What does the Advent and Christmas season sound like to you? For my family, it sounds like Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Günter Kallmann, Dean Martin, and Ray Conniff echoing in every crevice of our home. It sounds like our feet squishing the snow as my dog and I go for a walk. Or the kettle whining while we pour hot water over a mug of hot cocoa or tea. But, to me, Christmas also sounds quiet and still.
Many artists over the years have created their own songs for the season, not the least of which include the aforementioned talents. So I’ve curated a simple list of 7 songs to guide us through this Advent and Christmas season. Although many of these songs speak of Christmas and Christ in varying degrees, they also sound a tad bit somber.
Do you ever find that sometimes this time of the year can also bring out feelings of sadness? Over in this part of the world, it makes sense when we consider that our days are getting shorter and nights are getting longer. We’re enveloped in darkness and gloomy weather, so our bodies and mental states may also be reflecting this same mood.
Then there’s the fact that 2020 was really hard for all of us. We’ve had to surrender our control over a lot of things and learn to trust God every step of the way. And while many of us are still able to have a roof over our heads and get back on our feet, we also have many other brothers and sisters who are not as fortunate.
But guess what — that’s precisely why Advent is so important. It reminds us that our world is broken and in need of healing and promises us that the Light of the world is coming.
Long lay the world in sin and error, pining
'Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn'
— lyrics from "O Holy Night"
If you find yourself in despair, over what has happened this year or over other events personal to you, don’t be afraid to bring it to the manger. Our Saviour King, Jesus, was not birthed in a lavish room surrounded by comfort and only knowing joy. He was born in a manger, a simple place unworthy of Christ, yet He lay there in the messiness of it all.
Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus is not afraid of your brokenness or messiness. He desires to be close to you this season, however prepared you are, in whatever state you’re in. Will you meet Him in the manger?
Songs for the Light to come: an Advent playlist
- Ave Maria - Frank Sinatra: In the melody of Franz Schubert’s timeless piece, Frank Sinatra sings the enlightening words the angel Gabriel speaks to Mary in the Annunciation. The choir accompanies his vocals, and all the more we feel the presence of Heaven meeting Mary in the most pivotal moment of her life.
- Seasons - Hillsong Worship: This song is all about waiting, which is fitting both for the winter and Advent season. In this time of year, we’re called to slow down and remain hopeful in our waiting.
- Is Christmas Only a Tree - Bing Crosby: This is a sweet reminder that beyond all the material hallmarks of the Christmas season, we must remember that the true gift of this time is Jesus Christ.
- Where Are You Christmas? - Faith Hill: A bittersweet song from the 2000 film adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ classic tale, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Both the song and the movie remind us that kindness and compassion are important ingredients for sustaining the Christmas spirit.
- If Everyday Was Like Christmas - Elvis Presley: Could it be wishful thinking, or is this really what we are called to do? To prepare our hearts always, especially for the (second) coming of our Saviour.
- Come Thou Fount - Audrey Assad: The lyrics of this song really tug at my heart. They reveal truth that we all carry in our hearts.
- Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus - Page CXVI: The drum beat in the entire song can be likened to a journey we all take during this season, much like the Magi as they journey towards the Messiah. The bridge in this song is especially powerful! The crescendo gives a sense of urgency, of us running towards the Messiah expected to come, and in the end peace and calmness befalls. Our Saviour has arrived, and like the Magi, we stand in awe of the Light of the world.