A Playlist for Christmas

A Playlist for Christmas

Another holiday season is upon us, and with that comes a wealth of season-appropriate music. (Some good and some not so good. Here’s looking at you, Bob Dylan, and your Christmas album. Yikes.) The sacred realm, in particular, contains an absolute treasure trove of works that honor and celebrate the birth of Jesus. So much of this music has played an indispensable role in my life, and the season is not complete until I’ve given at least one listen to John Adams’s El Niño and Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, to name just two pieces.

To celebrate this time of year, me and my good friend/fellow music nerd, Geoff Nelson, have culled together a playlist that journeys through the story of Christmas, beginning with the longings of Advent and ending with hope for the new year. As with our Holy Week playlist this past March, our selections encompass a broad spectrum of styles and sounds, often wandering between them in unique and surprising ways. (Who knew that Palestrina and The Oh Hellos actually work really well together?) The playlist can also be approached in different ways. Since it is 31 tracks long, it can either be used as a sort of musical “Advent calendar” (i.e., listening to one track each day throughout the 31 days of December), or it can be consumed in a single sitting.

No matter how you approach it—and no matter your faith background—we sincerely hope that our musical selections will inspire reflection, hope, and joy as the world celebrates this holiday season.

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Jessica Meyer: “Ring Out, Wild Bells”

I realize that my blog has been a bit quiet lately. Grad school work has amped up these past few weeks, so I haven’t had time to write a full-on post, but I do have a few ideas in the pipeline for the coming weeks, once things settle down. Stay tuned…

In the meantime, to usher in the holiday season and the approaching new year, here is a stunning setting of fragments from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “Ring Out, Wild Bells,” composed by Jessica Meyer. It’s performed here by the vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth in an abandoned water tank in Colorado, which has been converted into a performance space/recording studio. Enjoy!