In response to Saint Peter's Helpers, I wanted to post a bit about specific Christmas CD's that I like. I don't have an extensive collection. I'm notorious for being behind the times technologically, so, just when I get a collection going, they change the mode of delivery and I have to start all over again!
I have CDs from two groups local to Maryland that I enjoy around Christmas. One is Larksong, that performs (under a different name, I think) at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. I have 3 of their CDs, one of which is called Softly the Stars are Shining. They are a small vocal group and their CDs will sound more like live (read "not necessarily perfect") performances, which, as a vocalist, I don't mind.
Another cool MD group are the Columbia Brass out of Columbia, MD. Their Christmas CD includes such favorites as Ave Verum, Greensleeves and Hallelujah Chorus.
I have good luck sometimes buying classical CDs at "regular" music stores. They are often on sale because no one but me ever buys them! I have one I like (Actually 2 CDs) titled, The 50 Greatest Songs of Christmas. Each song lists the group that performs it, which is a good way to avoid fake elevator-music type CDs. It has a mix of secular and sacred type Christmas music.
I always bring out Handel's Messiah around this time of year too. It works for both Christmas and Easter. Can't forget the old favorite, The Nutcracker Suite. A very motivating, dance-around-the-room type CD!
Another great CD is Manheim Steamroller, A Fresh Aire Christmas. They have many favorites, including, In dulci Jubilo, The Holly and the Ivy, and my favorite, Lo How a Rose E're Blooming.
Something I love to hear but don't have on CD are Lessons and Carols. It is one thing that the Anglicans do that I think is worth borrowing. It is either done as an Advent Lessons and Carols (in which case you have to find a bunch of *Advent* songs--not easy) or Christmas Lessons and Carols. Each carol is interspersed with a Scripture reading.
The public radio stations like to play it, often on Christmas Eve Day, and I LOVE to hear it! I really need to see if I can find it on CD. As a former choir member, I love to see what songs they will find to sing. This a quite a challenge for any choral leader and is hard work to put together!
Enjoy the music of the Season!