Posted by: Billy Marsh | December 11, 2008

Non-Christmas Christmas Songs

Here’s a list of some of my favorite non-Christmas Christmas songs. What do I mean by that? Well, these are songs that speak to Christmas time, that is, having to do with the birth of Jesus Christ, but do not appear on a “Christmas” album per se. The only exception may be “Labour of Love” which can be found on Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God. To me, however, though the whole record is about the birth of Christ, it really is more so a concept album than a Christmas album, and could be listened to all year long without it looking like you were refusing to lose that Christmas-loving feeling. Nonetheless, Jill Phillips’ vocals on this track should bring any heart of stone or flesh to tears as she meditates upon Mary’s experience upon giving birth to the baby born a king. You should be able to listen to all of these in my media player in the sidebar. If I find more songs like these in my music collection, I’ll update the post. In the meantime, I’d like to hear what your favorite non-Christmas Christmas songs are.

  • In Bethlehem Tonight,” from Learning and Unlearning, by Jim Cole – This whole album is outstanding. Cole is the Christian version of James Taylor, but not intentionally. His likeness to Taylor is coincidental, not the result of some Christian music marketing scheme; however, their similarities are uncanny in terms of both their vocals and guitar styles. Nonetheless, this song is beautiful and stands on its own two feet without any comparison to a music legend like Taylor.
  • Labour of Love,” from Behold the Lamb of God, written by Andrew Peterson, sung by Jill Phillips – I’ve already commented on this one above as well in my post devoted to this particular record.
  • Winter Song,” from Home, by Fernando Ortega – This song appears on a CD that already has a very “earthy” feel, so it is no surprise that Ortega gave it a seasonal title. It tells the story of how the whole creation was waiting with great anticipation for the arrival of the Son of God. Ortega shines, as he always does in this regard, in giving a soft and tender tone to the track, where none of the excitement of the birth of Christ is lost. Ortega’s song musically gives off a “wintry” sensation but it’s messianic message leaves you feeling warm and cozy inside.
  • A Song for Canaan,” from Swallow the Sea, by Matthew Perryman Jones – I’m not absolutely sure if this song is about the birth of Christ. It seems to be told from the point of view of Mary as she awaits and longs for the birth of the Savior. The lyrics paint a portrait of a caring mother longing to see her child who is in the womb. Maybe I’m wrong? That’s why I still like to buy hard-copies of albums that come with liner notes because you can read what the writer has to say about his music, sometimes offering song-by-song commentary. As you can tell, my copy of Swallow the Sea is digital.


  1. I think the Charlie Brown Jazz song shouldn’t be a christmas song.

    James B.

  2. “A Song for Canaan” was a song written by Matthew about the birth of his daughter Canaan this past year. However, Matthew is an advocate of not locking down lyrics to mean any one thing, so, I’m sure that your enjoying that song from the perspective of Mary wouldn’t bother him a bit.

  3. Paul,

    Thanks for the info. I had a feeling I was wrong, but there were certain elements to the song that kept me from thinking otherwise. I love Matthew’s music, and especially like the hymn renditions he does for Indelible Grace.

  4. I suggest listening to On to Bethlehem, by christian musician and former Vigilantes of Love frontman Bill Mallonee at, it is the eigth song down. Really a GREAT tune!

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