Walk into any bookseller or music megastore at this time of year and you’ll find dozens of Christmas recordings. Trying to decide what to buy can become an overwhelming task. Whether you’re buying presents for friends and family, or just adding to your own collection, my personal list of the most interesting traditional and unusual Christmas CD recordings can guide your holiday music shopping.

Christmas at the Brooklyn Tabernacle
Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir • Carol Cymbala, Conductor
Listen: O Come Emmanuel
Buy it     Choir website
Totally joyful and inspiring arrangements of works in the Christian Contemporary and African-American Gospel worship styles, featuring deeply spiritual solo and choral singing from this Grammy Award winning choir. The large and enthusiastic ensemble blends together wonderfully and gives 100 percent on every track. In listening to this CD, you feel that all the performers are deeply committed to worshiping God and sharing their message of good news with their listeners.

Our Heart’s Joy: A Chanticleer Christmas
Chanticleer • Joseph Jennings, Music Director
Listen: Ríu, ríu, chíu
Buy it     Choir website
America’s premier all-male, professional choral ensemble presents a diverse and deeply satisfying program of familiar and obscure repertoire from around the globe, including works by Mouton, Gabrieli, Praetorius, Guerrero, Britten, and Biebl’s beloved setting of Ave Maria. This recording also includes rousing spirituals wonderfully arranged by their gifted director, Joseph Jennings.

A Little Christmas Music
The King's Singers
Listen: We wish you a Merry Christmas
Buy it     Choir website
An eclectic mix of familiar and unfamiliar American, German, French, Spanish, and English carols sung flawlessly by England’s most famous male a cappella group. Beautiful and humorous arrangements featuring the King’s Singers, the City of London Sinfonia, and opera star Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. If you like your Christmas carols sung with Hollywood glitz, this recording will provide you with an hour’s worth of satisfaction and enjoyment.

A White Christmas at Longwood Gardens
Saint Clement's Choir, Philadelphia, PA • Peter Conte, Conductor
Listen: Jingle Bells
Buy it     Choir website
A wonderful mix of sacred and secular works sung by Philadelphia’s best professional church choir and recorded with the pipe organ at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA. From the sublime What Sweeter Music of John Rutter to the clever and amusing rendition of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (sung in Latin), this recording is an excellent addition to your collection of holiday recordings.

Voices of Angels
The American Boychoir • James Litton, Conductor
Listen: Up! good Christen folk
Buy it     Choir website
This recording is an interesting combination of carols and anthems from this famous children’s choir. Whether it’s O Come All Ye Faithful, John Rutter’s rousing Shepherd's Pipe Carol, or Basque and Sicilian tunes, the American Boychoir sings with the artistry and musicianship of the best professional adult ensembles. You’ll find yourself playing tracks of this one at other times of the year than Christmas.

Christmas Night: Carols of the Nativity
The Cambridge Singers • John Rutter, Conductor
Listen: O Tannenbaum
Buy it     Choir website
Predominantly traditional English and German works, including In Dulci Jubilo, Away in a Manger, and Harold Darke’s In the bleak midwinter, with a few of conductor John Rutter’s original carols, including Candlelight Carol, There is a Flower, and Nativity Carol. Exquisitely sung recording, trademark high standard performance from this well-known English choral ensemble.

An American Christmas: Shape-note Carols from New England and Appalachia
The Tudor Choir • Doug Fullington, Conductor
Listen: Antioch (Joy To The World)
Buy it     Choir website
This outstanding recording features American music from a collection of Advent and Christmas shape note songs, rustic and rural tunes sung with spirit, simplicity, and dignity. A refreshing change from most run-of-the-mill holiday CDs and a fascinating glimpse of colonial Americana.

A Choral Christmas
Choir of Trinity Church, Copley Square, Boston • Brian Jones, Conductor
Listen: O Little Town of Bethlehem
Buy it     Choir website
Recorded in honor of the 125th anniversary of this historic Episcopal parish, this CD presents the broadest and most diverse program of traditional and newly composed Christmas carols. Very fine and well-blended choral singing that is supported by excellent organ accompaniment. An inspiring recording.

A Winter's Solstice I
Windham Hill Artists
Listen: High Plains: Christmas on the High-Line • Philip Aaberg, Piano
Buy it     Website
Recorded nearly 20 years ago, this is the first in a series of recordings made in celebration of the Winter Solstice. Ten tracks of stunning arrangements and new works feature classical guitar, woodwinds, synthesizer, piano, and other chamber instruments. The artists on this disc include David Qualey, Ira Stein, Will Ackerman, Philip Aaberg, Liz Story, Malcolm Dalglish, Shadowfax, and Mark Isham, all of whom have issued their own solo recordings on this same label. Jesu Joy, New England Morning, and Tale of Two Cities are my personal favorites.

Jessye Norman, with the New York Choral Society, American Boychoir, and Empire Chamber Ensemble • Robert De Cormier, Conductor
Listen: This Christmastide (Jessye's Carol)
Buy it
Beautiful, lush arrangements are the canvas for opera star Jessye Norman’s soaring and dramatic soprano voice. O Holy Night and the title track This Christmastide are guaranteed to stir your emotions. This is my personal favorite holiday recording. Ms. Norman brought refinement and elegance to this project and was magnificently supported by the orchestra and choruses.

DVD: Carols from King's
Choir of King's College, Cambridge • Stephen Cleobury, Conductor
Buy it Choir Website
Beautiful video and surround sound capture the legendary Christmas Eve service, broadcast live around the world from King's College, Cambridge, England since 1928. You can also listen live this year, joining a virtual congregation of millions worldwide, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time on December 24.

DVD: Christmas with Chanticleer: An Orchestra of Voices
Buy it Choir Website
Enjoy this video of Chanticleer's 2002 Christmas Concert at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Download: King's Singers Christmas
The King's Singers
Buy it Choir Website
The King's Singers newest Christmas Album can be downloaded in MP3 format from eClassical. 25 carols cover five centuries, seven languages, and a full range of Christmas themes. Includes a Christmas version of the group's trademark song You are the New Day.

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