At the risk of restating the obvious, let it be said once more -- Nat "King" Cole has a magical voice, adaptable to the ruminations of a Jazz trio, the brassy sass of a Big Band or the celestial delights of a string orchestra. THE CHRISTMAS SONG -- Capitol's CD reissue of Cole's 1961 arrangements (conducted by Ralph Carmichael) -- features the singer's warm baritone set to orchestra and chorus. For all intents-and-purposes, the songs themselves are a stunning listen -- diciplined, personal and romantic.
This reissue features the standard 1961 version of Cole's timeless "The Christmas Story" (written by Mel Torme and Bob Wells); Cole did three other versions prior to the Carmichael take, going as far back as 1946 (the first without a string section). These three versions have not been the reissue standard since '61. However, two other renderings are represented on this CD:  another stale cut-n-paste duet with daughter Natelie (MOR radio has Hallmark to thank) and  a hidden bonus version, more piano-based, featuring only a small string section (likely the second 1946 version, which was the first "Christmas Song" to chart). In other good news, there's also first-to-CD versions of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "O' Come All Ye Faithful" (the latter of which is worth the price of admission alone), plus two King Cole spoken greetings.
My feeling is that no serious music collection should be without a compilation of Nat "King" Cole's Holiday classic. I'm biased, of course, because Cole is my favorite singer, but the music stands on it own as timeless. There are many Christmas-themed CDs available from this artist, but this is as good as any, if not the top so far.