Silent Night Bracket Released

As any bracketologist will tell you, a good bracket looks at more than just the particular merits of any one entry. Also up for consideration is the entire body of work of the artist, the artist’s place in the pantheon of music history…and outsiders always speculate and wonder if the committee also looks at down the road matchups as they adjust seeding up or down.

The committee now has a year of experience under his belt, and has learned a few things. We now release to you the final bracket for “Silent Night”–please get your votes in by Sunday evening, 6 pm PST. UPDATE: Voting extended until Tuesday Dec. 9 at 7 pm PST!!

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Earning the #1 seed is relative unknown Chanticleer, nominated by David Sherwood. The classic “Silent Night” of course began as “Stille Nacht”, written in German by Franz Gruber (UPDATE: music written by Gruber, German lyrics by Joseph Mohr, as friend Robin MOHR let me know) in 1818. Famously (or apocryphally?), the organ was out of commission, and the simple, almost lullaby-like hymn was written for voice and guitar. It felt only right to have a beautiful version which used the original German as the number 1 seed.

Emerging from the play-in round, challenger Desert Hills Concert Choir earns the #16 seed, nominated by Heidi Tschan. Take a listen and then cast your vote:


In the #8 and #9 slot, we have a battle between exceptional crooners. Robin Mohr nominated the man synonymous with Christmas for so many in America, Bing Crosby. Serious consideration was given to Bing being a #1 seed for his place in American culture. However, the judicious use of the Boys Choir and the too-liberal use of high “ooohs” in the arrangement pushed him down to here.

Facing Bing is today’s outstanding voice, Josh Groban, nominated by Sara Kelm.


Coming in at #5 is the brand new release from crowd favorite Pentatonix, recorded live in a wonderfully echo-ey cathedral, and nominated by Doreen Fertello and Jennifer Perez. This arrangement is intricate and varied…yet also strays away from the traditional melody in the second half.

They face the all-too-frequent upset seed, #12…which is filled by Mannheim Steamroller, also nominated by Jennifer Perez. This…this one brings back memories for me, as this album spun often at the Koskela home I grew up in.


In the final game in the upper half of the bracket, I want everyone to note that I have gone against every fiber of my moral being and have capitulated to you strange groupies who love The Muppets. I am giving them the #4 seed, so no one (Melanie) can complain.

They will face #13 seed Russ Taff, nominated by my bride. This track comes from the second CD Elaine and I ever bought as a married couple, the Christian All Star laden “Our Christmas”. Russ gives a soulful performance here, and was sweet solace for us young newlyweds when we couldn’t afford a real Christmas tree in Southern California and had to make do with a tiny fake one back in 1990. (Plus this youtube video fits what Robin noticed last year-Evangelicals have a thing for horrifically cheesy powerpoint.)


In all honesty, I tried my best to avoid the next matchup, because it puts the nominations of my two biggest yellers and critics against one another. The #6 seed goes to Over the Rhine, nominated both by Bethany Bylsma and Martha Wood. Now, as I learned on my Facebook page amidst being yelled at, there are two versions of Silent Night on the Over the Rhine album. SO BE SURE YOU LISTEN TO TRACK #10. That’s the one up for nomination.

Facing them will be #11 seed Sufjan Stevens, whom J Rourke must be incredibly pleased to discover actually won a voting matchup! (Albeit a play-in game, but still, first time for everything).


Earning a strong #3 seed is a nomination from our daughter Natalie, studying this semester in South Africa. She got the chance to hear the Drakensberg Boys Choir in person, and nominated their exceptional blend for the bracket. (The only free version I could find was on Spotify, so you will have to create a free account to listen to this if you don’t already have a Spotify account. “Stille Nacht” is way down at the bottom.)

They face another “personal” nomination from Janni Baugh, who knows the people who form the duet of #14 seed The Luminous Grey. (And they, too, are only on Spotify.)


The very tough #7-#10 matchup is between Martha Wood’s nomination Pricilla Ahn in the seven slot, and Twila Tschan’s Latin-infused selection Mary J. Blige and Marc Anthony at number ten. I actually like both of these a lot, and will have trouble voting for just one.


Finally, the last matchup. Again, I am bowing to the groundswell of Christmas nostalgia that is Amy Grant, and giving Elizabeth Rogers Curtis Gemeroy’s nomination a #2 seed. I will confess that Amy’s 1984 original Christmas Album tugs at my heartstrings each Christmas. But I will also say that Amy can be…boring. And I gotta be honest. For me, this one is exactly that.

Amy faces #15 seed Simon & Garfunkel. For me, I wonder if this one will be the little engine that could. The arrangement juxtaposes the soothing folk of S & G singing the peaceful lyrics with the jarring headlines of the 1970’s evening news. This is also a Bethany Bylsma nomination.


Thank you all for the nominations! Now, let’s tip off the games. Listen to the links and make your votes by Sunday evening, 6 pm PST. UPDATE: Voting extended until Tuesday Dec. 9 at 7 pm PST!!

3 thoughts on “Silent Night Bracket Released

  1. So first off, I think that we should all just give up and sweep Chanticleer in for the win right now.
    Secondly, the music was written by Franz Gruber, but the WORDS were written by Joseph MOHR.
    Third, while I like Sufjan all right, his fan’s psychodelic videos give the Evangelicals a run for the cheesy award.
    And last, all my Spotify account holders went to bed already, so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to listen to those.

    Thanks for playing!


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