CTK Music Director, Amanda Holley, recently put together a list of recommended albums for your advent playlist. Here are a few of her favorites:
In the Town of David - Ordinary Time - This folk trio met in a "History of Christian Worship" class in seminary and has since recorded five albums together. In the Town of David includes thoughtful arrangements of traditional Advent hymns, as well as original songs, many of which they shared at a Christmas concert at CTK ten years ago. They came out with another Advent album, Good News, in 2016 that is also worth checking out!
Joy: An Irish Christmas Live - Keith and Kristyn Getty - The prolific modern hymn writers and their band have put together a rousing collection of Advent and Christmas carols woven with traditional Irish tunes to create a lively celebration of Jesus' birth. One of my favorites from this album is "O Children, Come," a little a cappella call and response gem.
Awaken Our Souls, O God of Hope - St. Olaf College Choirs and Orchestra - For over 100 years, the choirs and orchestra of St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, have offered their annual Christmas Festival, a musical celebration of the season. Over 500 talented students from six ensembles participate each year. I'm partial to this album not only for the powerful orchestral and choral compositions and superb musicianship, but also because I was a student participant! If you can't get enough choral music, tune in for their live stream on Sunday afternoon, December 2.
Waiting Songs - Rain for Roots - Singer-songwriters Sandra McCracken, Ellie Holcomb, Flo Paris, and Katy Bowser, all young moms, have come together to write new Scripture songs for children. Their Advent album with a folk feel includes songs based on Isaiah 11, Psalm 62, and Luke 1, among other passages. While it is geared towards kids, it's a wonderful listen for grown-ups as well!
Messiah - Handel and Haydn Society - In my humble opinion, you cannot make a playlist for Advent and Christmas without including Handel's monumental work for choir, soloists, and orchestra. This year will mark the 165th presentation of Messiah by Boston's Handel and Haydn Society; you can listen to last year's full performance here. Part I includes the Advent and Christmas texts, including the sublime opening tenor accompagnato and air, "Comfort Ye, My People" and "Every Valley." However, for a real treat, make sure you listen all the way until the final "Worthy Is the Lamb/Amen." Finally, if you'd like to dig in even more, check out these Messiah-related Advent guides:
Hallelujah: A Journey Through Advent with Handel's Messiah - Cindy Rollins
The Handel's Messiah Family Advent Reader - Donna W. Payne and Fran Lenzo (out of print, but available some places online)
Every Valley: Advent with the Scriptures of Handel's Messiah - foreword by Albert L. Blackwell