Christmas

Favorite Advent and Mary Songs

Nick Alexander here...

We are already into our second week of Advent, with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception before us, as well as the Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe. And Christmas is merely weeks away.

Are you aware that TopCatholicSongs has a number of playlists already available to correspond to your Seasonal needs?

And, as is the benefits of these lists, you can immediately link to the iTunes page, where you can listen to the tracks first, and then purchase them--and instantly have them downloaded onto your computer. From there, you can listen freely, or you can upload them onto your own MP3 player, or burn them directly onto a CD.

If you like any particular song in the list, you are further free to explore that artist's full output, also on the iTunes page.

Or, you can click to any number of direct links on these lists, and have access to a Catholic or independent music retailer, where you can purchase the full CDs (perhaps as a gift?)

How do you have access to the Advent Lists? Or the Mary Lists? Or the Christmas lists?

Easy. On the bottom of each entry there are a number of Tags. Click on the tag that you would want to listen to (say, Advent), and immediately all the Advent pages will come up. It will be fun just sorting through them all.

In the meantime, do you have any favorite psalms/hymns/spiritual songs that are befitting for the season? Feel free to share them... leave a comment below!

Christmas Albums 2008

Nick Alexander here...
Christmas and Advent 2008 is upon us. This is a tremendous opportunity to wait in expectant hope for the coming of our Risen Savior, but also a time to reflect upon His first coming as a precious infant. These albums provide the best in both contemporary and traditional carols, both servicing Advent and Christmas. I invite you to check them out at your leisure, and introduce them to your family.
Peace!

  1. Christmas Joy by Gretchen Harris
    This Christmas album has a mix of classics and contemporaries, and an original, "Promised Messiah." (Try out: Joy to the World)
  2. Bethlehem Morn by Chuck Stevens
    This project contains 9 original songs and 4 traditional Christmas songs. These songs range from reflective, meditative, folk, and contemporary; the title track, "Joseph (Bethlehem Morn) was included in the Spiritwing Records "Catholic Christmas" compilation in 2007. All of the original pieces, and the traditionals came about as a result of prayer and reading the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke, the book of the prophet Isaiah, and several are from the possible viewpoint of several of the participants in the Gospel infancy narratives. (Ex: Once in Royal David's City)
  3. In His Presence...the Gift of Christmas by Trish Foti Genco
    Beautifully orchestrated Christmas Classics. Including contemporary, arias, and New Orleans Jazz. (Ex: What Child Is This)

Story Behind the Song: God Almighty, Little Child

Gerard Faucheux writes:

A few years ago, during midnight mass in Brookhaven, Mississippi, a song was played that just kind of settled in my soul. I don't really remember the melody or the words - just the feeling. Something about the dark church and the sound of the guitar and gentle singing just created something that has never left. During one of my long commutes, ideas started coming, comparing the awesomeness of God with the frailty of a little baby and other paradoxes due to Jesus, the son of God, the 2nd person of the blessed trinity, coming to live as one of us, to die as one of us, to die for all of us. Why? For love of us. I still don't understand this love. Even on my best days, I don't deserve this love. Yet while we were sinners, he died for us. (Rom 5:8) Wow! Thank you, Jesus!

I was thrilled (and extremely nervous) to be able to play and sing this song in my home church, St. Joseph's in Paulina, Louisiana a few years ago. A dark church - midnight mass - the sound of guitar and (somewhat) gentle singing - I hope that someone else was touched and changed the way that I was years before.

God Almighty, Little Child
Words and music by Gerard C. Faucheux, Sr.

God Almighty, little child.
King of Kings so meek and mild.
Creator of the universe cradled in her arms to nurse.
Why did You come? Why leave Your home?
Why become a creature so low?
You came because You loved, now let us love You.

On Your birthday, Jesus, it’s time to recall
That You humbled yourself to save one and all.
So we sing Glory to God in the Highest
And on Earth, peace to all.
We lift our voice in Alleluias
For You came to save us all,
For You came to save us all.

Earth creator, on Earth You dwell.
Omnipresent, Emmanuel.
Unbound by space, unbound by time.
Confined by days and trapped by night.
Equal to God, but You lived as man,
I try, but I cannot understand.
Your ways are high above the ways of man...

Glory to God in the Highest
And on Earth, peace to all.
We lift our voice in Alleluias
For You came to save us all,
For You came to save us all.

Copyright © 2005 Gerard C. Faucheux, Sr.

Nancy Krebs' Christmas Songs

Singer-Songwriter Nancy Krebs has created an iMix of songs from her Christmas CD Come to the Stable--filled with original songs that invite us to contemplate the wondrous Gift of the Christ Child. Here are some of her comments:

Waiting for the Christ Child

I heard a wonderful sermon given some years back about finding a personal desert like John the Baptist to await the coming of the Christ Child. It gave me the inspiration to write this song.

Imagine

The story of the Immaculate Conception. How Joachim and Anne must have felt watching their little girl. Did they know how special she was?

Love Makes Room

This song was inspired by a Baptist pastor in Columbia Maryland, Rev. Steve McNeely. His theme revolved around the 'busy-ness' of the Christmas season, and the time leading up to it. How busy we are makes us blind to those around us who might need our attention. We feel so rushed and over-committed, that we actually fear there's not enough of us to go around. Luckily, we have the beautiful examples of Mary and Joseph: two people who must have felt fear that they might not be able to complete the monumental tasks God had placed before them. But they let Love enter the picture; and in doing so were able to 'make room' for whatever the Father had in store for them--and so can we.

Sound of a Promise

I've always been struck by the hush that comes upon the world on Christmas Eve night--when darkness falls. It's not just the anticipation of the gifts under the tree--there's a cosmic 'anticipation', a radiancy in the air. Did anyone feel this on the first Christmas Eve; when the promise of the Father was about to be fulfilled? What sounds did they hear that night? That's what inspired this song.

Come to the Stable

When I was quite young, I used to wonder how children in other countries/cultures might view the Baby Jesus. I knew how I saw him--pink and white complexion with blond hair and blue eyes. But how did children in Russia, or Japan, Africa, South America, China see Him? That's what inspired this song, that I wrote in 1972!

Silent Night

Well, who doesn't know this song? But I love how it came about. It was written on Christmas Eve in 1818 by Fr. Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber because the organ at their church, St. Nicholas in Obendorf, Austria broke down. They needed to come up with something fast–so they wrote Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht; and for Christmas Eve Mass, it was accompanied by Herr Gruber’s lowly guitar. It has since become one of the most sung carols in the world.

He Came to Us

God has Infinite Power, Infinite Knowledge. He could have chosen any way He wanted to redeem humankind, to bring us back to himself after the fall of Adam and Eve. He could have done it any way, but in His infinite wisdom and goodness, He chose to become one…like us….

Mary, Did You Know?

Several years ago, while I was driving, I heard a song that was so moving, I had to pull off the road--I was reduced to tears. I thought the words were so touching. It asks question after question of the greatest of the Lord’s apostles, Mary the mother of Jesus. Written by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene, it too, has become a beloved song of the season.

Perfect Plan

Jesus was not destined for a cushy life, filled with money, power and prestige. He was destined for the Cross. There are hints of this journey even at His birth. I read this wonderful book: The Passion of the Infant Christ, by Carol Houselander. In it, she drew a lot parallels between the story of Bethlehem and the story of Calvary.

O Holy Night

Every family has its favorite Christmas carol, and in my family (being very dramatic on a DNA level) has always loved this one!

Love Makes Room

Nancy Krebs ©12/15/98

The angel told her "Fear not"
Yet she was still afraid.
How could she be the Mother of God
Such an awesome role to be played.
How could she ever tell Joseph?
Would he just toss her aside?
What about this baby to be born?
When a small voice in her cried:

‘Love makes room.” She looked deep in her heart
And she found a place
All she had to do was think of the face
Of her child to be, that’s all she had to see...
She said: “for Him, I’ll make room. Because love makes room”

The angel told him "Fear not"
Take Mary home as your wife.
She will be the Mother of a Son
Who will bring all people new life."
But what should he do about Mary?
Should he just put her aside?
What about this baby to be born?
When a small voice in him cried:

“Love makes room.” He looked deep in his heart
And he found a place.
All he had to do was think of her face
With its silent plea, for the child to be
And he said: “For them I’ll make room, because love makes room”

Angels whisper “Fear not”
Trust in the Savior’s will.
That Baby born in Bethlehem
Is living in us still.
But who has time for compassion?
It’s too hard to hear the cries.
If we follow the footsteps of Mary and Joseph
That small voice in us sighs:

“Love makes room”
We’ll look deep in our hearts
And we’ll find a place.
All we have to do is just see His face
In one another, every sister and brother...
And we’ll say: “For them I’ll make room.
Because love makes room.”

Mary made room in her being,
Joseph made room in his heart,
We, too, can make room, because love makes room.

Dedicated to Rev. Steve McNeely, pastor, Columbia Baptist Fellowship

Personal Favorite Christmas Songs

Nick Alexander here...

When I created this list, I was unaware of the passing of Dan Fogelberg, earlier that day. While I didn't follow his secular work (not that I dislike it... I just never got around to listening to his box-set), I personally believe that his Christmas album is one for the ages. Every song is an original, and the lyrics focus strongly on the story of the birth of the Christ-child. I cannot recommend his album highly enough.

Granted, this list cannot be complete without at least one novelty song. If you haven't heard Steve Taylor's take on Winter Wonderland, you will not soon forget it. (Whether you'll like it or not, that is another question entirely).

Great Advent Reflections and New Christmas CDs

Susan Bailey writes:
From time to time I get more new stuff than I can schedule into the GrapeVine News Minute Podcast or the magazine, so I will mention it here.

Sean Ward from CatholicTV in Boston, MA sent me a note yesterday about Advent reflections that they are doing on the website. If you have not visited this site before, be sure and visit it. All their programming is online, proving once again that CatholicTV is staying ahead of the curve. You can find their Advent programs where it says "Now Playing - CATHOLICTV SERIES" - scroll down a bit to find the Advent link. Of their Advent programming, Sean writes, "Check out Fr. Bill Kelly. He has a different reflection every week (along with the other four priests). Beginning next week they are sung. CatholicTV's Advent programming is underway. Each day of the Advent calendar we have a different reflection. Think of it as your thought for the day as you wait for Jesus birthday."

Artists have certainly been busy! Just within the last week I've received 3 wonderful new projects, one of which (Popple's new release, "Plaid") will be profiled in the Winter issue of GrapeVine, coming out in February.

My schedule with the podcast is full for this month but I just had to mention these two new releases that I've received related to Christmas.

Mike Zabrocki has put out his first Christmas project and it contains some traditional songs that I've not heard before including my favorite, "The Cherry Tree Carol" which he does with his wife, Laura. There's also a great Advent hymn on it, "Come O Lord." Listen to samples on Mike's MySpace site.

Tom Franzak has put out a wonderful new project which includes members of his family (and they all sing very well!). The packaging for this CD is very unusual and really catches the eye. When it first arrived in my mailbox and I opened the package, I thought it was a Christmas card. That's because the package is designed to be just that. The inside contains the CD, lyrics to all the original songs and a picture of Tom and his family. It's beautifully done. I listened on the way into work this morning and really enjoyed hearing both spiritually-based songs ("Emmanuel," "Behold the Child," "Let It Be Done," etc.) and songs with traditional secular Christmas themes ("A Christmas Card," "On Christmas Day," "Through the Eyes of a Child," etc.). I always love anything that's new and innovative. Tom's daughter Lucy, especially, is a wonderful singer. Great job, all you Franzaks! You can find their project at www.littlewaychristmas.com.

That's it for now. Stay tuned for this weekend's podcast which will feature Lynn Geyer talking about her Merry Christmas New York City show at Carnegie Hall.

Peace and Happy Advent!
Susan Bailey

Merry Christmas, New York City!

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