This week I searched all over the internet for the best new Christmas music videos, and selected 12 of my favorites. In order to make it onto the list, the video had to be published in recent months. Although other music videos from 2014 (or earlier) are amazing – they did not fit the criteria. The list of videos below are my favorite (and not so favorite) new Christmas music videos from 2015. So, here they are — like the 12 Days of Christmas — ranked from 12th to 1st, with the number one (#1) music video being my favorite new Christmas video of the year.
12 – Joy to the World – Pentatonix
This new rendition of Joy to the World, recorded in an empty church, will probably upset a few traditionalists (“Why did they leave out verse 3 and why is his hair like that?”). However, with over 8.6 million views on YouTube in the past month, it’s clearly reaching a diverse crowd. “Joy to the World, the Savior reigns! Let men their songs employ; While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy…” Indeed, as the Gospel of Luke reminds us: …the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
One might expect that Pentatonix, the a capella group from Arlington, TX would be ranked number 1, however, this year’s new recording didn’t have the authentic energy and lyrical purity of earlier recordings like Little Drummer Boy (2013) , or Mary Did You Know (2014). The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.
11 – The First Noel – Bethel Music
Another rendition of Noel, recorded at Bethel Church in Redding, California. Noel is derived from the French word noël or nael meaning Christmas season or Christmas carol, related to the Latin word natalis, meaning birth. The video is captioned with the familiar words: “The First Noel, the Angels did say; Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay; In fields where they lay keeping their sheep…”
10 – A Christmas Alleluia
Chris Tomlin has four songs on the list – recorded live in a church full of people singing along. Alleluia, Christ the Savior of the world has come. This video also features the singing of Lauren Daigle and Leslie Jordan of All Sons and Daughters.
9 – Syrian Refugees – Peace on Earth
What list of Christmas songs for 2015 would be complete without this Casting Crowns rendition of Peace on Earth / I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day ? Set against the backdrop of bombs and barbwire in Syria — heart rending scenes with thousands of fleeing refugees — from the horrific civil war in Syria.
This Christmas carol is based on the 1863 American civil war poem by Longfellow. The lyrics describe the author’s despair, upon first hearing the Christmas bells: And in despair I bowed my head; “There is no peace on earth,” I said; “For hate is strong, And mocks the song of peace on earth, good-will to men!” — Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The Wrong shall fail,The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men.”
8 – Campfire Christmas – Rend Collective
The Rend Collective is described as a Northern Irish Christian experimental, folk-rock, worship band. The video provides over 28 minutes of their Campfire Christmas music, with a crackling fire to watch as you listen and sing along.
7 – Noel
Noel, Noel – Come and see what God has done. Noel, Noel – the story of amazing love, the light of the world… another great live recording from Chris Tomlin’s new Christmas album, featuring Lauren Daigle. A pure voice, loudly proclaiming the good news, with haunting piano and cello counter melodies.
6 – Adore
5 – Christmas is All in the Heart
If you like acoustic guitar, and skillful picking – you might love this Nashville style Christmas song by by Steven Curtis Chapman that mentions Charlie Brown — and reminds us that Christmas-time consumerism will not satisfy.
4 – Oh Holy Night – Hometown
3 – Born in Bethlehem
Born in Bethlehem – The distinctive manly voice of Third Day‘s Mac Powell, medieval guitar melody, and basic wood-box beat proclaim the greatest story ever told. It’s a new recording that captures the miracle of the incarnation — resonating with good news down through the ages.
2 – Mary Did You Know
Peter Hollens sings this a capella version of Mary Did You Know along with 5 other versions of himself. (A ‘miracle’ of modern videography.) This unique video recording gathered over 4.3 million views on YouTube since it was released on Dec. 8, 2015; along with over 22 million views on Facebook since Dec. 13.
1 – He Shall Reign Forevermore
He Shall Reign Forevermore – This song by Chris Tomlin begins with a borrowed phrase: In the bleak mid-winter and describes the groaning of all creation — frozen in darkness — waiting for the Messiah. Enthusiastic and joyful participation by everyone at the church on the night this was recorded increase the contagious crescendo building to the chorus … He shall reign forevermore, forevermore…
Background – Why Am I Doing This?
I’m not recommending that these songs replace any of the songs in your favorite hymnal. However, I’m in awe as I reflect on what God did in Bethlehem — when an army of angels interrupted the silent night to announce Christ’s birth to the shepherds. And I’m amazed at what our Heavenly Father continues to do to glorify His son — all throughout history.
Truly, the King of Glory laughs from his eternal throne as Google and Facebook help spread the good news of Jesus birth during this happy season.
Every year around Christmas time, I enjoy listening to (and singing along with) the many traditional Christmas songs. Some of my happiest childhood Christmas memories are when my family would turn off all the lights in the house (except for the colorful Christmas tree lights) and start singing together. After sipping eggnog and eating some mints, we would grab a pillow, lay down on the floor, and watch the glittering light show on the ceiling – while singing many familiar Christmas carols.
Decades later, my family began hosting a Christmas musical (‘the Musicale’) in “the upper room” of our home a few days after Christmas. Each year the children would prepare and perform various songs on piano, guitar, or string quartet. Many of these can be found in the Vos family’s private video archives. Ten years ago, in 2005, I wrote a new Christmas song, entitled Little Baby Boy – a ‘home music video’ – published on YouTube in 2012. This song was inspired by my son Daniel’s translation of St. Augustine’s Christmas sermons, and recorded by Josh, my son-in-law, and subliminally influenced by Mark Lowry and Buddy Green’s Mary, Did You Know?
People have been gathering to sing Christmas carols for hundreds of years. Some enjoy singing the traditional melodies, while others enjoy creating new songs.
When locals gather to sing Christmas carols at the Blue Ball Inn pub in Worrall, England, you won’t hear “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night” or “Deck the Halls.”
The melodies and words of their carols of choice have been handed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years and are unique to this part of the world.
“They came about in the early-18th and mid-18th century, and this was a time when music in church was very plain and unadorned,” said Professor Ian Russell, a scholar who has studied Worrall’s carols extensively. While the religious establishment “wanted medieval carols, Latin carols … some sort of purity,” many worshippers had other ideas.
As a result, villagers with no formal training wrote their own music and gathered outside the church, in homes and pubs to celebrate with song. They include “Mistletoe Bough,” “Cranbrook,” and “Behold, the Grace Appears.”
“The music was extraordinary,” Russell added. “The people who were doing it were shoemakers, tailors, blacksmiths. These were not pretty carols … oh no, these are full of guts, these are full of life and vigor.”
Almost – But Not Quite
Here’s a few more new music videos that almost made the list:
- Trans-Siberian Christmas A Cappella – by BYU Vocal Point
- Christmas to Believe In – by Matthew West
- Oh Holy Night – Hillsdale College Choir
- God With Us! Merry Christmas – by Dennis Jernigan
- Just Another Christmas – by Laura Story