Sony/Provident collects old and new(er) material to deliver a package of Christmas cheer for your Christmas preparations, or as a gift of the news of Jesus’ birth. Either way, it will lift a heart, calm a fear, or just bring a smile to someone’s face. Isn’t that what Christmas is about after all?
Third Day’s “Angels We Have Heard On High” leads off, and there’s excellence in combining standard Christmas hymns with the gravelly voice of Mac Powell. If you haven’t heard the whole Third Day Christmas album, Christmas Offerings, then that should be on your “must buy” list this holiday season. Considering what they had to follow, Tenth Avenue North’s “Go Tell It On The Mountain” requites itself well, and serves as easily my favorite TAN song yet!
Speaking of favorites, Revive’s “The First Noel” is potentially my favorite Revive song AND my favorite version of that particular Christmas hymn. It’s not usually one I’d call my favorite, but these new-to-the-scene guys have made some sweet music here that you can sing along with, too. I always expect that of Matt Maher, because he’s a worship leader by nature, but “Silent Night (Emmanuel),” a mash-up of “Silent Night” and “O Come O Come Emmanuel” is a serious treat on the album. Another newer artist, Brandon Heath, drops one of two “non-hymns,” “The Night Before Christmas,” but it’s not the story you’re thinking of. Instead, it’s about the impact of Christmas on lives in need of miracles.
After a somewhat disappointing “O Holy Night” by Kerrie Roberts, Casting Crowns roars back with “Joy To The World” from Peace On Earth, another righteous Christmas album that everyone should hear. Somehow, they make this one sound like a triumphant battle cry that echoes even after the last cymbal shake has long since reverberated. A new recording of “Whose Child Is This?” might make the traditionalists shake their heads, but I’m thinking that there’s still hope for Building 429 with this rocking version. I like the song the way that it is, but this one does it up well.
I’ve never heard of Anthem Lights, but they sneak in with a quiet, piano-driven version of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” It’s a bit different but nonetheless beautiful. I’m not quite sure what I think of it, but it’s definitely nice to bring some “new blood” into the mix with these other more “senior” bands. Not everyone has an orchestra backing them up, but not everyone is Michael W. Smith; his is the oldest song on here but it’s fitting that he gets on here. They’ve definitely mellowed things out here with Smith, but the last two songs by Jars of Clay and Rebecca St. James are happy to oblige as well.