been depending on Gill’s newest compilation called “Oakie” for some of our cabin drives. It was at my husband’s prompting that I remembered I had downloaded some holiday albums to my iPhone’s music library.

I chose arbitrarily, but based on a fair amount of knowledge of what I liked and what I didn’t in holiday music. First, we listened to Christmas Is by the Percy Faith Orchestra. This was released in 1966 and contains traditional carols and hymns accompanied by a full orchestra and chorus. Very pretty to listen to, the music put us in the mood. But, alas it was only 30 minutes long.

Next, I chose another newly downloaded holiday compilation called Holiday Hits. This was published in 2007 and featured various artists from Sinatra to Elvis and everyone in between. It contains 30 songs, some more modern than traditional but most were welcome and easy to sing along with while we drove. I only had a problem with Little Town of Bethlehem because its pace was much too fast – it wasn’t “reverent” enough, I told my husband. After all, it’s a hymn.

All the music got me thinking about which Christmas carols I love. Did you know the name Carol means joyous song? It does and I am reminded of that every year at this time. I am proud to bear such a well meaning name!

What follows are some of my favorite carols or hymns from holiday seasons past and present. My love for most of them can be traced back to my days in band, as well as church services during which we were honored to have musicians play with solists or the choir or on occasion as an instrumental solo. I fondly remember one Christmas Eve service for which I served as the flute accompaniment for Oh, Holy Night. It is one of my favorites hymns.

Some of the other songs stir emotions of either joy, excitement or awe in me and include:

We Need a Little Christmas

Sleigh Ride

It’s a Marshmallow World

Oh, Holy Night

Mary, Did you know?

O Come All Ye Faithful

Gloria In Excelsis Deo

Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song)- Vince Gill’s version

Winter Wonderland

Baby It’s Cold Outside

Santa Baby (Eartha Kitt’s version)

There’s more, of course, but these are the songs that we enjoyed today and will continue to enjoy through the holiday season.

We laughed as we drove, recalled old memories, reacquainted ourselves with who sang what and how long the songs have been around. Lately, every year when we play our Elf Movie Soundtrack CD and Santa Baby comes on, I hear myself repeating…..”Do you know this is Earth Kitt? We saw her in the Wizard of Oz at the Hummingbird Theater in Toronto in 1996 or ’97. ” I guess she made a big impression on me because I always bring up this memory. My husband says it’s because we are old. I’m not sure. I think it’s because it’s a memory that makes me happy, so I want to share it (and I do, over and over).

So, for the sake of posterity, here’s Eartha Kitt singing, Santa Baby! Enjoy!

You Tube Link to Earth Kitt singing Santa Baby.

What are some of your favorite holiday carols, hymns, or joyful sounds?

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