CN+R STAFF PICKS | FAVORITE CHRISTMAS SONG

In the mood for some Christmas music? Here are favorites of your News + Record staff.

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Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming


Christmas is full of music from the sacred to the silly; picking a favorite isn’t easy. But the key to any music is how does it touch you and, for me, that Christmas song is “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.” But here’s the kicker; I’m not entirely sure why, except it touches me. I’ve never sung it, although I’ve read the lyrics and it’s the story of Jesus at Christmas. In the end, I think why it touches me is in some unknown way it reminds me of my father who, as far as I know, had no special thought about the song. But the words and melody remind me of my earthly father who I see as a model of my Heavenly Father, someone who loves me unconditionally and is always present. I love you Dad, and miss you still ...

- Bob Wachs, columnist

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel


My favorite is an oldie but a goodie. “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” traces its origins to the 8th or 9th Century; Wikipedia tells me that the 1851 translation by John Mason Neale from “Hymns Ancient and Modern” is the most prominent by far in the English-speaking world. You likely know at least the first verse:

O come, O come, Emmanuel,

And ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here,

Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel.

I love Christmas music because it speaks to the promise of the Savior, and this song makes clear that promise is worth rejoicing for. And thanks to Spotify, my “Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel” playlist is long indeed — which means lots of opportunity to rejoice. (Although I actually get the most comfort these days from the instrumental versions, of which there are dozens.)

Do I get tired of listening to the same song over and over? Sometimes. It’s then I put on the best Christmas album of all-time: the incomporable Johnny Mathis’ 1958 “Merry Christmas,” to this day the gold standard of holiday tunes.

- Bill Horner III, publisher and editor

Beautiful Star of Bethlehem

My favorite Christmas song is “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem.” Not only do I love the song, but it was one of my grandad’s favorite as well. He was born in December, married in December and died on Christmas Day of 1998. He was of Scotch-Irish descent and the most Christian man I knew. Each of his grandchildren sang this song at his funeral.

- Karen Pyrtle, business manager

The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)

This classic carol is a staple for every Christmas playlist. Nat King Cole’s 1946 rendition of the holiday favorite has been considered one of the best Christmas songs for generations and never fails to get people singing about Jack Frost nipping at their nose or folks dressed up like Eskimos. My dad always plays this song on Christmas morning as we are opening presents or preparing for dinner, so it also brings that feeling of childhood nostalgia for me — which is a huge part of the whimsy of the holiday season.

Without a doubt, this Christmas classic holds a special place — not just in my heart — but in the hearts of many who celebrate the holiday.

- Taylor Heeden, reporter

Heat Miser

I’ll be honest: I don’t usually listen to or sing Christmas music unless I’m in church. I like headbanging music, and most Christmas music just isn’t that (and for a good reason). A few years ago, however, I found a Christmas song cover album compilation put together by a couple of Christian rock bands, among them “Heat Miser” by Thousand Foot Krutch. The song really turns up the “heat,” and it’s a headbanging song I return to year after year around Christmas time.

- Victoria Johnson, La Voz de Chatham reporter

O Holy Night

My all-time favorite Christmas song is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (great minds think alike!), but a very close second is “O Holy Night.” I like just about any rendition, but my favorite versions currently, in this order respectively, are by Céline Dion, Etta James and Maverick City Music.

My mom loves Christmas music, so I grew up on songs of the season from Thanksgiving through January and feel a special nostalgia and joy listening to Christmas songs. While I also enjoy the more upbeat and silly/fun Christmas songs (looking at you, “Santa Baby” and “All I Want For Christmas Is You”), “O Holy Night” is especially lovely to me because of the story of the birth of Jesus.

I also love that the song, originally penned by French poet Placide Cappeau in 1843 (and translated into English in 1855 by Minister John Sullivan Dwight), includes abolitionist sentiments. Many churches and singers have historically omitted that part of the third verse, whether intentionally or because of the song’s traditional rendition. That verse:

Truly he taught us to love one another,

His law is love and his gospel is peace;

Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother,

And in his name all oppression shall cease.

What joyous news! Not only was Jesus born, but he was born to bring peace, break chains and end all oppression. I get chills every time I hear/sing that reminder.

- Hannah McClellan, education reporter and web editor

Christmas Time is Here

My favorite Christmas song is “Christmas Time is Here” from the 1965 Charlie Brown Christmas special. It was written by the Vince Guaraldo Trio for the program. I was 12 at the time and loved watching anything to do with Charlie Brown and his friends.

- Kim Hawks, photographer

All I Want For Christmas Is You

For me, it’s not even close. I’m the type of person who loves songs that make me want to dance and this song gets me in that spirit. Although I am Jewish, I actually love Christmas music in December. Although this might be a classic answer, I’m not sure any song comes close.

- Max Baker, sports/social media intern

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