A playlist curated from the staff at Country Club Christian Church for Advent 2020. Songs include favorite renditions of a Christmas song and other songs that capture our Advent spirit this year with our church’s Advent theme of “Home by Another Way.” Find this playlist on Spotify and Apple Music at the links below:
“Home by Another Way” by James Taylor (added by Carla Aday)
My favorite line is when he sings “maybe you and be can be wise guys too and go home by another way” This inspires some of my thinking on this year’s sermon series. In a world where there are many challenges and dangers, the wise ones avoid the political snares. When Christ is born in our lives, we will be inspired to go a new way in our lives.
“Joy to the World” by Sufjan Stevens (added by Sara Goering)
Every Christian knows the hymn “Joy to the World”. It is often used to signify the arrival of Christmas as many churches save this triumphant hymn for Christmas Eve. This arrangement of “Joy to the World” is softer, gentler, and more intimate. It reminds me of the quieter moments of the Christmas season that I cherish so much. It is also a good reminder that joy can be felt and expressed in many different ways.
“River” by Joni Mitchell (added by Lara Schopp)
The first time I heard this song was when a character on a television show played it as part of the story. I don’t recall the show or the storyline but the song moved me, even more so when I heard the original by Joni Mitchell. It’s been covered by hundreds of artists and I have many favorite versions, but nothing beats Joni’s.
“Dona Nobis Pacem” by YoYoMa (added by Mike Graves)
I love his cello renditions of all the classics.
“The Mission: Gabriel’s Oboe” by YoYo Ma and Ennio Morricone (added by Carla Rauth)
The lyrics of Hayley Westenra in an alternate version are beautiful to me: “Whispers in a dream / The world is quiet and waiting / And all around the air is still / Then sings the angel. / When all has come to pass / The storm has breathed its last / And the rain has washed our fears away / Love will fall…”
“Holy Is His Name” by John Michael Talbot (added by Joe Walker)
“Holy Is His Name” is the John Michael Talbot arrangement of Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). Talbot likes to say, “let’s dare to believe that all things are possible with God, not only in other people’s lives but in our lives, our parish, our world.”
“Christmas Song” by Dave Matthews Band (added by Rachel Wymore)— I think I’m showing my age here with these picks, clearly I was a teenager in the 90’s! I have always loved Dave Matthews and love this completely non traditional Christmas song. When I was looking for the link I came across this article which I thought was really good.
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by James Taylor (added by Sara Goering)
Honestly, I have been reluctant to listen to Christmas music this year, especially on the radio. This morning on my way to work, I stumbled upon one station that was playing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by James Taylor. This song has always been one of my favorite Christmas songs, but as soon as it started, I was immediately struck by the appropriateness of this song right now. This year, our Christmases may seem “little” because we are not gathering with all of our friends and families. In this particular version recorded by James Taylor, there are some deviations from the original lyrics of the song. This version recognizes that we are struggling right now and aching to be with friends and family. It is expressed so well in the last line of the song: “In a year, we all will be together, if the Fates allow. Until then, we’ll just have to muddle through somehow. And have ourselves a merry little Christmas now.” This year, our Christmases may seem “little” – but doing whatever we can to keep our loved ones safe during this pandemic is really the biggest thing we can accomplish right now.
“Home” by Caribou (added by Tyler Heston)
This one’s not a Christmas song but felt fitting for our Advent theme, “Home by Another Way.” Caribou released the album with this song right before quarantine, and this album and song have both been favorites of the year. It’s a bright little song that makes me thankful for the home(s) I’ve had this year.
“Here Comes the Sun” by SYML (added by Sara Goering)
While not a typical Christmas song (unless you utilize a groan-worthy pun: “Here Comes the Son”), I think this song lends itself perfectly to the Advent season this year. Jesus is often characterized as the light of the world. Now, more than ever, we need to see and feel that light. We pray for light to break through the clouds of illness, division, and uncertainty. We pray for the light of Christ to bring healing to a broken world.
“Star of Wonder” by The Roches (added by Carla Aday)
This one is a meditative reflection on our own journey through the season.
“O Holy Night (A Capella)” by *NSYNC (added by Rachel Wymore)
In my opinion O Holy Night is the end all be all Christmas song. It’s the best! And (reserve judgement here) the N’Sync version is my favorite! Followed closely by the Josh Groban version, sorry Nat King Cole.
“How Great Thou Art (ft. Jennifer Hudson)” by Pentatonix (added by Rachel Wymore)
This song gives me chills. Jennifer Hudson is just such an amazing talent.
“Labor of Love (feat. Jill Phillips)” by Andrew Peterson (added by Sara Goering)
I had the privilege of performing this song with my dad years ago for a Christmas Eve service. This song shines a more realistic light on the birth of Jesus. The lyrics begin, “It was not a silent night…” Every mother knows that there is no “perfect” childbirth. Jesus was born a human. Human is messy. Human is real.
“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by Sufjan Stevens (added by Leslie Tenjack)
Sufjan is my go-to for Christmas fuzzies.
“Get Behind Me, Santa!” by Sufjan Stevens (added by Tyler Heston)
The only Christmas I really like is Sufjan’s Christmas music. Each year for ten years, indie singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens recorded a Christmas EP to give out to friends and family; he’s released them all in two official collections with over 100 Christmas songs in total. It was hard to choose just one, but two others on staff had already chosen a couple of my favorites, so I went with my favorite silly Christmas song he has.
“Glittery (feat. Troye Sivan)” by Kacey Muskgraves (added by Tyler Heston)— Two of my favorite pop stars collaborate in this Kacey Muskgraves original Christmas song. It’s mushy, romantic, and should be on everyone’s Christmas playlist this year.
“Waiting for You” by Seal (added by Lisa Tang)
I’m afraid I don’t really have any Christmassy music in any of my playlists, but when I thought of the word “waiting,” I instantly thought of one of my all-time favorite Seal songs— “Waiting for You.” And now that I listen to it with your request in mind, some of the lyrics, particularly those in the chorus, sound quite fitting! “Everyone is just the same / They touch me / But I can’t say / There has been no one brighter than you / I can’t deny these things that I do / Feels like the world’s at stake ’cause / I have been waiting / I have been waiting for you.”
“O Holy Night” by Martina McBride (added by Rachel Clement)
This was the first Christmas CD I bought when I moved out on my own. I still pull it out to listen to it while we decorate our tree.
“Christmas Passing Through” by The Roches (added by Carla Aday)
This song makes me want to bake cookies and sit in front of the fire to drink hot chocolate!
“Mary, Did You Know” by Nathan Grace (added by Carla Rauth)
*Not on Spotify or Apple Music playlists
“Now the Holly Bears a Berry (The St. Day Carol)” by Steve Anderson (added by Joe Walker)
“Now the Holly Bears a Berry (The St. Day Carol)” is a Cornish piece dating back to the 19th century. Susan’s choir used to love to sing this bouncy, hopeful song back when we served at the same church.
“Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah (added by Carla Rauth)
Handal’s Messiah is always the most special to me.
“Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” by King’s College (added by Mike Graves)
Advent/Christmas seem to claim too much intimacy with God in my view, and I like how this hymn captures more of the mystery, especially in silence. It’s a haunting piece, but lovely all the same. It’s in our hymnal, #124. This version is by the choir of King’s College in Cambridge, England, whom I have heard sing it while on sabbatical there.
“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by King’s College (added by Mike Graves)
The tune is somewhat forlorn, which goes with the waiting of Advent and the suffering in the world; and then comes that crazy refrain, “Rejoice, rejoice,” and the feeling is more upbeat. To me, that captures the tension we feel in Advent but year around. This one is also in our hymnal, #119.
“O come, O come, Emmanuel” by The Notre Dame Basilica Choirs (added by Joe Walker)
O come, O come, Emmanuel is the first Advent hymn I learned as a Catholic grade school kid. Based on the O Antiphons dating back to the 8th century, it reiterates the hopes of the Old Testament writers. In Evening Prayer, it follows the Magnificat. There’s nice symmetry with this video from Lessons and Carols (2016) in the Basilica of the University of Notre Dame.
*Not on Spotify or Apple Music playlists
“Carol of the Bells” by Mannheim Steamroller (added by Lisa McCleish) I love listening to Mannheim Steamroller
It is the excitement and anticipation of Christmas.