The latest print edition of Worship Leader Magazine features nine new Christmas releases for the 2015 season. Nine! Wow thatâ€™s a lot of content from some popular worship artists.
In this round-up Iâ€™ll share my brief thoughtsÂ of each projectÂ as a worship leader and service planner.Â AlsoÂ Iâ€™ll highlight some songs that I would recommend using for corporate worship and why.
[You may also be interested in my articles on “Planning Powerful Worship Sets”Â and 7 Strategic Guidelines For Choosing New Worship Songs” ]
OK, here we go … Â ho, ho, ho …Â
Â 1.Â Paul Baloche: â€œChristmas Worship Volume 2â€
This project is the gold standard and offers a tremendous bundle of free resources for worship planners. Â Paul arranges a variety of traditional Christmas hymns for a modern context and then combines them with his contemporary praise choruses. Musically they flow together seamlessly andÂ worshipfully. It’s story driven and God-centered. Buy it.
Check out videos of all the songs for free on Paul’sÂ Â Christmas Vol.2 Youtube Playlist.
WeAreWorship.com hasÂ a free download of all the chord charts,Â
There isÂ also has a complete set of free tutorial videosÂ for each song that shows how to play it, some background on the song story and an encouraging word from Paul.
- Joy To The World/ Our God Saves – nice folky, mellow arrangement.
- For Unto Us A Child Is Born/ Open The eyes of My Heart – LOVE THIS, probably my favorite mash-up of all. Brilliant to reviveÂ Handels recitative from the Messiah in a contemporary context, then the bridge just soars. Great song for the 2 slot, or anywhere in your set.
- Gloria – Great “new” Christmas song!
- Newborn King – Another great “new” Christmas song!
2.Â Chris Tomlin: â€œAdore: Christmas Songs of Worshipâ€
No one has impacted the worship repertoire over the last decade more than Chris Tomlin. His second Christmas project is again full of solid material for corporate worship.
You can check out all the songs for free on Tomlin’s Â Adore Youtube Playlist.
- He Shall Reign Forevermore – solid mid tempo praise anthem, good for the 3 slot.
- Adore – Slow worshipful ballad of adoration. Maybe use for communion if you observe it weekly. I would consider this song an “investment” and sing it at least 3 times during Advent so thatÂ it really connects on the Sunday before Christmas.
- Noel – good for “solo” special music, Christmas Eve service.
- It’s Christmas – this is a fun “party worship” song, use it for afterglow.
- A King Like This – solid worshipful song of response.
3) Keith and Kristyn Getty: â€œJoy -An Irish Christmas Liveâ€
Oh wow I loved this record! Buy it!
Fun, high energy, beautiful, world class musicianship and production. What’s there not to like about the joy of Christmas mashed up with a little Riverdance and Thistle and Shamrock thrown in?
You can buy the “Joy – An Irish Christmas” DVD here and see Keith & Kristyn Getty, joined by their band of virtuosos, Irish dancers, and a multi-generational choir, singing classic carols and original modern hymns. Fresh and lovely.
You can check out all the songs for free on GettyMusicÂ Â JoyÂ Youtube Playlist.
- Joy Has Dawned / Angels We Have Heard On HighÂ – Joy Has Dawned composed by Keith Getty & Stuart Townen is one of my favoriteÂ modern Christmas hymns.
- Hark The Herald Angels / Green Grass Reel
- Joy To The World
- Go Tell It On The Mountain
4. Kim Walker Smith: “When Christmas Comes”
This project might surprise fans of Kim Walker Smith, lead vocalist for Jesus Culture. Â This is more of a personal project with a lot of secular songs of the season included. It’s not the anthemic epic worship sound that people associateÂ with with Jesus Culture. That being duly noted, it’s creative and there are a few moments that could be useful in a corporate worship context.
Check out videos of all the songs for free on Kim’sÂ Â Christmas Youtube Playlist.
- Oh Holy Night – Her version is one of my favorites. Understated, awesome interpretation & a good key.
- Come All Ye Faithful – simple, slow, worshipful.
Â 5. A Jesus Church: â€œChrist is Born-EPâ€
There’s only four songs on this studio EP. But it’s very modern, atmospheric and – I just loved it. I’d be very interested to see how this works in their corporate worship context. Very cool.
Get the back story at their websiteÂ http://ajesuschurch.org/music/christ-is-born/
- Realms of Glory – this is a killer re-tune of “Angels From the Realm of Glory”. Love this!
- O Come Emmanuel
- Holy Holy Holy
6. Laura Story: â€œGod With Usâ€
This is a really cool record with great songs and production. Â Laura’s got a beautiful classic singer-songwriter voice and style.
You can check out all the songs for free on Lauraâ€™s Â Â God With Us Youtube Playlist.
- Love Is Here – great opening worship song for the season!
- Come Thou Long Expected Jesus – Recommended with one caveat, she slightly changes the melody at the end of the verse, I would prefer to stay true to the original “Hyfrydol”. The tag chorus is very appropriate.
- Behold The Lamb – good special music on Christmas Eve.
- O Come Emmanuel – very interesting choral arrangement.
7. Rend Collective: â€œCampfire Christmas, Volume 1â€
The Â Irish acoustic Christian hipster band brings attitude and energy to the holiday repertoire. Flaunt it if you got it.
Check out all the songs on their Â Rend Collective Youtube Playlist
- Hark The Herald Angels Sing (Glory in the Highest)
- Oh Come All Ye Faithful
- Oh Holy Night
8. Danny Gokey: â€œChristmas is Hereâ€
The American Idol alum has a phenomenal voice and charismatic personality. This record is predominatelyÂ secular songs with just a few suitable for worship.
Check out all the songs on his Â Christmas Is Here Youtube Playlist
- Lift Up My Eyes – this is my favorite, love the text. There’s a lot of productionÂ going on, so it would be tough to pull off.
- Honorable Mention: Danny’s blue-eyed-soul voice is just awesome on Mary Did You Know, Oh Holy Night, Give Me Jesus
Â 9. MercyMe, It’s Christmas!
The K-LUV radio darlings Christmas project is more secular than sacred and oh-so-commercialÂ , but there are a few church appropriate gems. There several cool medley ideas on “Newborn” and “Joy”, but they would require a lot of reworking for me to use them.
Check out all the songs onÂ MercyMe Youtube Playlist
- O COME,Â O COME – Love this vocal arrangement of O Come O Come Emmanuel based on the hymn tuneÂ O WALY WALY Â (traditional English melody)
- Go Tell It On The Mountain – fun rockabilly approach.
Â 10.Â Rob Still: â€œJOYFUL!: Christmas Praise and Worshipâ€
Now of course it might seem completely self-serving to include my own project in this list of luminaries. Â I originally arranged these for my youth worship teamÂ to play. Â So theÂ arrangements are simple and easy for the average worship musician. But after carefully listening to everything that’s out there, I think that I can genuinelyÂ recommend this project as a source of fun, easyÂ arrangements of these Christmas classics. Songbook with lead sheets, chord charts and lyruc sheet also available.
Get a free sample of the songs and charts here.Â
- Angels From The Realm of Glory
- Angels We Have Heard on High
- The First Noel
- Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Over To You
What Christmas projects are connecting with you?
What songs would you recommend?
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