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JfH Christmas

We at the JFH love Christmas. In 2007, the JFH staff picked their favorite holiday tunes. It's been three years since then, and with new music and new staff since then, we decided it was high time to update the list and introduce some new staff picks. Like last itme, we've each aimed to select our top three Christian market releases as well as our top two traditional projects that we've grown up with over the years. So without further ado, here's our Top 5 Christmas albums... Candy Cane
john dibiase
1 Jars Of Clay, Christmas Songs -
"It's tough to capture the Christmas spirit in most modern Christmas music but Jars of Clay does it seemingly effortlessly as they craft a fresh and festive full-length Christmas debut."
2Family Force 5, Christmas Pageant -
"Since we did this list three years ago, Family Force 5 has released an official Christmas project. While it honestly wasn't all that I could have hoped it to be (they still haven't released their fun version of 'Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer'), it's one I'm already having fun revisiting and one I can see myself pop in each year... or at least enjoy having in the mix with the other albums."
3Rebecca St. James, Christmas / Steven Curtis Chapman, All I Really Want For Christmas (Tie) -
"When it comes to these two CCM staples, both have recorded some great new takes on favorites while introducing some really great originals. Both are in my annual Christmas tune rotation."
4Percy Faith, Christmas Melodies -
"Composer Percy Faith created some of the most beautiful instrumental Christmas albums you'll ever hear. This one in particular really stands out, even offering a couple fun little vocal tracks like "We Need A Little Christmas."
5Spike Jones, Spike Jones Christmas / Bing Crosby, White Christmas (Tie) -
"I was going to go exclusively with one or the other, but both are Christmas favorites. Crosby is not only in two great Christmas films ("Holiday Inn" and "White Christmas"), but he has definitely been "The Voice Of Christmas." Band leader Spike Jones, on the other hand has taken his silly and fun approach to music and applied that to one of the most wonderful Christmas albums out there. Amazing how he can go from the hilarious "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" to the gorgeous, tender ballad "Christmas Cradle Song." Pure genius."

JFH ornament Artists I Want To See A Christmas Project From: -
Plumb, Switchfoot, Charmaine and Needtobreathe (C'mon guys, you've got a fantastic version of "Go Tell It On The Mountain"... expand it to an EP at least!)

jm farro
1Third Day, Christmas Offerings -
"Mac Powell's incredible voice makes this Christmas album one of my all-time favorites. Third Day really knows how to handle traditional Christmas tunes. Yet their original, "Christmas Like a Child," is the one that brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it."
24Him, The Season of Love -
"This album captures 4-Him at their very best. If it only had one song on it--their original "A Strange Way to Save the World"--it still would be worth the price in my book."
3NewSong, The Christmas Shoes -
"I loved this album well before its title song was turned into a TV movie. It's one of the first Christmas albums I listen to each year, and it gets better with time. "Sing Noel" and "Light Your World" are two original tunes that I consider classics."
4Spike Jones, It's A Spike Jones Christmas -
"If I had to pick one "secular" Christmas album, this would be it hands-down. Spike Jones was one of my dad's favorite musicians, and he played this old album so much that it became filled with scratches and skips. I was ecstatic when I discovered it on CD several years ago. It's my favorite for baking Christmas treats by!"
5Burl Ives, A Holly Jolly Christmas -
"Burl Ives has recorded my favorite folksy renditions of Christmas tunes. While his fun-filled "Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Snow for Johnny" were two of my favorites as a child, the ones that touch my heart most today are "Christmas is a Birthday" and "Christmas Child."

karen m
1Michael W. Smith, Christmas -
"This is a grand MWS production in every way. There are amazing vocal choir pieces, glorious instrumental songs, and old favorites arranged in new ways."
2Kevin Max, Holy Night -
"You will undoubtedly enjoy this Christ-centered Christmas album, as Kevin lends his familiar and pleasing voice to our favorite carols of the season."
3Vince Guaraldi, A Charlie Brown Christmas -
"This is a seasonal classic from 1965, yet it never grows old! Who wouldn't smile and fondly remember the music from the cartoon in which Charlie Brown was depressed by the commercialism of Christmas, yet comes to know the true meaning of the season."

JFH ornament Artists I Want To See A Christmas Project From: -
Salvador - "I think it would be fabulous to have a Latin-inspired Christmas album. Too fun!"

Roger Gelwicks
1Relient K, Let It Snow, Baby... Let It Reindeer -
"It was just too hard not to include this one. Sure, it's a somewhat inconsistent record mixing the old and new RK styles, but what can I say except that I loved these guys then and I love them now. There's a long way to go before I can legitimately deem this as "classic," but I thoroughly enjoy giving this a few spins every season, and even songs like 'I Celebrate the Day' I leave on my iPod for year-round play."
2Future of Forestry, Advent Christmas EP, Volumes 1 and 2 -
"I'm probably cheating here since these are really two projects and not one, but despite a two-year gap in between their releases, they flow amazingly well together. There's so much power and magnificence in these selections, and I'd be hard pressed to find other projects that capture the sacredness of the season better than these EPs. Modern Christmas rock can be tricky to nail, but FOF has got it."
3Amy Grant, Home For Christmas -
"Ever since I was a little kid this one has made an appearance on the family stereo on an annual basis, and to say it's grown on me would be an understatement. I can't say I'm a fan of Grant's music otherwise, but her soothing voice style works so well with this material. Yes, Grant has released more recent Christmas projects, but the aged feel here is irreplaceable for me."
4Nat King Cole, The Christmas Song -
"This one's got 'nostalgia' written all over it. Another family stereo staple, I used to always get bothered by the fact that he would skip beats while he sang, but like many musical idiosyncrasies, given enough time, you start to dig it. And while many have attempted, it's simply a fact that no one can sing the title track like Nat."
5Ruth Lyons, The Christmas Music of Ruth Lyons -
"Never heard of her? As a radio pioneer from decades ago, Lyon's collection of Christmas originals is undeniably obscure, but my family pops in the old cassette first thing every season. It's hard to argue that some of these tracks aren't completely cheeseball, it's all part of the fun. It's super rare and obscure, so if you can track down a copy (especially on CD), consider yourself lucky!"
JFH ornament Artists I Want To See A Christmas Project From: -
Anberlin (they've got too good of a vocalist NOT to put out something eventually), Jon Foreman (whether with Switchfoot, Fiction Family or as a solo act, I foresee a masterpiece just waiting to be unveiled), NEEDTOBREATHE (southern style Christmas rock!!).

John Choquette
1Relient K, Let It Snow, Baby... Let It Reindeer -
"Building upon the success of 2003's Deck the Halls, Bruise Your Hand, Relient K unleashed this incredible follow-up four years later. Featuring many of the songs from the previous release, in addition to new classics alike, this album is a must for any true Christmas music fan."
2various artists, Happy Christmas, Vol. 5 -
"The newest release in Tooth and Nail's Happy Christmas series is arguably its best. Instead of including songs from previous years as they have done in the past, the label enlisted some of the best of their past and current artists to create this incredible collection."
3House of Heroes, House of Heroes Presents the Christmas Classics -
"One of Christian music's most talented bands takes on some of the season's greatest hits in this short, yet satisfying collection. This EP is perfect for the fan who thinks that Suburba's 12-track length is simply just not long enough."
4Vince Guaraldi, A Charlie Brown Christmas -
"While A Charlie Brown Christmas is a classic yearly television event for many, it's the music that really takes it to the next level. Guaraldi's tunes are the perfect background to a night by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate."
5various artists, Tis the Season to Be Fearless -
"Known for launching the careers of mega-groups such as The Maine and Mayday Parade, Fearless Records has taken it upon itself to create a worthy rival to the Happy Christmas series for the secular music market. Made up of both original tracks and Christmas classics, here's hoping that this is only the first in a yearly series."

Jen Rose
1Andrew Peterson, Behold the Lamb of God: The True Tall Tale of the Coming of Christ -
"Andrew Peterson and friends breathe new life into the old story in one of the most unique Christmas albums I've ever heard. These songs go beyond the Christmas story to explore the world's longing and anticipation for a Savior in an album that is by turns epic and down to earth."
2Bebo Norman, Christmas... from the Realms of Glory -
"One of the first Christmas CDs to find its way into my car every year, Bebo Norman blends his folky songwriter roots with pop sensibilities in a beautiful collection of songs old and new. His cover of Jackson Browne's 'The Rebel Jesus' is one of my favorite unconventional Christmas songs."
3various artists, Happy Christmas -
"The original and still one of the best from Tooth & Nail's long-running series. A host of "old-school" T&N bands give the classics a new spin in the their unique styles, from synth to ska to punk. And seriously, where else can you find Five Iron Frenzy covering Rich Mullins?"
4Amy Grant, A Christmas Album -
"Amy Grant's original 1983 project is one of the first Christmas albums I remember hearing. My family just about wore this cassette out. I have a lot of fond memories of listening to 'Tennessee Christmas' (in Florida, yes) and Amy's unique takes on traditional hymns and carols."
5Michael W. Smith, Christmastime -
"Another part of my family's tradition. The symphonic arrangements have the epic feeling of a movie score, while songs like 'The Happiest Christmas' and 'Jingle Bells' evoke the nostalgic sound of Christmas classics. It's an eclectic mix that works, and one of the CCM icon's best."

Garrett DeRossett
1Relient K, Let It Snow, Baby... Let It Reindeer -
"If this catchy, fun, and rockin' collection of songs doesn't put you in the holiday spirit, nothing will."
2various artists, Happy Christmas, Vol. 4 -
"Ever since I first heard Mae's take on "Carol of the Bells," I knew this compilation would be a sure favorite; featuring tracks from Anberlin, Switchfoot and more, it'll be a surefire way to kick your Christmas up a notch."
3Joy Electric, The Magic of Christmas -
"It wouldn't be a surprise if you've never consciously wondered, 'What would happen if Joy Electric made a Christmas album?,' but after one listen to The Magic of Christmas, you'll understand how amazing it is."
4Vince Guaraldi, A Charlie Brown Christmas -
"The mostly instrumental project is a pure classic. Although it's perhaps not the most upbeat album going, it's perfect for quiet, solemn Christmas evenings."
5Sufjan Stevens, Songs for Christmas -
"Comprising forty-two songs spread over five discs, Sufjan's folky rendition of seasonal favorites (and even some non-seasonal ones) is peppy, trippy, and just a little bit brilliant."

Nathaniel Schexnayder
1Relient K, Let It Snow, Baby... Let It Reindeer -
"The hybrid of the band's witty rock tunes, and Relient K's grown-up, heartfelt songs is practically unmatched. It's an outstanding album for those who love Christmas parties and those who don't."
2Jars Of Clay, Christmas Songs -
"The sophisticated approach in Jars Of Clay's Christmas album is truly a work of art. You could be shopping for a long time to find a well rounded Christmas album of this caliber."
3various artists, X Christmas -
"This is a wonderful collaboration of Christmas classics sung as well as written by your favorite alt/rock artists. With different styles and mixes, this record is sure to win over both younger and older audiences."
4Vince Guaraldi, A Charlie Brown Christmas -
"The mostly instrumental project is a pure classic. Although it's perhaps not the most upbeat album going, it's perfect for quiet, solemn Christmas evenings."

JFH ornament Artists I Want To See A Christmas Project From: -
TobyMac , Mat Kearney, and Owl City

josh taylor
1various artists, Happy Christmas Volume 3 -
"This compilation actually makes me excited for Christmas, because it means I get to put it in and listen to it. Old favorites like Bleach, Cadet, Hangnail, and Earthsuit all contributed to it, and I'm the happiest boy in the whole world at Christmas because of it."
2Carman, A Long Time Ago... in a Land Called Bethlehem -
"Are you kidding me," you're probably saying. And I do not care! I grew up on this cassette. Carman was a very critical part of my childhood and I know he was a crucial part of many other's as well, though most just probably won't admit it."
3Relient K, Deck The Halls, Bruise Your Hand -
"I haven't actually heard all of Let It Snow, Baby... yet, so this will have to suffice. I have adored it since the very first time my ears beheld it."

wayne myatt
1Jars Of Clay, Christmas Songs / Kevin Max, Holy Night (Tie) -
"Christmas Songs reminds the listener of JOC's debut album, yet its style is very classical and contemporary at the same time. It's simply a beautiful experience from the opening musical to the last single. And I've always been a big fan of Kevin Max because he appears to be an artist that truly does what he feels that he should do with his music. The music on Holy Night is mostly traditional, however, the treasure found on this release is Kevin's incredible vocals."
2Rebecca St. James, Christmas / Happy Christmas Volume 4 (Tie) -
"A very unique sound that can only be with a Rebecca Christmas Project. Any fan of Rebecca St. James will instantly fall in love with her album as the sound is not much different than her previous projects. There's also just so much to like about Tooth & Nail's Happy Christmas 4: Anberlin, Mae, Relient K, Switchfoot, and Aaron Gillespie, just to name a few."
3various artists, Our Christmas -
"This album will always be a favorite of mine because there is so much different talent and it's all, mostly, a fantastic project."
4John Williams, Home Alone 2 Soundtrack -
"Christmas is just not the same without hearing the Home Alone 2 soundtrack. John Williams has brought so many themes that we cannot forget (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Superman, just to name a few). Also has one of the best Christmas Songs of all time, "Star of Bethlehem."
5Alan Silvestri and various, Polar Express Soundtrack -
"I know it's a recent soundtrack, however, it has many classic along with some great original classical music by Alan himself. In addition to the soundtrack, we have classics by Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, and Kate Smith."

JFH ornament Artists I Want To See A Christmas Project From: -
Anberlin, Sanctus Real, Newsboys, Mae, Tait, dc Talk (reunion!), and The Classic Crime

Ryan Barbee
1Relient K, Let It Snow, Baby... Let It Reindeer -
"If you want modern flair for the Holiday season, Relient K will fulfill your needs. This album will arise such a clatter of Christmas spirit, it will have you rockiní around the Christmas tree all night long!"
2Amy Grant, A Christmas To Remember -
"Iím mildly ashamed to admit this as one of my favorites. While normally Iím not a fan of music that remains within a three-key range, this one is sure to bring about some holiday cheer. And for that I say, ďMerry Christmas, Amy Grant!"
3Phil Wickham, Songs for Christmas -
"Itís one of the latest releases! Full of new interpretations of classics and a couple originals, it is sure to garner much holiday season play time."
4Ella Fitzgerald, Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas -
"Ella Fitzgerald was hands down one of the greatest vocalists of the 20th Century. With her free flowing voice and classy jazz club tone she made Christmas that much sweeter."
5Nat King Cole, The Magic Of Christmas -
"Nothing says Christmas like Nat King Cole. His smooth baritone vocals and reverence of Christmas classics makes this album not only a Christmas enhancer but a Christmas tradition."

Michael Weaver
1various artists, Happy Christmas -
"Hands down the best Christmas album of all time. Great traditional Christmas songs with a Christian rock flare; easily the best of the series."
2MxPx, Punk Rawk Christmas -
"Christmas. Punk rock. MxPx. Need I say more?"
3various artists, X Christmas -
"Excellent compilation album chock full of Christian rock Christmas tunes. 'Carol of the Bells' is ridiculously amazing."
4Elvis Presley, Elvis Christmas -
"It's just not Christmas without Elvis. Can't go wrong with "Blue Christmas"... EVER."
5Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Christmas Eve and Other Stories -
"Fun album by an extremely talented group of musicians. 'Christmas/Sarajevo 12/24' is epic."

Sam Schaumberg
1Family Force 5, Christmas Pageant / Relient K, Let It Snow Baby... Let It Reindeer (Tie) -
"Both artists do a great job of creating Christmas albums that are completely their own sound. Relient K gives a mixture of the humor and the seriousness of the season, while Family Force 5 makes Christmas sound like a massive party. The original songs on these albums are also some of my all-time favorites, specifically Relient K's 'I Celebrate The Day,' and FF5's 'The Baby.'"

2Amy Grant, Home For Christmas -
"Nearly every Christmas party I went to when I was younger had this album playing as background music. I am proud to admit that I can still perfectly execute the dance routine my friend and I made to Amy Grant's version of 'Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree.'"
3various artists, Happy Christmas, Vol. 4 -
"Volume 4 is definitely my favorite Happy Christmas installment. This is a great compilation from a variety of artists. Even though not every song was a new release, there were plenty standout contributions, specifically from Anberlin, Copeland, Eisley, Number One Gun, and Spoken."
4various artists, It's Christmas Time: Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole -
"This was the Christmas compilation that I grew up with. You can't go wrong with Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Nat King Cole all in one place. It can perfectly be described as driving-down-snowy-roads-looking-at-Christmas-lights music."

JFH ornament Artists I Want To See A Christmas Project From: -
Deas Vail, Needtobreathe, Spoken (I love their version of "Mary Did You Know"), House of Heroes (Their Christmas EP was gorgeous, so I'd love to hear more)

wayne myatt
1Avalon, Joy: A Christmas Collection -
"I always dig this one out every Christmas while we're putting up the tree. It's such a fun holiday record to listen to, and combines refreshing takes on old classics with beautiful originals. Even though this album turns ten years old this year, it's one of those albums that just never gets old. My personal favorites are the brassy, fifties' 'big band' arrangement of 'Winter Wonderland' and the gorgeous 'Light A Candle.'"
2Relient K, Let It Snow, Baby... Let It Reindeer -
"Relient K's album is always a favorite as well. It perfectly blends upbeat, fun, and often quirky arrangements ('Santa Claus Is Thumbing To Town;' hidden track 'Good King Wenceslas') with more mellow, serious ones ('Merry Christmas, Here's To Many More;' 'I Celebrate The Day'), and even a smattering of reflective, somber tunes ('Boxing Day;' 'I Hate Christmas Parties'). So whatever mood you're in this holiday season, there's surely something on here for you."
3Rebecca St. James, Christmas -
"Rebecca's approach to holiday tunes was quite a departure thirteen years ago. Her reinditions of more modern songs like 'Sweet Little Jesus Boy,' 'One Small Child,' and 'Happy Christmas' let the album keep a nostalgic '90s feel, while techno-fused takes on 'O Come, O Come Emmanuel' and 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring' are not too far away from today's popular music."
4Aly & AJ, Acoustic Hearts of Winter -
"For the most part, Acoustic Hearts of Winter lives up to its title. Eight of the eleven songs are done completely acoustic, which gives the album a lovely seasonal vibe, perfect for sitting by the fireplace with a steaming cup of hot cocoa. My personal favorite, however, is the introspective original 'Not This Year,' where the sisters tell about the first Christmas they spent without their grandmother. They weren't exactly in the typical upbeat Christmasy mood, of which people who have lost loved ones close to the holidays can surely easily relate."
5Christina Aguilera, My Kind of Christmas -
"This is one of my seasonal favorites because of the eclectic mix of styles. Of course there are the big ballads where her signature vocals really shine ('O Holy Night,' 'The Christmas Song'), but there are also fun, jazzy arrangements ('Angels We Have Heard on High,' 'Merry Christmas Baby'), and a few Y2K-style pop originals ('Christmas Time,' 'This Year'). Overall, it's a really fun album to put you in the Christmas spirit."

JFH ornament Artists I Want To See A Christmas Project From: -
Anberlin, Sanctus Real, Newsboys, Mae, Tait, dc Talk (reunion!), and The Classic Crime


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