Bill Kirby

Online news editor for The Augusta Chronicle.

Readers share favorite Christmas songs

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Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl.

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Havilah Chandler, 10, of St. Paul's Episcopal Church Canterbury Choir, sings O' Holy Night in preparation for a Christmas Eve service.  Emily Rose Bennett/Staff
Emily Rose Bennett/Staff
Havilah Chandler, 10, of St. Paul's Episcopal Church Canterbury Choir, sings O' Holy Night in preparation for a Christmas Eve service.
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– Bess Streeter Aldrich

Think about it. No season has its own music like Christmas.

There is so much, and it is so beloved that radio stations can (and do) play nothing but Christmas songs for a month, and that’s OK.

But try this (I did): Ask people to tell you their favorite Christmas song, and then watch them wander all over the place.

Most of us have so many favorites that we tend to name two, three or four.

This year is no exception. I’ve asked readers of The Augusta Chronicle to name their favorite Christmas song, and the responses have slipped down the Newsroom chimney faster than you can say “Donner and Blitzen.”

Two came in at the top of the list: Mary Did you Know?, a top vote-getter in years past, and O, Holy Night, an old favorite for a new day.

Why do people like them? I’ll let them tell you.

Mary, Did You Know – The words are so poignant. As a mom, we look at our children and wonder what they will grow to be - who they will become and I am sure Mary did that, too. Did she know what her son would become – what he would do. I cry every time I hear that song.”

– Fran Wolff

Mary, Did You Know? – I have a 4-month-old grandson and that song really hits home when I think of him.”

-- Susan Harbin

“My favorite Christmas song is, Mary, Did You Know? It’s performed so reverently, yet stirringly, by our wonderful choir at St. Mark United Methodist Church ... Always a joy to hear.”

– Gloria Marsella

O Holy Night is my favorite. A very close second is Sleigh Bells.”

– PJ Rodgers

“Both my wife and I love most all of them, but a couple that are especially meaningful are O Holy Night and Away in a Manger. O Holy Night is tough for (us) nonprofessionals to sing, but in the ‘hands’ of a skilled singer can be sublime, especially the often-skipped second verse. (Listen to the Sandi Patti version some time!)

Away in a Manger is almost the opposite; a simple song even children can sing. It holds special significance to me because it is the only song my father, a regular but silent churchgoer, would ever sing. (Maybe because it mentions cattle and he was a part-time farmer?) He has been gone five years now but every time I hear or sing the song I still think of him singing it and I nearly tear up.”

– Tim and Connie Zello

“My favorite is The Christ­mas Song by Nat King Cole and also redone by many other recording artists. It always feels like Christmas when you hear that violin at the beginning and hear Cole’s voice … ‘Chestnuts roasting on an open fire… ’ ”

– Matthew E. Hodges

“My personal favorite nonreligious piece is the Carol of the Bells. Everyone from Mannheim Steamroller to Barry Manilow has a version available … some rock, some roll, some reverberate, some send chills down your spine. But the most beloved piece for my husband and myself is and always will be O Holy Night. Perry Como did one of the must beautiful recordings of it and it is still available today.

– Janice McNair

“My favorite is, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, the words of which come from Longfellow’s poem, Christmas Bells.

“I almost shout the words, ‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep.’ This carol preaches the message of Christmas, ‘Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men.’ I am a great believer in and proponent of Christ’s second greatest commandment.”

– Perry Holcomb

Oh Come All Ye Faithful – I love it because my dad used to belt this out at church, and in Latin yet. He had a great voice, and knew all the words.

“The other is probably the best loved of all time, Silent Night. I love to sing and hear this one in its purest, original form in German, with guitar accompaniment. It’s the way Hans Gruber originally did it so long ago. I don’t play the guitar, but would love to hear someone in a local church present it that way in a candlelight service on Christmas Eve.”

– Seth Benson

(Thanks to all who shared ... and Merry Christ­mas to all.)

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Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 12/23/11 - 05:51 am
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The folks that love "Oh, Holy

The folks that love "Oh, Holy Night" should look up Celine Dion's version on YouTube. It is my absolute favorite and gives me chills! Makes me think of what an angel would sound like singing that song!

itsanotherday
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itsanotherday 12/23/11 - 09:50 am
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"Oh Holy Night" is one of the
Unpublished

"Oh Holy Night" is one of the most uplifting and beautiful melodies ever written IMO. Even if you aren't connected to the message, the music itself is just wonderful. I've heard children sing it and just about bring me to tears.

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