Top Ten Contemporary Christian Christmas Songs
Possibly the best way to cause trouble on Christmas is to make a top 10 Christmas songs list, fill it with controversial selections, and then—if you dare—click “Post.”
The next thing you know, readers are printing a screenshot of your profile photo and taping it to their dartboards. (Do people even have actual dartboards anymore or just apps of dartboards?) If that’s not bad enough, the ghosts of Christmas music past like in the Charles Dickens story begin arriving one-by-one at your door, and they show you how much better your life would have been if you had picked their music for your list.
Okay, maybe it’s not that dramatic, but to preserve the spirit of the season, I’d like to preface this list with the following: it’s not Gospel truth. Sure, I did spend some time researching chart performance and sales numbers, but this list really is just one person’s opinion.
So, without further ado, I give you the top 10 contemporary Christian Christmas songs:
1. “All is Well” by Michael W. Smith
Besides being a classic track on the legendary 1989 release Christmas, it happens to be Michael W. Smith’s favorite Christmas song from that album. In an interview with CCM, he explains why:
“[All is Well] just wears me out, ’cause it’s got so much emotion in it for me. I had it on the road with me before I had a lyric, and it just made me cry in my room. I don’t want this to sound egotistical, but I really feel like it was a God-inspired song, like it was written through me. It makes me happy, and it makes me cry—sort of bittersweet.”
2. “Christmas This Year” by tobyMac (feat. Leigh Nash)
It’s an epic collaboration—Leigh Nash of Sixpence None the Richer fame and tobyMac—and they outdo themselves. If you’re not tapping your toes to this electro-pop song’s lo-fi funky backbeat, it’s probably because you’re driving—in which case, please don’t press the accelerator to the beat of this song. You might get pulled over by the police for driving under the influence of AWESOMENESS.
3. “Christmas Time Again” by Steven Curtis Chapman
This chart-topping Christmas song offers something different: pure and simple retro rockabilly. It features wandering, bluesy guitar solos with vintage clean tone, shimmering tremolo chords, and even some jazz organ for good measure. It’s simple, incredibly catchy, and absolutely upbeat. And, frankly, it’s a refreshing change of pace from Chapman’s usual pop sound.
4. “Give This Christmas Away” by Matthew West (feat. Amy Grant)
Besides two big names collaborating, its anti-materialism message stands out in a culture where Black Friday is morphing into Grey Thursday—effectively making Thanksgiving just another shopping day. The song is not a condemnation of buying things, necessarily, but it reminds us that giving is better than receiving.
5. “Mary Did You Know” by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene (but covered by many others)
It is probably illegal somewhere to exclude this song from a Top 10 Christmas song list. I am a law-abiding citizen, so I have made sure to include this song. The first time I heard it was at a small town Christmas pageant in the Nineties, and I’ve heard it just about everywhere else since. It’s an all-time classic!
6. “Go Tell It On The Mountain” by Seabird
The only complaint from fans about Seabird’s Americana pop Christmas album is that it’s too short! Come on, guys, make another one already! The most popular track on that album, “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” adds a rural, rootsy pep to the Christmas season that you don’t often hear in CCM. Love it!
7. “Now Behold the Lamb” by Kirk Franklin
This comes from an older Kirk Franklin album: Christmas from 1998. I’m not sure if it’s the faint sounds of choir members spontaneously praising God in the background as the gorgeous chord progression slowly develops or if it’s the powerful lyrics, but this song is one of the most worshipful Christmas songs I’ve ever heard.
8. “Wonderful Christmastime” by Jars of Clay
Jars of Clay turned this Paul McCartney Christmas classic into their own masterpiece, and its gorgeous, eclectic instrumentation and reverb-soaked vocals deserve a spot on any Christmas mix.
9. “You’re Here” by Francesca Battistelli
This song might be the most tear-jerking Christmas worship song ever written. It’s a few years old now, but we still can’t hear it without getting choked up as the simple truth of Christmas—God taking on human flesh and entering the world as a crying newborn baby—is summed up with two simple words: You’re here.
10. “Feliz Navidad” by David Crowder Band
How can anyone resist listening to the long, shaggy bearded Duck-Dynasty-look-a-like David Crowder on his version of Feliz Navidad? It’s a more obscure track on an older Christmas collection, but this song deserves more attention for its sheer entertainment value. David Crowder can be very serious and heavy-hearted in his recordings, so it is fun to see him do something, well, a little more light-hearted. I want to wish you a Merry Christmas too, David Crowder!