Down to the last three days of this list, two of the spots are reserved for what I consider to be songs of reverence. They are my two favorite Christmas hymns, the two that mean the most to me as the celebration of Christ's birth nears.
The other one is just a really fun song about Santa Claus. That's part of the whole celebration too, right?
Today is a Sunday, however, and I've set it aside for my absolute favorite Christmas hymn -- "O Holy Night."
Here's the problem, though: "O Holy Night" became my favorite hymn sitting in a church pew during all those December Sundays of my childhood.
It's my favorite song when, in my mind and heart, I hear the Williamsport Christian Church choir of my youth singing it, accompanied by organ and piano.
It was also my favorite last Sunday sitting in the beautiful sanctuary at Gobin UMC as a young man named George Howard delivered the song with a voice that doesn't look like it should be coming from his teenage face.
I love this song in a worship setting, delivered with the reverence it deserves -- perhaps in a darkened church by candlelight.
And so, over the years, many recorded versions I've heard have fallen well short of what I hear in my mind. Artists make the mistake of trying to do too much.
Let this wonderful hymn be quiet where it should be quite and let it be grand where it needs to be grand.
In my search for the perfect rendition, I've gone to my country roots and found Charley Pride but it might be a bit too twangy for some of y'all.
Surprisingly, Weezer does a really nice job with it, but I still think this one is slightly off the mark.
I also enjoy a couple of instrumental versions, one with Richard Carpenter on piano and another featuring Richie Sambora on guitar.
The one rock version I thought worth including here is from Brian Setzer. Doing a great job of channeling Elvis (which is what Setzer often does when he's at his best), he delivers the song in the spirit it deserves.
I didn't know he had the pipes for this one.
But it still isn't perfect. I finally remembered, though, where I needed to go for a great version of "O Holy Night."
If you need a surfing song, go to the Beach Boys.
If you need a protest song, go to Bob Dylan.
But if you need a Christmas song, go to Bing Crosby.
Bing's album version of the song actually has a better sound, but the one below comes from one of his TV Christmas specials. His story telling about Jesus puts this over the top for me.
Enjoy, and have a holy night.
(A little bit of "The First Noel" there at the end, just for good measure. Sorry it ends suddenly.)
For Dec. 23, a reminder to all the kids out there: "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town"
The 24 days of Christmas (songs)
Dec. 1: 'Sleigh Ride' -- The Ronettes
Dec. 2: 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing' -- Marty Robbins
Dec. 3: 'O Tannenbaum' -- Vince Guaraldi Trio
Dec. 4: 'Blue Christmas' -- Elvis
Dec. 5: 'Santa Baby' -- Madonna
Dec. 6: 'It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas' -- Perry Como and the Fontane Sisters
Dec. 7: 'Here Comes Santa Claus' -- Alvin and the Chipmunks
Dec. 8: 'Angels We Have Heard on High' -- Brian Setzer Orchestra
Dec. 9: 'White Christmas' -- The Drifters
Dec. 10: 'Do You Hear What I Hear?' -- Bing Crosby
Dec. 11: 'Carol of the Bells' -- Celtic Woman
Dec. 12: 'Jingle Bells' -- Frank Sinatra
Dec. 13: 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' -- Judy Garland
Dec. 14: 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' -- Tennessee Ernie Ford and Straight No Chaser
Dec. 15: 'What Child Is This?' -- Johnny Mathis
Dec. 16: 'My Favorite Things' -- John Coltrane
Dec. 17: 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings' -- Barenaked Ladies/Sarah McLachlan
Dec. 18: 'Holly Jolly Christmas' -- Burl Ives
Dec. 19: 'The Christmas Song' -- Nat King Cole
Dec. 20: Cartoon Christmas Songs -- Burl Ives and Jimmy Durante
Dec. 21: 'Winter Wonderland' -- Dolly Parton