While finding the true meaning of Christmas in scripted TV shows and movies is a challenge, music specials almost invariably include traditional carols and other sacred songs -- even if they're sprinkled among large helpings of secular holiday tunes.
Here are some specials -- some available now and others in the near future -- that manage, at least in part, to keep Christ in Christmas.
(All times Eastern.)
Christmas Under the Stars (BYUtv)
This year, the cablenet's annual holiday musical showcase features the a cappella group Pentatonix, which has made a cottage industry out of lush, innovative vocal arrangements of both sacred and secular Christmas music.
The special premiered Dec. 5, but, as this video says, you can stream it free from BYUtv.org or via the BYUtv app on your smart device.
CMA Country Christmas Special (Hulu)
Originally aired on ABC and now available to stream on Hulu, this 12th annual celebration features first-time hosts Gabby Barrett, who performs Silent Night, and Carly Pierce, who does O Holy Night.
There's plenty of secular songs, too, but with country, you're always going to get a little Jesus with your Santa and sleigh bells.
If you don't have Hulu, the special will encore on ABC on Thursday, Dec. 23, at 10 p.m.
20 Years of Christmas With the Tabernacle Choir (PBS)
Obviously, last year, the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra couldn't hold its annual gala concert at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah (last year's concert usually becomes this year's special).
But, fortunately, this year is also the 20th anniversary of the event, so the 2021 PBS special is a two-hour retrospective.
Guest artist and narrator Brian Stokes Mitchell introduces past performances from such artists as Kristin Chenoweth, Audra McDonald, Gladys Knight, the Muppets and Richard Thomas.
The special premiered Monday, Dec. 13, but encores on Christmas Eve at 9 p.m.
It also airs on BYUtv, starting on Dec. 16 at 9 p.m. More details on dates and streaming here.
Christmas at Belmont (PBS)
Belmont University, a private Christian institution in Nashville, Tennessee, marks the 19th consecutive year that its annual holiday program airs on PBS.
Taped at the school's new, 1,700-seat Fisher Center for the Performing arts, the special features 650 students performing secular and sacred Christmas favorites.
It premieres on Monday, Dec. 20, at 9 p.m. (check local listings). More info here.
In Performance at the White House: Spirit of the Season (PBS)
Taped over several nights in different areas of the White House, this year's edition of the annual event features host Jennifer Garner, singing groups composed of military members and nurses, along with Cuban singer Camila Cabello, Pose star Billy Porter, the Jonas Brothers, Norah Jones, singer/songwriter Eric Church, and, again, Pentatonix.
Also on hand is superstar tenor Andrea Bocelli, performing with his nine-year-old daughter Virginia and 24-year-old son Matteo.
Bocelli sings Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah with Virginia, and O Holy Night with Matteo.
Now, Hallelujah has some adult-themed verses that might not seem to be suitable for a child to sing.
But, the last time the duo performed the song -- in a 2020 Christmas special -- Virginia sang the first verse, with its reference to King David, and joined her father for the choruses.
He sang the racier verses in Italian, switching back to English for the non-racy last verse. Nonetheless, it's a gorgeous melody.
Judge for yourself whether Bocelli pulled it off:
The special premieres Dec 21 at 8 p.m. (check local listings). More info here.
The program will also be broadcast at a later date via the American Forces Network to American service members and civilians at U.S. Department of Defense locations around the world.
Midnight Mass From the Vatican (NBC/EWTN)
As it has for decades, NBC will broadcast Midnight Mass from St. Peter's Basilica on Christmas Eve at 11:35 p.m., featuring glorious sacred music from the heart of the Church.
Obviously, this is a taped presentation of the actual Midnight Mass, which begins in Rome at 1:30 p.m. (Eastern time, not Rome time). If you don't want to stay up late for NBC's version, you can watch it live on EWTN (cable or streaming for free via EWTN.com).
Click here for more details on EWTN's Christmas offerings.
Image: Aaron Cornia/BYU Broadcasting© 2021 BYU Broadcasting. All rights reserved.
Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Content Manager at Family Theater Productions.