The Thrill of Hope
Keepers Branch Records
For the first time plying her powerhouse vocals to a Christmas recording, Christy Nockels takes listeners and worshipers through the incarnation story, from expectation and waiting (advent) through the miracle of the birth and into the declaration of his Kingship. And all of it is the Thrill of Hope. The vocal prowess steals the musical show on this Christmas release, but the subtle production with an acoustic bent and the well-placed holiday flourishes help make this one to treasure for years to come.
Top song for your Christmas set: “Song in the Air”
These Christmas Lights
Largely piano-driven Christmas music with plenty of lush tones surrounding it all, Redman does a wonderful job of interpreting the well-known anthems of Christmas into fresh arrangements and powerful new prayers. As well he adds new songs to the mix to offer worship leaders a new set of music to use during the Advent and Christmas season. Featuring collaborations with longtime friends Natasha Bedingfield, Chris Tomlin, and Tasha Cobbs, this is a release not to miss.
Top song for your Christmas set:“Glory to You in the Highest (O Come Let Us Adore)”
Behold: A Christmas Collection
Featuring soft creole jazz renditions of Christmas favorites, Daigle brings her inimitable voice to the most fun Christmas release of the year, Behold. The co-writers of Daigle’s award winning song “How Can It Be,” Jason Ingram and Paul Mabury, wrote the one original song on Behold—“Light of the World,” which is a haunting and celebratory song of quiet praise. Get this full release as a go-to for your parties and present-wrapping time.
Top song for your Christmas set: “Light of the World”
Stone Table Records
Delicate and nuanced instrumentation highlight JJ Heller’s sweet yet soulful voice in this collection of mostly perennial favorites. Highlights include the original song “Christmas Is Here,” with its nostalgic and biblical images of the season swelling with a thematic echo and musical motif of “O Come Let Us Adore Him,” as well as the fresh take on “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring/Silent Night” with an angelic feel and musical reverence.
Top song for your Christmas set: “Unto Us”[divider]
Majesty in a Manger
Featuring artists/writers Paul Baloche, Darlene Zschech, All Sons & Daughters, Travis Ryan, Michael Farren, Seth & Nirva, Christine D’Clario, Michael Neale, Greg Sykes and more, Majesty in a Manger is a diverse family collaboration that helps focus our hearts on the center of the Christmas story. Overall the musical feeling is an acoustic affair and the prayers are mostly directed toward the Father as worship prayers, making it a must-have for worship leaders.
Top song for your Christmas set: “Come to Save Us”
Jenny & Tyler
Warmth and a cool-jazzy calm is the sonic palette of this charming seasonal release from husband and wife duo Jenny & Tyler. Christmas Stories features eight Christmas classics and one original, with the highlight being a reintroduction of the classic British hymn “The Maker of the Sun and Moon.”
Top song for your Christmas set: “The Maker of the Sun and Moon”[divider]
Millions still need to hear “Tennessee Christmas” the day after Thanksgiving in order to feel like the season has finally arrived. And Amy Grant offers it again, with a new recording and bridge, on this her first new Christmas album in nearly 20 years. Following in line with her other Yuletide offerings, Grant’s album focuses on family, love, and hope and this time adds a bit of sadness to make everything feel a little more authentic.
Top song for your Christmas set: “Melancholy Christmas” a special music option to shine a light on the difficult sadness many feel during the Christmas season.
Unto Us: A Christmas Collection
The second full-length studio holiday album from Matthew West is beautifully crafted with a high production value and a couple of new songs for you to explore. West mixes his folk-country, acoustic-guitar style with piano-driven nativity ballads and a pleasantly joyful feel to make a perfect fit for another Christmas album for your personal listening.
Top song for your Christmas set: “Unto Us”