Since the angelic choir sang to the shepherds on the very first Christmas night, choirs have been a part of Christmas. This holiday season, some of the nation's best choral groups have come to Beliefnet to sing for you: children's choirs, church choirs, community choruses and professional ensembles perform favorite carols, old and new, for our third Christmas Choir Celebration. Enjoy the music!

Chicago a cappella
Chicago, IL  Jonathan Miller, Conductor
Listen: Children, go where I send thee (Morris)
Buy it Choir website

This 9-voice professional ensemble impressed us with their precision and the exciting live performances captured on this CD. This funky arrangement of a popular spiritual is one of several on this delightful album, and is accompanied by holiday songs from Iceland, India, Ireland, Ukraine and Sweden, as well as several jazzy Hanukkah songs.

The St. Olaf Choir
Northfield, MN  Anton Armstrong, Conductor
Listen: Rise up, shepherd, and follow (Dalglish)
Buy it Choir website
Enjoy the fresh, youthful sound of the famous choir of St. Olaf College performing this energetic Appalachian carol with hammer dulcimer artist Malcolm Dalglish. Contemporary American Christmas songs, a Chinese carol, and, of course, Scandinavian carols are also featured.

The Riverside Choir
New York City, NY  Helen Cha-Ryo & Timothy Smith, Conductors
Listen: A babe is born (Mathias)
Buy it Choir website
This lively modern setting of a medieval text, by the late Welsh composer Mathias, is a sample of the thoughtful selection of Christmas music on this enjoyable album. Works by New York City composers are showcased along with music from the massive Riverside Church pipe organ.

Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral
Kansas City, MO  John Schaefer, Conductor
Listen: Creator of the stars (youth & bell choirs)
Listen: Angels from the realms of glory (Ferguson)
Church website
This beautiful album of music for Advent and Christmas offers an intelligent mix of meditative songs and rousing hymns with blazing trumpet fanfares and organ. Fine performances from the excellent children's choir and bell choir make this an especially enjoyable CD.

Michigan State U. Children's Choir
East Lansing, MI  Mary Alice Stollak, Conductor
Listen: The Huron Carol (Willan)
Buy it Choir website
The gentle melody of the Huron Carol, the first carol written in North America, is perfect for the 70 young voices who sing it--and ten other well-known Christmas carols--flawlessly and with touching tenderness.

St. Paul's Cathedral
Buffalo, NY  Dale Adelmann, Conductor
Listen: Joy to the World
Buy it Choir website
Christmas music in the Anglican tradition, performed by the well-respected choir of men and boys, includes beautiful but rarely-heard carols by Howells and Warlock. The fine cathedral girls' choir is also heard in an effective performance of Britten's Ceremony of Carols.

Monmouth Civic Chorus
Red Bank, NJ  Mark Shapiro, Conductor
Listen: Sing we now of Christmas (Prentice)
Buy it Choir website
This 120-voice community chorus gives a spirited performance of this carol on their 50th anniversary album, featuring traditional carols arranged with a new twist by noted New Jersey composer Stephen Paulus.

Pacific Camerata
San Diego, CA  Dan Ratelle, Conductor
Listen: Hodie Christus natus est (Sweelinck)
Buy it Choir website
A crystal-clear performance of the famous Sweelinck motet leads off this recording of music of the Renaissance by Pacific Camerata, a 16-voice amateur vocal ensemble specializing in early music.

First Presbyterian Madrigal Singers
Spartanburg, SC  Holt Andrews, Conductor
Listen: In Bethlehem (Cornelius)
Choir website
An interesting selection of Christmas music well sung by this enthusiastic 24-voice amateur community chorus. The title track is a rarely heard arrangement of the famous Advent chant, by Kodaly.

Windsong Chamber Choir
Oklahoma City, OK  Kerry Barnett, Conductor
Listen: Ding, dong, merrily on high (Willcocks)
Buy it: (405) 721-7723
Engaging singing from this 27-voice community chorus on their first recording featuring Christmas choral classics like I wonder as I wander, Still, still, still and the Welsh lullaby Suo-gân along with selections by Poulenc, Sweelinck, Distler and Rutter.

In the interest of fairness and full disclosure, we've given two final offerings their own category. Many of the outside experts who helped us assess this year's submissions agreed that these last two CDs were among the best we received. But both came from New York-area choirs with connections to our staff. We trust you'll agree their beautiful renditions of favorite carols are in a class by themselves.

Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola
New York City, NY  Kent Tritle, Conductor
Listen: Away in a manger (Willcocks)
Buy it Choir website
The Church of St. Ignatius Loyola boasts an ambitious music program featuring some of New York City's finest professional singers. This sensitive rendition of a favorite carol is one of many Christmas classics on this first-rate CD, including three exquisitely performed Victoria motets.

The Princeton Singers
Princeton, NJ  Steven Sametz, Conductor
Listen: Weinachtsmotette (Becker)
Buy it Choir website
The beautiful German "Christmas motet" showcases the skillful, expressive singing of the Princeton Singers. The album is an intriguing mix of music from many nations, medieval to modern, including Sametz' fiery Gaudete and his entertaining suite of Mexican carols.

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