40 Essential Christmas Albums

Classics and new entries worthy of your holiday bonus


Choir of Kings College (Cambridge), 'A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols'

Choir of Kings College (Cambridge), A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
Courtesy of EMI Classics

If you get maxxed out on the secular aspects of Christmas – shopping for presents, flying across the country, hearing "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" – this can be the antidote. It's a Christmas Eve service in the Anglican mode – Yuletide hymns sung by a choir, interspersed with spoken blessings and Biblical passages – held since 1918 in a chapel at Cambridge University. While it doesn't follow the traditional liturgy, the tone is formal and the results are deeply moving.

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