Christmas CDs

I've carried out a comprehensive search of Amazon's extensive library and found some beautiful, even awe inspiring Christmas music performed by some of the best choirs and singers you could ever find. There's pop music too, including many of your old favourites. It's taken me a long time to save you a lot of effort. So, if you want to find the right background, or even foreground music for your own particular Christmas, you need to go no further.  You can check out my recommended selection of Classical Christmas Music and Popular Christmas Music or take the following links to Amazon's total collection of Classical Christmas Music and Popular Christmas Music. You can also get up to date with the current classical best sellers at Amazon Hot 100 classical CDs or access Amazon's total stock of CDs and search by any title or Artiste.

Recommendations & Reviews

Classical Christmas Music

 

" John Rutter - The Christmas Album" by Clare College Choir. Decca Records. 

I discovered this wonderful recording in 2000. It's really special. The whole programme is a delight, a truly elevating experience. It is my idea of the perfect Christmas record. How could it be otherwise with most of the musical arrangements by John Rutter, one of the great names of English choral music. Perfect! Do yourself a favour and buy it immediately.

 


"Sir Christèmus" by Ex Cathedra. Conducted by Jeff Skidmore. Price 

 For many decades, people have been flocking to the beautiful 18th century church of St. Paul, set in the heart of Birmingham, England, for Ex Cathedra's unique Christmas Music by Candlelight. Much of its appeal lies in the mixture of familiar favourites with the new and unexpected. Not all are carols in the traditional sense, but every piece of music chosen reflects the spirit and meaning of Christmas. The message of peace and goodwill that the angels brought to the shepherds is a theme that runs through every Ex Cathedra Candlelight Concert and that sentiment prevails throughout this recording. It is a lovely CD to have around at Christmas, either for your own personal carol concert or background music to enhance the spirit of the festive season.
This is a wonderful choir. I should know because the musical director is a friend of mine. In fact I just bought tickets for this years carols by candlelight. Al'

 

Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien

The complete hardback collection of Tolkien's famous illustrated Father Christmas letters to his children, packaged together with an unabridged multi-voiced double CD with music. Every December an envelope bearing a stamp from the North Pole would arrive for J.R.R.Tolkien's children. Inside would be a letter in strange spidery handwriting and a beautiful coloured drawing or some sketches. The letters were from Father Christmas. They told wonderful tales of life at the North Pole: how all the reindeer got loose and scattered presents all over the place; how the accident-prone Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas's house into the dining-room; how he broke the Moon into four pieces and made the Man in it fall into the back garden; how there were wars with the troublesome horde of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house! Sometimes the Polar Bear would scrawl a note, and sometimes Ilbereth the Elf would write in his elegant flowing script, adding yet more life and humour to the stories. No reader, young or old, can fail to be charmed by the inventiveness and 'authenticity' of Tolkien's "Letters from Father Christmas".

"Christmas Star"  The Cambridge Singers & Orchestra with John Rutter.  

Once again, John Rutter works his choral magic with the Cambridge Singers and turns out another extraordinary collection of Christmas carols. All the popular ones are here, the only down side being that there are no carols composed by Rutter himself. There is one bonus, in effect, hearing the Rutter choral treatment applied to The Christmas Song by Mel Torme and Robert Wells. It's never sounded better. Reviewer: Daniel G Berk, Bloomfield, Michigan.


"A Classic Christmas"  Clare College Singers, Halle Orchestra, London Philharmonic, et al. 

I have tried to buy this again for two years and I am thrilled it has been re-released. The CD is filled with many classical tunes that featured as THE Christmas TV tunes in my childhood and teens e.g. the Timex advert. Great tunes combined with good artists and best of all, not what you hear playing in all the supermarkets! A truely "Classey" classic that I would recommend to anyone who likes good music.


"Sing We Christmas"   Chanticleer.  

I simply don't have the words to describe the sublimity of this CD. Breathtaking? Sublime? I'm not sure the right words have been invented for it. It was my first Chanticleer CD, recommended by a music club, and it certainly hasn't been my last, but it's still my favorite. I love it so much that I listen to it year-round--even in the heat of summer, when I put on this CD, it's Christmastime to me by the end of "Es ist ein Ros".
The voices are simply amazing. It sounds like angels singing. I think part of the haunting, resounding sound that sets this CD apart from other choral CDs (and even from other Chanticleer ones) is that it was recorded in a cathedral, so the acoustics are amazing . I don't know all that much about music theory, so I'm sure my words seem amateurish and maybe a little silly, but this is a truly glorious CD. Reviewer Amy Keene, Springfield MO.

 

"The Best Carols Album in the World ..... Ever"  Various Artists  

If you love Christmas carols, you will find this to be a real treasure trove. This double-CD is compiled from various Christmas albums recorded by English choirs. Between them, they seem to have included every famous carol and a lot of obscure ones.  The seven choirs are the choir of King's college (Cambridge), the Bach Choir (London), the Clare College singers (Cambridge), the Temple Church choir (London), the Taverners choir, the Midieval Baebes and the Huddersfield choral society. 
If you enjoy Christmas carols, I doubt if you'll find a better collection anywhere.
Reviewer: Peter D. Harris, UK.

 

"Carols from Kings"  King's College Choir.  

Here's another outstanding Christmas album from this wonderful choir, containing many old favourites and some you may find less familiar; as the following programme will reveal:
1. On Christmas night
2. And all in the morning
3. Tomorrow shall be my dancing day
4. Three kings
5. Cherry Tree carol
6. All my heart this night rejoices
7. Silent night
8. Hail blessed virgin Mary
9. It came upon a midnight clear
10. Ding dong merrily on high
11. I saw a maiden
12. In the bleak mid Winter
13. Mary walked through a wood of thorn
14. Lord at first
15. Child is born in Bethlehem
16. Babe is born
17. I wys a
18. Psallite unigenito
19. While shepherds watched their flocks by night


 

"The Cambridge Singers' Christmas Album"  The Cambridge Singers with John Rutter  

Christmas albums don't get much better than this, with the likes of John Rutter, The London Symphonia and The Cambridge Singers. It is a beautiful programme containing a wide range of joyful and stimulating music, which will especially appeal to those who wish to go beyond the usual fare of Christmas 'old favourites'.

1. The Holly and the Ivy (arr. H. Walford Davies)*
2. Blessed be that maid Mary (arr. David Willcocks)
3. Somerset Wassail (arr. John Rutter)
4. Shepherds, in the fields abiding (French, arr. Willcocks)*
5. The Infant King (Basque, arr. Willcocks)
6. What is this lovely fragrance? (French, arr. Healey Willan)
7. Gabriel's message (Basque, arr. Willcocks)*
8. Still, still, still (German, arr. Rutter)
9. Quittez, pasteurs (French, arr. Rutter)
10. Un flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle (French, arr. Rutter)
11. Personent hodie (German, arr. Rutter)
12. The shepherds' farewell (Hector Berlioz)


13. O holy night (Adolphe Adam)
14. O magnum mysterium (T. L. de Victoria)
15. Hodie Christus natus est (J. P. Sweelinck)
16. For unto us a child is born (G. F. Handel)
17. In dulci jubilo (Samuel Scheidt)
18. Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child (Kenneth Leighton)*
19. A New Year Carol (Benjamin Britten)
20. Balulalow (Peter Warlock)
21. I saw a fair maiden (Peter Warlock)
22. The Lamb (John Tavener)
23. Fantasia on Christmas Carols (Ralph Vaughan Williams)

 

 

 

"The Mystery of Christmas"  The Elora Festival Singers.  

This choir is based in the village where I used to live and where I was married. The songs are not traditional "FA-la-la-la", "Jingle Bells" fare, giving a spark of variety to Christmas music. This choir has a wonderful reputation and recently was named the principal choir for the Toronto Mendolsohn choir. A great addition to any choral music (or Christmas music) lover's collection. Reviewer: A music fan from Nova Scotia.

 

 

 

"Kings College Christmas Carols" by Kings College Choir. Disky Records. 

There are two things we do almost every Christmas Eve. In the afternoon we listen to a Service of Lessons and Carols on the radio and in the evening we go to the Midnight Service at our little country church. The lessons and carols are always performed by King's College Choir, Cambridge, who are, and it seems they always have been, one of the finest choirs in England. This is a very beautiful and moving service that for most people is their first real injection of the true spirit of Christmas. You would be hard pressed can buy a better performance of Christmas carols than this.

 

"Carols From Kings" conducted by Sir David Wilcocks & Sir Philip Leger. 

Settle down in a comfy chair with a mince pie and glass of wine and turn up the volume - pure escapism from the hassles of Christmas shopping! The collection mixes traditional carols (so you can sing along and relive those days in the choir) with slightly lesser known Christmas fare.
As you would expect of King's, all the carols are extremely well executed and with over 76 minutes of playing time you've got the chance to pig out on a good few mince pies. Bliss!   Reviewer: Claire from Liverpool.

 

Bach's "Magnificat" by King's College Choir with the Academy of Ancient Music. (Double Album) EMI Classics. 

In 1722 J.S. Bach became Kantor of the Thomasschule in Leipzig, with responsibility for the music at the city's four churches. For his first Christmas in his new role he composed an this elaborate setting of the Magnificat.
The festive scene is immediately set by the opening chorus, which is magnificently scored for five-part choir, flutes, oboes, trumpets, drums and strings. This work is but one of many wonderful examples of Bach's genius in this exceptional double album.
Sitting by an open fire, amidst your Christmas decorations, with Bach's "Magnificat" playing in the background is sure to elevate your spirit to new heights.

 

 

"Carols For Christmas" by Westminster Cathedral Choir. Audio CV. 

Another of England's wonderful cathedral choirs is at Westminster Cathedral, where such events as royal weddings and coronations take place. I particularly like this one because it features Simon Preston who is one of best cathedral organists in the business.

 

"Classic FM Christmas Carols"  by The Choir of  Trinity College, Cambridge 

Just about all of the seasonal favourites are here on a disc of carols that exudes a decidedly Christmassy glow. What makes this one stand out from the crowd of festive offerings is the standard of the performances from the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, which sings with a superb sense of ensemble, perfect tuning and crystal clear diction under Richard Marlow. The solo treble who begins "The Holly and the Ivy" gently eases the listener in to the 80-minute-long programme. Marlow takes an almost devotional approach to some carols (notably "Away in a Manger" and "While Shepherds Watched"). The account of "God rest ye merry, gentlemen" is warm and affectionate, traits that could be said to characterise the disc as a whole. The various arrangements by David Willcocks are as familiar and welcoming as an old pair of slippers: one never tires of their imagination and finesse. A disc of traditional Yuletide offerings, this disc is admirably recorded and performed with real affection by one this country's top choirs. --Colin Clarke

 

"Classic Christmas"  Various Artistes  

I have tried to buy this again for two years and I am thrilled it has been re-released. The CD is filled with many classical tunes that featured as THE Christmas TV tunes in my childhood and teens e.g. the Timex advert. Great tunes combined with good artists and best of all, not what you hear playing in all the supermarkets! A truely "Classey" classic that I would recommend to anyone who likes good music.  Reviewed by a music fan from Liverpool.

 

"Noel - Christmas at King's"  King's College Choir, Cambridge  

This is a beautiful recording, performed with real affection by one of the country's very top choirs. There are some wonderful choirs in Great Britain, but it is probably King's College in Cambridge that sets the standard for musical excellence. For many people in the UK Christmas doesn't really start until they hear the service of lessons and carols from King's on the radio. (You will find further information about King's College within the reviews of their other recordings contained in this section.)

 



Popular Christmas Music

 

"And Winter Came"   Enya
When I first heard this CD it was as background music played by my wife from another room. It didn't sound very promising at first and possibly a bit 'samey', but very soon I found myself wanting to get it into my foreground. In no time at all Enya's  tranquillity had enveloped me and I found myself not only listening to the music and lyrics intently but also feeling pleasantly transported to a state of Christmas calm that I don't experience very often. I have never previously  heard music that creates such a delightful and mystical Winter atmosphere as this album. My grand daughter's particular favourite is "White Is The Winter Night" (Al')

I must state that I love Enya. I am a forty year old stressed mother of three boys and find her music wonderfully soothing. I love Christmas, too. I bought this on the first day it came out and now feel ready for Christmas. I can see myself baking my mince pies with this on in the background and I can't wait! I am a Christian and find some of the lyrics magical. In the mad rush of Christmas, this is the music to play for a break. If you don't like Enya or don't like Christmas, don't buy it!! (Julia Gemstone - Merseyside, UK)

 

"Christmastime"    The Swingle Singers 

If it's music, the Swingle Singers can sing it! This seems an extravagant claim, unless you've heard the Swingle Singers in concert. These eight talented vocalists move effortlessly from organ fugues to orchestral overtures, from big band favourites to piano pieces all sung without accompaniment, as well as performing original arrangements of pop classics and folk tunes. This recording contains many familiar Christmas tunes and carols but also many you may be hearing for the first time, all in the utterly unique style of these remarkable singers. Enjoy!


"The Best Christmas Album In The World Ever" - Various Artistes. Virgin Records. 

I'm sure you've seen lot's of compilation records that claim to be 'absolutely the very best album in the entire universe' on whatever topic or emotion they are addressing, usually love, and turn out to be okay, but not fantastic. Well, we've had this double-album for three years and it is undoubtedly the very best ever, with all best Christmas pop music from some of the greatest performers, including John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Slade, Wizzard, Elton John, Chris Rea, Jackson 5, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Pretenders, Chris De Burgh, The Beach Boys, Band Aid, et al.   

 

"Elvis' Christmas Album"  Elvis Presley  

It may seem weird to call a seasonal album "essential," but along with Phil Spector's 'Christmas Gift for You' this is arguably the finest rock & roll Christmas album of all time. Recorded in 1957 at the height of his artistry--when he truly could be called the King of Rock & Roll--this album demonstrates Presley having a lot of vocal fun with a variety of styles, whether it's a carol ("Silent Night") or pop standard (Gene Autry's "Here Comes Santa Claus"). He does one of the greatest versions of "White Christmas" ever recorded, basically using the Drifters' version as a blueprint--and then singing all the parts himself. His "I'll Be Home for Christmas" is definitive--but the best moments are the "new" tracks written specifically for this release, including the classic "Blue Christmas," Lieber & Stoller's "Santa Claus Is Back in Town" (one of the most sexually suggestive holiday tunes ever), and the wonderful, pop-based "Santa, Bring My Baby Back to Me." All these tracks are available on the 'King of Rock and Roll' box set--but if you don't own that, this belongs under any Christmas tree--though Elvis fans have been known to listen to tracks from this in the middle of July! --Bill Holdship

 

"Merry Christmas from Motown"  Various Artists  

One of my favorite Christmas CDs. I got the two album set over 20 years ago. Now they've added a Marvin Gaye bonus track. Too bad they didn't include his up-tempo "Purple Snowflakes" as well.

What I like best about this CD is its variety of musical styles. Stevie Wonder shines on a couple of originals that are now Christmas standards: the thought provoking Someday At Christmas and the festive What Christmas Means To Me. Everyone's favorite Jehovah's Witnesses, The Jackson 5, (who didn't celebrate Christmas but apparently recorded whatever Motown asked them to) add youthful exhuberance with Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Frosty The Snowman, and I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. The Temptations show off their versatility, their tracks among the strongest cuts, be they fun (Rudolph) or poignant (My Christmas Tree, Silent Night). The Supremes' stuff is okay. Their best Christmas tune, the haunting Born Of Mary, isn't on this set. Their take on The Children's Song though will have you ding-donging for days. BY the way: all the kids mentioned in this song belong to Diana's main squeeze at the time, Berry Gordy. Reviewer: James E. Bagley, PA.

 

"Christmas Song"  by Nat King Cole  

Christmas was not Christmas in my home without the Nat King Cole vinyl playing on our old record player. When that stopped working, we bought the CD version because we missed the sound of his smooth voice singing warm, heartfelt traditional Christmas tunes. His version of "The Christmas Song" is THE classic while remakes have yet to come close. The rest of the album is up to par with "The Christmas Song" and some songs even better depending on your taste. It is not flashy, overdone with loud choirs or unnecessary production. It is just right and you will not regret adding it to your annual rotation. On the other hand, who says you have to wait until Christmas? Reviewer: Kandy from Home of the Lost World!

 

"A Smooth Jazz Christmas"  by Dave Kaz and Friends  

Dave Koz's blend of jazz and new age easily finds a home in holiday music. His holiday album " A Smooth Jazz Christmas" is an interesting mix of Koz's musical gifts and flair. Koz includes many Christmas standards, as well as some lesser known pieces and some original works. The opening "Smooth Jazz Christmas Overture" is a medley of Christmas favorites that gets a person in the holiday spirit. Brenda Russell joins Koz for an updated version of the Patti Page classic "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus." Kenny Loggins adds his vocal talents in the beautiful and refelctive "December Makes Me Feel This Way," a song which celebrates the magic of this time of year. "Eight Candles" is an upbeat musical piece paying tribute to Hanukah. This is a worthy addition to any Christmas collection. Reviewer: Timothy Kearney, Roslindale, MA.

 

"The Christmas Jazz Album"  Various Artists  

Compilations on non-musical themes might seem like oddities in a world full of collections by artist and idiom, but they have the advantage of throwing up some unusual juxtapositions. As well as warming the seasonal cockles, The Christmas Jazz Album is a little catalogue of jazz style, bringing together mellifluous, fireside jazz in Tony Bennett's "Chestnuts Roasting", smooth jazz in Grover Washington's "Merry Little Christmas", lush vocal harmony in the Manhattans' "Santa Claus", sprightly solo stride piano in Marcus Roberts's "Winter Wonderland" and Christmassy jazz baroque in Grover's "Jesu". Anyone with a weakness for the Christmas spirit ought to find themselves glowing with rosy benevolence after a few minutes in this company. Meanwhile, the resolutely grumpy jazzer who can't wait for it all to end should find happy refuge in the such timeless jazz making as Wynton Marsalis's big band reading of "Let It Snow!" and Terence Blanchard's cool, Milesian treatment of "Christmas Time Is Here". --Mark Gilbert

 

"All Time Greatest Christmas Album" (Double CD)  Various Artists  

This is a very uplifting Christmas compilation, typical in some ways from many of the British double CD's of Christmas music, yet distinct from them. You could buy any of the more hit-laden collections as well as this because there won't be much duplication.

There are some big UK hits here, including All I want for Christmas is you (Mariah Carey), Last Christmas (Wham), Power of love (Frankie goes to Hollywood), Stop the cavalry (Jona Lewie) and Merry Christmas everyone (Shaking Stevens). Another big hit, It's gonna be a cold cold Christmas (Dana) rarely finds its way on to these compilations and it's great to find it included. Other important tracks include I met an angel on Christmas day (Celine Dion), Ay ay ay it's Christmas (Ricky Martin), Love on Layaway (Gloria Estefan), This is the time (Michael Bolton and Wynonna), When my heart finds Christmas (Harry Connick Jr), I don't need anything this Christmas (Shawn Colvin) and This is Christmas (Luther Vandross). Elsewhere, there are plenty of traditional Christmas classics by a variety of singers. However, my favorites among the many superb tracks here are Secret of Christmas (Julie Andrews) and the two Cyndi Lauper tracks (Feels like Christmas, Early Christmas morning).

 

"A Christmas Gift To You From Phil Spector" - Various Motown Artistes 
(Original recording re-mastered)   

This lavish holiday set has been called the greatest rock & roll Christmas album of all time. That's an opinion that's tough to argue with when you find yourself immersed in the massive sounds painstakingly crafted by legendary producer Phil Spector. His "wall-of-sound" technique is perfectly suited to the music of the season, as he proves with layer upon layer of piano, sleigh bells, buoyant percussion and, of course, those legendary Spector sound harmonies. The Crystals turn their sassy interplay into sheer magic on "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town", The Ronettes stroll sweetly through numbers like "Sleigh Ride" and Darlene Love delivers a real knockout punch with her yearning version of "Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)". Sure to become the soundtrack for your holidays. --David Sprague

 

"The Christmas Album"  Various Artistes  

It seems as if every year brings another dubious Christmas album or 10--but every once in a while, a good song pops through. At first glance, it seems as if "The Christmas Album" might be another in the unfortunate tradition, but this collection is actually something else entirely: a collection of those occasional good songs. At 43 tunes strong, with everybody from Wham! to the Wombles, Elton John to Eartha Kitt, and the Backstreet Boys to the Jackson 5 (to Steps), there are few holes; and while "The Christmas Album" might only rarely get into a consistent groove, there are so many familiar tunes that it hardly matters. Besides, where else are you going to hear Mariah Carey and Neil Diamond back-to-back--or even on the same disc as Robson and Jerome? --Randy Silver

"Christmas Hits"  Various Artistes  

This Christmas album has everything you could want from the classic songs like White Christmas by Bing Crosby to Westlife's 1999 Christmas no.1 I Have A Dream. As it says on the back of the album, this has definately got 50 festive favourites on it. My favourite being Eartha Kitt's Santa Baby. I bought this album when it first came out as I didn't have any Christmas albums with popular hits on it and I love it. Definately an album to be played every Christmas!  (Reviewer: A music fan from Taunton in Somerset.)

 

"A Tweenies Christmas"  by The Tweenies  

"A Tweenies Christmas" comes hot on the heels of their sell-out stadium tours, the success of their debut album "Friends Forever" and the continued success of their TV show. Filled equally with new compositions and cover versions of favourite festive tunes (there's seven of each on the album), this is the ideal collection for getting children (and parents) into the Christmas party mood. Opener "I Believe in Christmas" is a swinging, pop number in the style of S Club 7s "Reach" but with added sleigh bells. If it wasn't for the baby-speak Tweenie vocals, it would be difficult to differentiate between this track and Rachel and Co "doing their thing". Another new tune "Light Up the World" is a warm, feel-good song set on Christmas Eve, while "Fab-A-Rooney Christmas" is the Tweenies jovial Christmas anthem. At times though the toddler-talk (or singing) does complement the song, for instance Milo's nasal rendition of "Merry Xmas Everybody" almost resembles Noddy Holder's blaring vocals on the Slade original. --John Galilee

Young children love the Tweenies with their  high activity, music filled TV shows. They are so colorful and lively and the characters so personable that I never complain when I'm asked to watch the show with the kids. They make great videos too, which are available through the Christmas Videos section, which you can access via this link.  Al'

 

 

"Gospel Christmas" - Various Artistes. Audio CD. 

I haven't listened to the following recordings ourselves, but their musical credentials are immaculate.

 



"Christmas Carols" by the Choir of York Minster. Conductor Jackson. Audio CD. 

 

 

 

 



"Christmas Day in the Morning" by the Cambridge Singers and the City of London Sinfonia. Conducted by John Rutter. Collegium Records. 

 

 

 

 



"Ancient Music of Christmas" by Ethan James. Audio CD. 

 

 

 

 

 

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