Sacred Music for Christmas

Deal W. Hudson
December 5, 2014

At Christmas, music abounds. There is no other sacred day or holiday, so deeply intertwined with music.  If you are considering stretching your musical palette this Christmas, here is a list to choose from.  You may already know many of these pieces but you may not know the particular recordings I have recommended.

I’ve limited my choices to recordings that are presently available on CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, or digital downloads. This list is alphabetized, rather than listed in chronological order. This was necessary since recordings will often include several pieces composed years apart, perhaps much more.

sacred music

What I would call ‘Indispensable Sacred Music Recordings’ are marked with an ***.

1. Barber, Agnus Dei, The Esoterics (Naxos).
2. Bernstein, Mass, cond., Leonard Bernstein (Columbia).
3. Briggs, Mass for Notre Dame, cond., Stephen Layton (Hyperion).
4. Brubeck, To Hope! A Celebration, cond. Russell Gloyd (Telarc).
5. Bruckner, Motets, Choir of St. Mary’s Cathedral (Delphian).***
6. Byrd, Three Masses, cond., Peter Phillips (Gimell).
7. Burgon, Nunc Dimittis, cond., Richard Hickox (EMI Classics).
8. Celtic Christmas from Brittany, Ensemble Choral Du Bout Du Monde (Green Linnet)
9. Chant, Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos (Milan/Jade).
10. Charpentier, Te Deum in D, cond., Philip Ledger (EMI Classics).
11. Christmas, The Holly and the Ivy, cond., John Rutter (Decca).
12. Christmas, Christmas with Robert Shaw, cond., Robert Shaw (Vox).
13. Christmas, Cantate Domino, cond., Torsten Nilsson (Proprius).***
14. Christmas, Follow That Star, The Gents (Channel Classics).
15. Christmas in Harvard Square, Saint Paul’s Boys Choir (AimHigher).
16. Christmas: Moravian Christmas, Czech Philharmonic Choir (ArcoDiva)
17. Desprez, Ave Maris Stella Mass, cond., Andrew Parrott (EMI Reflexe).
18. Elgar, The Dream of Gerontius, cond. John Barbirolli (EMI Classics).***
19. Finzi, In Terra Pax, cond. Vernon Handley (Lyrita).
20. Gonoud, St. Cecilia Mass, cond. George Pretre (EMI Classics).
21. Gorecki, Beatus Vir & Totus Tuus, cond. John Nelson (Polygram).
22. Handel, Messiah, cond., by Nicholas McGegan (Harmonia Mundi)***
23. Haydn, Creation, cond., Neville Marriner (Phillips).
24. Haydn, Mass in Time of War, cond., Neville Marriner (EMI Classics).
25. Hildegard of Bingen, Feather on the Breath of God, Gothic Voices (Hyperion).
26. Howells, Hymnus Paradisi, cond., David Willocks (EMI Classics).***
27. Hymns, Amazing Grace: American Hymns and Spirituals, cond. Robert Shaw (Telarc).***
28. Lauridsen, Lux Aeterna & O Magnum Mysterium, cond. Stephen Layton (Hyperion).***
30. Liszt, Christus, cond., Helmut Rilling (Hannsler).
31. Liszt, The Legend of St. Elisabeth, cond., Arpad Joo (Hungaroton).
32. Morales, Magnificat, cond., Stephen Rice (Hyperion).
33. Palestrina, Canticum Canticorum, Les Voix Baroques (ATMA).
34. Palestrina, Missa Papae Marcelli, cond. Peter Phillips (Gimell).
35. Parsons, Ave Maria and other Sacred Music, cond., Andrew Carwood (Hyperion).
36. Poulenc, Gloria & Stabat Mater, cond., George Pretre (EMI Classics).
37. Respighi, Lauda Per La Nativita Del Signore, cond., Anders Eby Proprius).
38. Rheinberger, Sacred Choral Music, cond., Charles Bruffy (Chandos).
39. Rutter, Be Thou My Vision: Sacred Music, cond., John Rutter (Collegium).***
40. Saint Saens, Oratorio de Noel, cond., Anders Eby (Proprius).
41. Shapenote Carols, Tudor Choir (Loft Recordings)
42. Tallis, Spem in alium & Lamentations of Jeremiah, cond., David Hill (Hyperion).***
43. Vaughn Williams, Five Mystical Songs, cond., David Willcocks (EMI Classics).***
44. Vaughn Williams, Pilgrims Progress, cond., Adrian Boult (EMI Classics).***
45. Victoria, O Magnum Mysterium & Mass, cond., David Hill (Hyperion).***

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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