Having just posted a rather stern criticism of "Christmas Shoes," I feel obligated to point readers to worthwhile Christmas music. Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God is excellent. It walks through the story of Jesus, beginning in the Old Testament, where his coming is foreshadowed in various ways. The songs are well-written and are crafted into an album that is a remarkably unified whole. It is one of the few Christmas albums I really enjoy.
One of the things I love about this album is the fact that I don't have to "feel" it to appreciate it. For example, my favorite song on the album is "Labor of Love," which Jill Phillips performs:
The first time I heard it, I cried like a little girl. This weekend I saw it live again (they do a Christmas tour every year, culminating in a show in the Ryman in Nashville) and, having heard it countless times (a few live), I didn't shed a tear. But that didn't change my ability to appreciate both the story the song tells and the beauty of the song telling it. A sure sign of an emotionally manipulative song is that when you stop "feeling" it, you lose interest. But "Labor of Love" is still beautiful, even when it doesn't stir my emotions in quite the same way that it did when I first heard it.
You can listen to the album here, though the quality isn't great on the player (all the more reason to buy it!). I also highly recommend seeing it played live on next year's Christmas tour. Going to the show at the Ryman has become a Christmas tradition for my family and there is no live show I would recommend more highly.