Archive | —Christmas

Christmas Services

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Prepare Him Room Releases Today!

In June of 2013 I received an email from my friend, Marty Machowski. Marty serves on the pastoral team of Covenant Fellowship Church, a Sovereign Grace Church near Philadelphia. He has writes children’s books and devotionals, most notably The Gospel Story Bible. Marty asked me if Sovereign Grace Music wanted to produce an album to accompany an Advent devotional and curriculum he had written for New Growth Press. I was instantly intrigued by the idea. Our first and only Christmas album, Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man, came out in 2006 and I thought we were long overdue for another Christmas project. Marty’s devotional had …

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The Unbelievable – Acoustic Preview

This coming Monday, Sept. 29, our second Christmas album, Prepare Him Room, is coming out. And we’re pretty excited. I’ve been breaking all my rules for “no Christmas music before Thanksgiving” and loving it. In preparation for the album, we’ve put together four acoustic videos to preview some of the songs. They aren’t the versions that went on the album, but they give you an idea of what to expect. The Unbelievable is the fourth video we recorded, written by my good friends Steve and Vikki Cook. We’re so familiar with nativities, carols, and the Christmas story, that we often lose the sense of awe, wonder, and amazement that the incarnation …

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Prepare Him Room – A Video Preview

This is the third video we put together in anticipation of our upcoming Christmas album, Prepare Him Room: Celebrating the Birth of Jesus in Song, due out Sept. 29. It’s the title track, Prepare Him Room, and was written by Rebecca Elliott and Dave Fournier. They started it at our songwriter retreat back in January and after a number of revisions came up with the current version. The lyrics are loosely based on Luke 2:25-35, where Simeon meets the newborn Christ. The last line added to the song was this one in vs. 3: “Through the cradle, cross, and grave see the love of God displayed.” I love the way it succinctly brings together the significance …

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He Who is Mighty – Video Preview

I know it’s a little early to be talking about Christmas songs, but the last few weeks I’ve been listening to the tracks of our upcoming album, Prepare Him Room. I am so excited for you to hear these songs. We’ll be releasing the digital album on Sept 29 (not Sept 1 as I previously wrote) and the physical CD at the same time. As I explained in an earlier post, this album came about through the request of my good friend, Marty Machowski. He had written an Advent curriculum and devotional, Prepare Him Room, and wondered if we wanted to record an album to accompany it. We were more than happy to do so. In anticipation of the full release …

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Who Would Have Dreamed – Christmas Album Preview

We released our first Christmas album, Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man, in 2006. A few years ago I started thinking we should do another one. After all, we can never have too many songs that help us reflect on and celebrate the wonder of Jesus becoming Emmanuel, God with us. So I was intrigued last fall when my good friend, Marty Machowski, asked if Sovereign Grace Music would be interested in producing a Christmas album to accompany an Advent curriculum he had written. After a few conversations with Marty and his publisher, New Growth Press, we decided it would be a great opportunity. The result was our next album, …

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From the Archives: Sentimentalizing, Sanitizing, and Spiritualizing Christmas

  It’s difficult, if not impossible, to overstate the significance of the Incarnation. Writers, philosophers, poets, and composers through the centuries have searched in vain for words that adequately capture the wonder, mystery, beauty, and power of Jesus as Emmanuel, God with us. The miracle and meaning of the Incarnation can be so difficult to grasp that we can give up and start to view Christmas in ways that leave us impoverished and unimpressed with the real story. Even in the church our songs and reflections about about Christmas can fail to leave people gasping in amazement or humbled in awe that God would come to dwell …

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Sentimentalizing, Sanitizing, and Spiritualizing Christmas

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to overstate the significance of the Incarnation. Writers, philosophers, poets, and composers through the centuries have searched in vain for words that adequately capture the wonder, mystery, beauty, and power of Jesus as Emmanuel, God with us. The miracle and meaning of the Incarnation can be so difficult to grasp that we can give up and start to view Christmas in ways that leave us impoverished and unimpressed with the real story. Even in the church our songs and reflections about about Christmas can fail to leave people gasping in amazement or humbled in awe that God would come to dwell among us. Sometimes …

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All the World Was Waiting

Okay, this is really old school, but I thought a few of you might enjoy this song I wrote and arranged for GLAD back in the 90s for their Voices of Christmas album. I tried to capture the reality that all of life is waiting until that final day when we will see our Savior’s face and will have to wait no more. Here are the lyrics: All the world was waiting for the promised One. Prophets through the ages claimed that He would come. Would He be a warrior, or a conquering king? Could he be the one who’d save us from our sin and suffering? All the world was waiting the night that you were born. God of life eternal, in a fragile form. Shepherds …

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Song for Advent: Shine Into our Night

Each year as Christmas approaches we have the opportunity to remember in a more focused and thoughtful way why Jesus had to come to earth. It wasn’t plan B, it wasn’t optional, and it certainly wasn’t something we asked for. Paul tells us, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Gal. 4:4-5) The phrase “under the law” means we were justly condemned as transgressors and rebels before God, held captive by our sin, and in need of His mercy and forgiveness (Rom. 3:19-20). Of course, God did better than …

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Joy – An Irish Christmas by Keith and Kristyn Getty

Keith and Kristyn Getty are a musically gifted couple that do a few things really well. Those things include providing the church with songs that are theologically thoughtful, Christ-exalting, and likely to last a long time. Now they’ve provided us with a new album, Joy – An Irish Christmas, that displays those attributes in the context of Christmas carols, both old and new. Keith reflects on why Christmas carols are more than just sentimental songs at the end of the year: We would do well as worship leaders to remember that non-churchgoers are far more inclined to attend a church service during the Christmas season where songs are easy …

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Christmas Mystery

Christmas Mystery He who forged Earth’s iron core And scattered stars to distant skies Came shattered beauty to restore And answer lost ones’ mournful cries. A God who stands among the weak To lift each burden that they face, To lift away their bondage bleak And give them strength in holy grace. The star of hope for all the years, Though spoken of through ages past, Lies born in dust and blood and tears Without His glorious trumpets’ blast. Yet in His tiny hand He holds The power that built the mountains high. His glory shatters earthly molds As angels’ voices split the sky. The angel heralds call out clear To tell us of …

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Twenty Six Years Ago…In the First Light

Twenty six years ago I wrote a song for a friend who was doing a custom album. She was looking for an “all season Christmas song.” I set about writing a song that would highlight what happened before and after the birth of Christ. The result was a song called In the First Light. At the time I had just gotten off the road with the group GLAD. My arrangements and melodies for GLAD were typically on the complicated side, so I intentionally tried to write a simple melody. Ironically, it became one of my most well known songs. It was the first of many times I’d learn complex doesn’t always mean better. Last year Travis Cottrell did a version …

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Spontaneous Song for Those Facing Impossible Situations

During the Christmas season, many people find themselves in the midst of impossibly difficult circumstances. They find out the hard way that pain and sorrow are no respecters of holidays. For these individuals, Christmas becomes the most terrible time of the year. Recently I ran across an insightful and hopeful post by Matt Redmond called “Christmas is for Those Who Hate it Most.” He writes, “We have it sunk deep into our collective cultural consciousness that Christmas is for the happy people. You know, those with idyllic family situations enjoyed around stocking-strewn hearth dreams.” Matt then goes on to remind us that Jesus came for those …

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Songs For Christmas 2010

With Christmas fast approaching, I’m sure a lot of us are digging through last year’s Christmas music trying to find something new for this year to add to the traditional carols. With that in mind, here are some albums and songs you might want to check out. Traditional Carols Praisecharts.com has many excellent contemporary arrangements for churches that want to incorporate choirs and orchestral instruments. Use this link. Hymncharts.com offers a similar service, where you can download choral and orchestral parts for many hymns. Wordmusicnow.com offers something similar. O, Holy Night – alt. verses by Kevin Hartnett. Kevin is a member …

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One Quiet Moment

A few years ago I wrote a Christmas song for GLAD (my previous musical life) that reflected on Joseph and Mary’s humble submission in accepting their part in God’s plan of salvation. Hard to imagine the difficulty of that decision. But so grateful to God that they responded. The music seems a little dated to me now, but the truth of the lyrics still affects me. At the end, you can listen to/download the song. One Quiet Moment One quiet moment, on a star-clustered night, Two weary travelers knew an end was in sight; So the soon-to-be mother, grasped her husband’s strong hand, And paused to remember where the journey began. Nine months …

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