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Songs of the Season: A Playlist for Yule

in Music, Wheel of the Year, Yule

Yule CDsListening to music (and singing along with it) is one of the most important ways that I align myself with the rhythm and deeper meaning of the season. I especially love to listen to seasonal music while I’m creating art. So I made up a playlist of some of my favorite winter songs. Most celebrate Yuletide, but others are meditations on winter. A couple are sad. A few honor the Crones of Winter. Together, they put me in just the right wintry mood.

I’d love to know what your favorite Yuletide songs are.  Please share yours in the comments!

(Oh and yep, I make no apologies for sharing songs from the album Midwinter Moon, recorded by my mermaid sister Julianne Marx and my guy, Craig Olson. What can I say? I’m their biggest fan.)

Glorious by Melissa EtheridgeGlorious by Melissa Etheridge

Lady Greensleeves by Julianne Marx and Craig Olson

The Year Is Born Anew by Jaiya The Longest Night of the Year by Mary Chapin Carpenter Gaia’s Lullaby by Jaiya Time is a Little Girl by Radcliffe, Ekstrom & Simpson Song for a Winter’s Night by Sarah McLachlan Invocation to Mother Holle by Ruth Barrett

Kolyada, Old One by Radcliffe, Ekstrom & Simpson

Rozanitsa by Julianne Marx and Craig Olson

Yule is Come by Jaiya

Hot Buttered Rum by Mary Chapin Carpenter One Small Candle / Beautiful Darkness by Radcliffe, Ekstrom & Simpson

To Drive the Cold Winter Away by Julianne Marx and Craig Olson

Winter Song by Sara Bareilles (with Ingrid Michaelson) Come Darkness, Come Light by Mary Chapin Carpenter Midwinter Moon

Solstice Night by Julianne Marx and Craig Olson

Bells Are Ringing by Mary Chapin Carpenter Winter Wedding Medley by Radcliffe, Ekstrom & Simpson

In the Bleak Midwinter by Julianne Marx and Craig Olson


(Some of the links are affiliate links to Amazon, but that’s just so you can hear a clip of each song.)

(Have you had a chance to check out my new offering, Gaian Soul Practices for Midwinter? There is already a circle of lovely souls gathering to dive deep with creativity, contemplation and connection this holiday season. We’d love to have you join us.  Blessings.)

Thoughtful, sparkling comments. . .

  • Joanna Thu - Dec 01st 2011 5:46 pm

    And a couple of suggestions coming in from Twitter:

    Here Comes the Sun by Richie Havens (yes!)
    Miracle by Matisyahu (excellent! Thanks Ketzirah Carly!)

  • Shari Thu - Dec 01st 2011 8:40 pm

    Well I tried my holiday station on Pandora.. nope not yet ready so I’m jazzing it up a bit yet. Looks to be some good ones here I’ll have to take a look through your list when I am 😉

  • Lu Fri - Dec 02nd 2011 2:26 am

    “The Rebel Jesus” as sung by Jackson Browne on The Chieftains’ album, “Bells of Dublin,” has special resonance this year:

    All the streets are filled with laughter and light
    And the music of the season
    And the merchants’ windows are all bright
    With the faces of the children
    And the families hurrying to their homes
    As the sky darkens and freezes
    They’ll be gathering around the hearths and tales
    Giving thanks for all god’s graces
    And the birth of the rebel Jesus
    Well they call him by the prince of peace
    And they call him by the savior
    And they pray to him upon the seas
    And in every bold endeavor
    As they fill his churches with their pride and gold
    And their faith in him increases
    But they’ve turned the nature that I worshipped in
    From a temple to a robber’s den
    In the words of the rebel Jesus
    We guard our world with locks and guns
    And we guard our fine possessions
    And once a year when christmas comes
    We give to our relations
    And perhaps we give a little to the poor
    If the generosity should seize us
    But if any one of us should interfere
    In the business of why they are poor
    They get the same as the rebel Jesus
    But please forgive me if I seem
    To take the tone of judgment
    For I’ve no wish to come between
    This day and your enjoyment
    In this life of hardship and of earthly toil
    We have need for anything that frees us
    So I bid you pleasure
    And I bid you cheer
    From a heathen and a pagan
    On the side of the rebel Jesus.

  • Gary Fri - Dec 02nd 2011 6:34 am

    All of Loreena McKennitt’s three Christmas albums are gorgeous. Also, give a listen to The Mediaevel Baebes’ album Mistletoe & Wine, very earthy, very tasty.

  • Joanna Fri - Dec 02nd 2011 7:13 am

    Shari, looking forward to hearing what you discover on Pandora. (Last year I think I had 4 or 5 holiday sessions in different genres set on there.) Lu, nice one, thank you! Gary, I do have all of Loreena McKennitt’s albums but was not able to link to individual songs. And while I love the sound of those albums, I sometimes stumble over the traditional, Christian lyrics that she sings. Still, for atmosphere, you can never go wrong with Loreena. Off to check out the Mistletoe & WIne album, thank you!!

  • Ruth Fri - Dec 02nd 2011 8:36 am

    I love Light a Light from Melissa Etheridge’s album.

    Also, Heather Dale’s CD This Endris Night. ( I can’t remember how many different languages she sings in on this one but not understanding the language does help me enjoy the music that much more. 🙂

    • Joanna Sat - Dec 03rd 2011 5:24 am

      Wonderful, thanks Ruth! Will go check them out.

  • Shonna Fri - Dec 02nd 2011 10:40 am

    Hi Joanna,

    This looks like a great playlist. Have you considered uploading these songs to a site like so you could share the mix in it’s entirety? That would be lovely!

    • Joanna Sat - Dec 03rd 2011 5:25 am

      I have not thought about that Shonna – was not aware of — lots of suggestions are coming in via Facebook. Maybe I can gather and collate all of them and make a playlist mix. Thanks for the idea!

  • paganmama Sun - Dec 04th 2011 8:02 am

    My Yule playlist contains most songs and albums already mentioned (I love Loreena McKennitt and the Mediaeval Babes), and I never get tired of it!

    Others (all of these have a Pagan flavor for me and suit the quiet feeling of the season):

    I love “here comes the sun” performed by Nina Simone. George Winstons’s “December” album. Dar Williams, “The Christians and the Pagans.” Eartha Kitt singing “Santa Baby.” John Gorka singing “Christmas Bells.” Joni Mitchell, “River.” “Fairytale of New York,” the Pogues. “Winter,” Tori Amos (and some of the pagany songs off her “Midwinter Graces” album). “Winter Ballad,” Dave Brubreck. “What are you doing New Years Eve?” sung by Ella Fitzgerald. “Cherry Tree Carol” sung by Colin Meloy. “Christmas Morning,” Lyle Lovett. “The Holly and the Ivy” sung by Mary Sansone (off an old Putamayo Christmas cd).

    • Joanna Sun - Dec 04th 2011 8:16 am

      Oh wonderful, Sara. Looking forward to checking these out, thank you!

  • Seanara Sun - Dec 04th 2011 8:19 pm

    Just to add some of my favorite Yule songs to the mix…

    — “Ring Out Solstice Bells” by Jethro Tull
    — “Bring Back The Light” by Gypsy
    — “Light One Candle” by Peter, Paul and Mary (this is actually a Chanukah song, not a Yule song, but it is seasonal and inspiring)
    — “On Midwinter’s Day” by Damh the Bard
    — “Lord of the Dance” by Coyote Run (this is a Pagan version)
    — “Yule Song” by Ian Corrigan (Corrigan, a Pagan musician, recorded this on cassette tape decades ago. I am not sure if it’s available on CD)
    — “Gaudete” by Steeleye Span (and I wish someone would write Pagan lyrics to this one)
    — “Christmas In The Trenches/Silent Night” by Coyote Run
    — “The Christians and the Pagans” by Dar Williams

  • Danielle Tue - Dec 06th 2011 8:19 am

    I know it’s not very Pagan, but I just love listening to (and singing) Handel’s Messiah this time of year! Maybe it is because the music and lyrics are so passionate, and maybe I’m just biased from singing in a choir for so many years, but it always moves me to tears.

    The Hallelujah Chorus is one of my favorites, because I’ve sung it so often. “For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” is about as far from Pagan ideals as you can get, but it is still very moving for me.

    Another well known song from the Messiah that is perhaps more easily adapted to Pagan lyrics would be For Unto us a Child is Born (The Prince of Peace). Especially the following lyrics:

    “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. And the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful. Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”

    It is so easy to sing “unto us THE SUN is given” on sunrise of Solstice morning! And isn’t it truly wonderful to see the sun again? Does it not bring in a season of peace? It might not have been what Handel intended, but it is so appropriate!

  • Shari Tue - Dec 06th 2011 5:09 pm

    Well I’m starting to get into the swing. I received my $5 album list from Amazon and there were some Christmas album. After listening to Dean Martin, I’m in the mood . My mom always played music. Especially during the holiday season, and he was her favorite so I guess now I just need a little Dean’o to put me in the right head space. Off to check out some of those mentioned, and I love the idea of 8tracks. Although because there is a band called Winter Solstice I wasn’t able to find anything on there.

  • Joanna Wed - Dec 07th 2011 6:30 am

    Woo hoo! Thanks for all the suggestions. A lot more came in through Facebook. I’m looking forward to sorting through them all and giving a listen. Brightest Solstice Blessings to you all!

  • deb lyon Thu - Dec 08th 2011 11:06 am

    Wow! I am so glad i found this website & cannot wait for more!!!

  • paganmama Thu - Dec 08th 2011 6:36 pm

    Here are some more I’ve found in the days since.

    “The Snow It Melts the Soonest” by Sting on his album “If On A Winter’s Night”–it’s probably worth checking out the whole album, but this old English song jumped out as a favorite.

    An album called “American Noel,” songs by the late Dave Carter and vocals by Tracy Grammer. Christmasy, but I like their versions of “Lo How A Rose” (which I take to be a Goddess carol) and “The Ditchling Carol.”

    A folksy compilation album called “Wonderland: A Winter Solstice Celebration.” Love the Nields.

    Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma doing “The Wexford Carol” (not Pagan, but so pretty).