- A short mix of songs both modern and ancient that serve well to express worship in the Advent and Christmas season.
Rather than sharing our favorite renditions of traditional carols that have been revamped by current artists, we’d like to share our favorite worship songs that work well for Christmas, which may or may not be traditional Christmas songs, and may or may not be new to our church worship vocabulary. Most are songs that people engage with strongly throughout the entire month of December as the Advent season, and some are songs that work particularly well for the church to connect with the beauty of the Nativity on Christmas Eve or Christmas weekend.
“O Come O Come Emmanuel” brings an old world cry for God’s presence into a new world still waiting for the return of our King Jesus, and helps set the stage of our hearts during the advent season. Originally penned sometime in the 8th or 9th century, we have the 1861 translation by John Mason Neale to thank for bringing this song into the modern era, and it remains a steadfast tradition of advent, longingly heralding our need for the Savior.
“Noel” by Lauren Daigle is a soft & simple yet powerful invitation for people to consider the beauty of Jesus coming to us to rescue and raise us with Him, and serves as a primer for our hearts to enter the wonder of the season.
“O Come All Ye Faithful” invites us to join in with the angelic host in adoring the presence of the Lord, its verses transcending the season of Christmas to take us right to the throne room worship of Revelation. It medleys strongly with modern songs such as “This Is Amazing Grace” and “Great Things” by Phil Wickham, and lifts hearts toward God whether delivered as an upbeat opener or a soft acapella chorale.
“Shout For Joy” by Paul Baloche & Lincoln Brewster works well in all seasons, whether preparing for Christmas or Holy Week, and also medleys well with some traditional carols such as “Joy To The World”. Speaking of which…
“Joy To The World” was written in 1719 by Isaac Watts and is by far the most published, most sung, most well known Christmas song in the world. Take advantage of this fact and include it in your Christmas worship!
“God With Us” by Bryan & Katie Torwalt combines the horizontal elements of a modern hymn with its simple melody and descriptions of the attributes of God seen in Jesus, and the vertical worship elements of a spiritual song of adoration directed straight to God from our hearts.
“Angels We Have Heard On High” came to the church in the mid 1800s and is renowned as one of the most uplifting songs of the season with its Gloria in excelsis Deo chorus. Limitless in possibilities as far as lending itself to different styles, we encourage you to check out Chris Tomlin’s upbeat version, Awaken Worship’s folksy approach, as well as renditions in just about every music genre possible. It’s a great song to make your own with your own style.
“King of Kings” by Geoff Bullock (made famous by Hillsong) is another incredible modern hymn that takes us from the Nativity to the Throne Room of heaven. Its first verse becomes especially poignant during Advent.
“Hark The Herald Angels Sing” is another traditional that lends well to reimagining in a wide variety of styles, whether island style ukulele, soul, R&B, or Lincoln Brewster’s sizzling rock guitar rendition.
“Adore” by Graham Kendrick & Martin Chalk (made popular by Chris Tomlin) takes us to humble serene devotion expressed through sweet lullaby, set in the manger scene at the foot of the newborn Savior of the world.
“The First Noel” has been recreated as many times as any other Christmas song, and whether you keep it as a simple prelude before service or turn it into a massively upbeat rock anthem, it’s a great one to keep in your church’s repertoire.
“Way Maker” by Sinach (Osinachi Kalu Okoro Egbu) has been a heart song for many of us struggling through the pandemic and other life challenges, and the lyrics work well for all seasons of the year, including Advent and Christmas, expressing hope filled worship in the season of hope!
“It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” shouldn’t be neglected or too quickly relegated to the back of the list, and as with many traditional carols can be easily rearranged into a genre or mood to fit whatever vibe your church has, proclaiming the coming of Jesus as a mournful song of coming solace, or a joyful refrain of celebration.
“What A Beautiful Name” by Ben Fielding & Brooke Ligertwood is itself a breakaway delight in its simplicity, serving to reveal the heart of the Father in the gift of Jesus through scripture ranging from the Prophets to the Gospels to the Revelation. Try out Mark Cole’s additional Christmas lyrics with this song for a special touch this season.
“O Holy Night” and “Silent Night”
Holy. The word means set apart for a purpose, and these songs fit the definition perfectly. Sometimes the best is indeed worth saving for last, and these songs strike a chord in our hearts in an intimately passionate way deserving of being set apart for the specific purpose of creating an awe inspired spirit of reflection and adoration, reserved for Jesus on the night He came to be God With Us.
Fall on your knees. Join the angel voices in worship. We can’t think of any better way to celebrate, honor, engage with and respond to the Spirit of the Living God at the crescendo of this Christmas season.
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