Christmas is a season of music. From the moment Gabriel addresses Mary, the news of the coming Savior makes people burst into song.
As for you people out there who don’t like Christmas music, my guess is that you either hate the sentimentality or that you’re just tired of hearing the same old carols sung over and over, year after year. I hope to change your mind by giving you twenty-eight examples of Advent and Christmas music that are unsentimental or, at the very least, off the beaten path.
What better way to start than with one of Bach’s Christmas cantatas? (Is that the plural of cantata?) I sang Jauchzet frohlocket at New Saint Andrews back in the day and it remains one of my favorite pieces of Christmas music. For Advent Listening No. 1, I chose the opening chorus, but I recommend listening to the entire thing if you can. You may recognize a few of the choruses as the tunes of popular hymns.
Jauchzet, frohlocket! auf, preiset die Tage,
Rühmet, was heute der Höchste getan!
Lasset das Zagen, verbannet die Klage,
Stimmet voll Jauchzen und Fröhlichkeit an!
Dienet dem Höchsten mit herrlichen Chören,
Laßt uns den Namen des Herrschers verehren!
Shout for joy, exult, rise up, glorify the day,
praise what today the highest has done!
Abandon hesitation, banish lamentation,
begin to sing with rejoicing and exaltation!
Serve the highest with glorious choirs,
let us honor the name of our ruler!
Lyrics and translation plucked from here.