Holiday Music Countdown: Number 1, let heaven and nature sing

Merry Christmas! My musical advent calendar is at its end; here at last is my favorite holiday song.

1. Joy to the World (Whitney Houston and the Georgia Mass Choir)

I love a good gospel choir. And I’m as susceptible as anyone to the "money note" moment of a modern pop song — you know, the moment when the key changes and the singer hits that big, top note, and you get a shiver down your spine? Think of Whitney Houston’s version of "I Will Always Love You" and the key change at 3:09, and you’ll know what I mean.

Ms. Houston is the queen of the money note, and she uses it to great effect in "Joy to the World," recorded for the soundtrack to The Preacher’s Wife. She also does a little scat-style bit, and she plays off the excellent singing of the choir. Altogether, they transform the classic, stodgy carol into an expression of exhilaration and joy.

There’s no video for the song, but you can at least hear it on this YouTube clip.

I wish to you and yours a joyful, peaceful holiday. Merry Christmas!