Have you heard? Sufjan Stevens has a new release.

Someone asked me why I hadn’t blogged yet about the new Sufjan Stevens release, and my answer is, um, well, I’ve been too busy listening to it.

In fact, Sufjan doesn’t just have one new volume of material… no, he has FIVE new volumes of material. And they’re all Christmas albums.

They’re new, that is, to those who haven’t been tuning in through his fan club over the last few years. I’ve been listening to the first three volumes for a while now. But at last, they’re packaged up with some new recordings, and they’re a delightful holiday collection.

Having said that, do not expect these to sound like the carefully polished, visionary work that made Illinois the favorite album of many critics in 2005. It’s actually quite a casual performance of holiday standards and a few quirky originals. There are a few tracks that make me stop what I’m doing to bask in the light of reverent worship, but most of the time this sounds like musicians from a church youth group getting together to play through their favorites.

So, as I said, it’s a delightful collection, one that you’ll enjoy pulling out during the holiday season and playing in the background during family gatherings. But don’t expect it to blow you away like a proper Stevens’ release. It’s just not that kind of performance. It is exactly what the cover claims… a singalong.

Here’s the track listing:

Noel: Songs for Christmas, Vol. I (recorded December 2001)
1. Silent Night
2. O Come O Come Emmanuel
3. We’re Goin’ To the Country! *
4. Lo How A Rose E’er Blooming
5. It’s Christmas! Let’s Be Glad! *
6. Holy Holy, etc.
7. Amazing Grace

Hark!: Songs for Christmas, Vol. II (recorded December 2002)
1. Angels We Have Heard on High
2. Put the Lights on the Tree *
3. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
4. I Saw Three Ships
5. Only at Christmas Time *
6. Once in Royal David’s City
7. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!
8. What Child Is This Anyway?
9. Bring A Torch, Jeanette, Isabella

Ding! Dong!: Songs for Christmas, Vol. III (recorded December 2003)
1. O Come, O Come Emmanuel
2. Come on! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance! *
3. We Three Kings
4. O Holy Night
5. That Was the Worst Christmas Ever! *
6. Ding! Dong! *
7. All the King’s Horns *
8. The Friendly Beasts

Joy: Songs for Christmas, Vol. IV (recorded December 2005)
1. The Little Drummer Boy
2. Away In A Manger
3. Hey Guys! It’s Christmas Time! *
4. The First Noel
5. Did I Make You Cry On Christmas Day? (Well, You Deserved It!) *
6. The Incarnation *
7. Joy To The World

Peace: Songs for Christmas, Vol. V (recorded June 2006)
1. Once in Royal David’s City
2. Get Behind Me, Santa! *
3. Jingle Bells
4. Christmas in July *
5. Lo! How A Rose E’er Blooming
6. Jupiter Winter *
7. Sister Winter *
8. O Come O Come Emmanuel
9. Star of Wonder *
10. Holy, Holy, Holy
11. The Winter Solstice *

* denotes original songs by Sufjan Stevens © 2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” called Through a Screen Darkly, and a four-volume series of fantasy novels called The Auralia Thread, which includes Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast. Jeffrey is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, and he writes about art, faith, and culture for Image, Filmwell, and his own website, LookingCloser.org. His work has also appeared in Paste, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today (where he was a film columnist and critic for almost a decade). He lives in Shoreline, Washington. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/jeffreyoverstreethq.

  • M. Cruz

    I listened to an interview with her on NPR the other day and decided I must buy this! (Just to hear her singing with Emmylou Harris is worth the price!)

  • Josh Hurst
  • A M Hildebrandt

    I have been in love with his first three for a while now, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing was used for my wedding clip show.

    And since they let you listen to all five on his website I am blown away. Sister Winter is incredible, and “Did I make you Cry” is as sad and beautiful as “That Was the Worst Christmas Ever”

    For the price it is and what you get I think it is absolutely worth it:

    Five individually packaged CD EPs!
    • Five Christmas stickers!
    • Extensive liner notes and short stories by Sufjan Stevens!
    • An original Christmas essay by Rick Moody!
    • An animated music video and comic strip by Tom Eaton!
    • A Christmas Songbook with lyric sheets and chord charts–so you can sing along too!
    • An original Christmas Family Portrait painting of Santa Sufjan (with wife and kids!) by Jacques Bredy!

  • Gene Branaman

    For the life of me, I can’t understand why more artists don’t record Bring A Torch, Jeanette, Isabella. I saw Nickel Creek play it last December at a show & it was exquisite. Simply a beautiful song.

    But try finding a decent recorded version that’s not instrumental. Very difficult.

  • Anonymous

    well..volume 4 and 5 are really proper and is high material. These discs are from 2005 and 2006. You hear the quality. Songs like Did i make you cry…and away in a manger, and sister winter are awesome!

  • Nate Loucks

    I, too, have had the first three releases for a while and thought to myself, “Do I want to buy this album for the remaining tracks that I don’t own?” I pondered and thought. Then pondered and thought some more. UNTIL… I read this post and your excitement for the two parts that I don’t have and finally made up my mind.

    This weekend, I will buy it.


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