If I had to pick a favorite Christmas CD, I’d go with Sinatra’s Jolly Christmas. This classic was recorded during his 1950s peak.

Sinatra’s version of Jingle Bells is the definitive one. The harmless if childish ditty just never sounds the same once you hear Frank’s version. Judy Garland did the definitive Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, but Frank’s comes close. Then there’s one of my favorite (secular) songs, the splendid Christmas Waltz. Frank does two versions. The Nelson Riddle arrangement is OK, but the Gordon Jenkins effort is sublime. It’s one of the few times an arranger ever bested Mr. Riddle.

Perhaps most surprising about Jolly Christmas is just how good the sacred songs are. Oft-heard hymns like The First Noel and O Little Town of Bethlehem are moving and dignified. The arrangements are fantastic.

What’s your favorite Christmas CD?