I don’t blame those who dislike Christmas music. Much of what you hear on the radio in December, or over the speakers at the mall, is terrible. But within the vast and diverse genre, there are treasures to be found.
I’ve been encouraged, for example, that in the last few decades there has been a renaissance of Advent–focused Christmas music: music that is theologically rich and, while still joyful, somewhat more somber and serious than pop Christmas radio. This music helps listeners enter into the Advent story in a way that focuses on spiritual contemplation more than tinsel-drenched merriment.
In the last few decades there has been a renaissance of Advent-focused Christmas music that helps listeners enter into the Advent story in a way that focuses on spiritual contemplation more than tinsel-drenched merriment.
As a way to celebrate the abundance of such music released in the 2010s, I’ve listed my 10 favorite Advent albums released in the last 10 years. I also created a 100-song playlist (find it on Spotify or Apple Music) that includes selected songs from each album, as well as a bunch of other great Advent songs released by various artists in the 2010s.
In compiling the list below, I focused on albums that contained both excellent original Advent songs and beautiful covers of familiar carols. Another criteria I considered was richness of lyrical content and appropriate musical mood. Advent of all the Christian seasons has a particular mood, and the albums below capture it well. They beautifully contemplate the key themes of Advent—hope, peace, joy, love, waiting, longing, tension—and do so by engaging Scripture in meaningful ways.
I pray these albums, and the accompanying playlist, will meet you this season in a place of quiet reverence and awestruck worship, as together we pause to ponder the history-altering, mind-bending miracle of Christ’s birth.
1. Future of Forestry, Light Has Come: Christmas (2019) and The Advent Anthology (2015)
The story, scope, and significance of Advent is epic, and few artists capture it as well as Future of Forestry (Eric Owyoung) does. His just-released album and previously released anthology of three Advent EPs contain some of the decade’s best Christmas music. Owyoung’s original Advent songs (like the exquisite “What Beauty”) and reinterpretations of classics (like “Do You Hear What I Hear?”) are second to none—ambitious, soaring, poetic compositions…