First on my list is O Little Town of Bethlehem. I particularly recommend the version by JJ Heller (Unto Us). The love the line: 'The hopes and fears of all the years, Are met in thee tonight'.
Matthew Perryman Jones sings another of my favourite carols O Come O Come Emmanuel. I love the passion and intensity he brings to it. There's also something in his arrangement of the song being slowed down.
Another of my favourites is In The Bleak Midwinter, particularly the last verse, focusing on our response to the coming king.
What can I give Him, poor as I am?Here's a beautiful version by Christa Wells. (I also recommend the version by Jars of Clay)
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him... give my heart.
Speaking of Jars of Clay, their version of I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day (on Christmas Songs) is great. Particularly given the broken and divided in world in which we live.
The last verse highlights the answer from heaven that Peace will come and Christ will prevail:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:The next one is O Holy Night (Third Day, Christmas Offerings). One of my favourite lines is 'A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices', a subtle reminder of the significance of the coming King.
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men."
Now, onto Christmas songs. So, so many chose from. The three I will chose are Happy Christmas (War is Over); It's Christmas, Baby Please Come Home and I Believe in Father Christmas.
I love Sleeping at Last's cover of Lennon and Ono's Happy X'Mas (War is Over). It's a beautiful arrangement.
U2 have recorded both Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) and I Believe in Father Christmas. Christmas Baby Please Come Home is quite a fun song. I Believe in Father Christmas was originally written to protest the commercialisation of Christmas. I can only echo the sentiment here
'I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave new year
All anguish, pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear.'