Christmas is a time of friends and family and sharing with those we love. For those separated by distance, sharing across the Internet is a great way of connecting during the season. From Facebook to Twitter to Southern Gospel Social Networking sites, several southern fans, industry workers and part-time artists shared some of their Christmas music with SGM Radio.
A true Gaither fan, ‘Janet B’, says her favorites at Christmas are Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, Still The Greatest Story Ever Told, by the Vocal Band; One Wintry Night, by David Phelps; and the Our Daily Bread Christmas CDs. “I have several versions of ‘Mary, Did You Know’ and love them all,” says Janet. “Hard to beat Mark Lowry and the Gaither Vocal Band, but Michael English's version is sigh-worthy! Probably my favorite song right now is ‘One King’, from One Wintry Night. There's a song on Randy Travis' Christmas album called ‘Labor of Love’ that I heard several years ago and fell in love with. And it's not Christmas until I hear Perry Como singing ‘Ave Maria’!
‘Gospelady’, Elaine Harcourt, names her top Christmas CD’s: Talley, Ho, Ho, Ho - Kirk Talley; Merry Christmas with Ivan - Ivan Parker; and Christmas with Brian Free & Assurance. Chris Slaughter says, “The best Christmas album is A Christmas Song by Russ Taff”.
‘Sallyh’ tells us that the Vocal Band’s Still the Greatest Story is her favorite as well. She also mentions Sandi Patti’s ‘Bethlehem Morning’ on it and Gold City’s ‘That Little Baby’.”
Jeanette Chernow says her favorites include, “The Christmas Memories Album by Evie Karlsson. I think it is the most meaningful and lovely Christmas album there is. Sandi Patty is also amazing; her new Christmas album is a great gift to us all. I also like ‘Bethlehem Morning’.”
‘Annie’ mentions, “The new Ernie Haase and Signature Sound Christmas recording is great. My kids love it. ‘Still the Greatest Story’ is a favorite too.” Annie also adds David Phelps’ songs ‘One Wintry Night’ and ‘One King’ to her list. Her favorite version of ‘Mary Did You Know?’ is by the Gaither Vocal Band.
There seems to be a pattern among Gaither members, but Jim Burrill doesn’t have the Vocal Band in his list. “I am very partial to the Evie Karlsson Christmas album, ‘Come on Ring those Bells’. My favorite among the Homecoming friend's Christmas is Larry Ford singing ‘Oh Holy Night’. The Imperials Christmas album was something really special. I want to mention also Steve Green's Joy to the World CD. Among my collectible recordings, I have the Gaither Trio with ‘He Started The Whole World Singing’, which was released about 1979. It features Gary McSpadden along with Bill and Gloria, and Sandi Patty did some of the backup vocals on this album.” Also mentioned is Dino's Christmas album, and Michael W. Smith's ‘It's a Wonderful Christmas’. Jim says, “There's something special when a strong believer sings about Christmas.”
Dean Adkins, a fixture on many southern gospel message boards and social networking sites, is known to many as a historian and connoisseur of Southern Gospel. His top pick for Christmas music is: Blackwood Brothers and Statesmen Wish You A Merry Christmas.
Deborah Igo from SoGoCity, shared a memory from a Christmas past. “My all-time favorite song is, ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’. It just blesses me to think of all those angels singing at the birth of our savior Jesus Christ. We sang ‘O Holy Night’ in our Christmas program at Belfast Area high school in Belfast Maine in 1968. It sounded so beautiful. We all had tears in our eyes when we finished the song. My, how times have changed.”
Stephen Widener is a music minister and soloist and can also be found on SoGoCity. Stephen shares, “My favorite Christmas CD’s are Still the Greatest Story Ever Told by the Gaither Vocal Band and A Greater Vision Christmas. I saw Mark Lowry, Buddy Greene and Anthony Burger do a live version of ‘Mary, Did You Know?’ in Charlotte North Carolina once and it was unreal. ‘O Holy Night’ is another of my favorites. If you haven't heard Donna Beauvais of Hope’s Call sing it live, you need to. Donna was one of my favorite voice teachers at Steve Hurst School of Music and she is amazing. My favorite secular song is Nat King Cole's ‘Christmas Song’. We did a cut on a Christmas CD a couple of years ago to help Tim Greene with his medical expenses. The Greenes and Hoppers were on the CD also. We did a take on Beethoven's ‘Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee’. It was special.”
Finally, we went to the fans and industry people on Facebook. Allen Cox who used to sing tenor with the Florida Boys, shares, “I actually really like the Christmas album I did with the Florida Boys. I am very proud of that recording. I also love Jewel’s Christmas album from a few years ago. I love the old Christmas ballads sung by Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Doris Day, and Rosemary Clooney. I can’t pick just one favorite song!”
“My favorite album is actually not a southern gospel album,” says Mark Gibbs. “It's actually older than me. It's Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sister Christmas album. My sister and I used to put that album on at Christmas time and lip sync to it with combs as microphones! My favorite Christmas song is ‘Mary Did You Know’ by Mark Lowry and Buddy Green. Did the people who Jesus touched personally, in the flesh, know who and what they had right in front of them? It makes me wonder if I truly know who and what I have in my relationship with Jesus Christ. My favorite version of that song would have to be Michael English. He is such a huge natural talent voice wise and the feeling he puts into his music sets his above the rest.”
Sheri Thrower comments, “My favorite Christmas CD is by Mariah Carey. I love her song, ‘Jesus, What a Wonderful Child’." Steve Sam’s favorite is ‘That Little Baby’ by Mark Trammell and Gold City. Gary Allen says, “My yearly staple Christmas CDs are by Mannheim Steamroller; I love listening to all of them! ‘O Holy Night’ is my favorite song, either by Greater Vision or Donna Beauvais."
Rebekah Capps Downing, soprano with the New Day Spirituals, shares, “My favorite Christmas CD is an oldie. It is The Perry Sisters’ 'In The Still Of The Night'. I love their harmony; it is so smooth. My favorite song off the project is 'Light In The Window'. Larry Johnson says his two Christmas favorites are ‘Mary Did You Know” by the Gaither Vocal Band and ‘New Star Shining’ by Ricky Skaggs and James Taylor.
“I think my favorite CD overall is Celine Dion, These Are the Special Times,” says Kelly Burton, editor of SGN Scoops. “We always listen to it and Bing Crosby while putting up the tree. My favorite song on it is ‘O Holy Night’. Most amazing lyrics!
JT Raynor says, “Probably one of my favorite Christmas CDs is Jeff and Sheri Easter, ‘It feels like Christmas Again’. My favorite Christmas song is ‘I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day’, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I love it because it wraps up the whole theme of Christmas: Christ bringing peace and good will to all.” Singer David Waits loves the old-fashioned Christmas songs, traditional carols he grew up hearing and singing.
Ken Richwine shares, “I don't really have a favorite CD but I do like the Gaither Christmas Homecoming CD. There are several songs I like at Christmas time. Beyond the gospel songs, I like those that deal with family and home. Some of these are:
’I'll Be Home For Christmas’, ‘Walking In A Winter Wonderland’, ‘Over The River and Thru The Woods’, ‘I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas’ and many Christmas love songs. I also like ‘Mary Did You Know’, ‘Oh Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem’, ‘Away In A Manger’, ‘The Hallelujah Chorus’, ‘I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day’, ‘Joy To The World’, ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ and so many more. I love the warm feeling of Christmas and the time of renewed family bonding. I love the feeling of giving to others and most of all the joy and thanks for our Savior’s birth.”
Singer Karen Akemon shares, “I could mention so many Christmas songs, but there is one that really stands out to me because of the message. It's called ‘The Messiah's Coming’ and was one that was recorded when I was with The Perry Sisters, on the Christmas CD entitled The Still of The Night. Diana Gillette wrote the song, and I love it. It's the birth of Christ from Mary's perspective and how she must have felt, bearing the shame, for us to know His precious name. Beautiful song. It's so hard to narrow it down to one, but that song stops me in my tracks every Christmas, and gives me an even greater love and appreciation for the reason we celebrate the miracle of Christ's birth.”
We trust you’ve been reminded of some your favorite Christmas songs and perhaps suggested some new music for you to put on your wish list this Christmas. Fill your world with songs of Jesus this Christmas and remember to connect with loved ones near and far.
Written by Lorraine Walker. First published December 2009 on http://www.sgmradio.com
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