I have a mad love for Christmas carols. Even so, I find that some are egregiously overplayed. By December 3rd, I have already heard “Sleigh Ride” often enough to last me comfortably through the rest of the month. So I have a fondness for the slightly more obscure Christmas carols, the ones that you don’t hear piped into malls and on the radiowaves.
Such as the Wexford Carol, an Irish carol of extraordinary beauty. Here it is, sung by Alison Krauss with accompaniment by Yo-Yo Ma.
Another lovely carol is the Basque carol called “Gabriel’s Message,” about the angel’s visit to Mary. It’s been covered memorably by Sting, but I like this particular group’s rendition for its simplicity.
For a more secular change of pace, there’s the catchy “The Christmas Waltz.” Bing Crosby sings it here, in a production number that is the height of 60s retro awesomeness.
“Mary’s Little Boy Child” is also a moving song that I’d love to hear far more often. Here it is, sung by Harry Belafonte. (Andy Williams also did a beautiful rendition.)
“The Sussex Carol” is lighthearted and lovely, and it’s sung here by The Priests (three guys who really are priests). It always makes me feel like I should be wandering around in the snow with holly and ivy and wassail.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the English composer John Rutter, who has penned some astonishingly beautiful carols. Here’s my favorite of them, Angel’s Carol. It’s not the Christmas season for me until I’ve heard this song.
What are your favorite underplayed Christmas songs?