The latest print edition of Worship Leader Magazine features nine new Christmas releases for the 2015 season. Nine! Wow that’s a lot of content from some popular worship artists.
In this round-up I’ll share my brief thoughts of each project as a worship leader and service planner. Also I’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” and 7 Strategic Guidelines For Choosing New Worship Songs” ]
OK, here we go … ho, ho, ho …
This project is the gold standard and offers a tremendous bundle of free resources for worship planners. 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 and worshipfully. It’s story driven and God-centered. Buy it.
Check out videos of all the songs for free on Paul’s Christmas Vol.2 Youtube Playlist.
WeAreWorship.com has a free download of all the chord charts,
There is also has a complete set of free tutorial videos 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 revive 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!
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 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 that 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.
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 GettyMusic Joy Youtube Playlist.
- Joy Has Dawned / Angels We Have Heard On High – Joy Has Dawned composed by Keith Getty & Stuart Townen is one of my favorite modern Christmas hymns.
- Hark The Herald Angels / Green Grass Reel
- Joy To The World
- Go Tell It On The Mountain
This project might surprise fans of Kim Walker Smith, lead vocalist for Jesus Culture. 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 associate 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’s 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.
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 website 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
This is a really cool record with great songs and production. Laura’s got a beautiful classic singer-songwriter voice and style.
You can check out all the songs for free on Laura’s 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.
The 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 Rend Collective Youtube Playlist
- Hark The Herald Angels Sing (Glory in the Highest)
- Oh Come All Ye Faithful
- Oh Holy Night
The American Idol alum has a phenomenal voice and charismatic personality. This record is predominately secular songs with just a few suitable for worship.
Check out all the songs on his Christmas Is Here Youtube Playlist
- Lift Up My Eyes – this is my favorite, love the text. There’s a lot of production 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
The K-LUV radio darlings Christmas project is more secular than sacred and oh-so-commercial , 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 on MercyMe Youtube Playlist
- O COME, O COME – Love this vocal arrangement of O Come O Come Emmanuel based on the hymn tune O WALY WALY (traditional English melody)
- Go Tell It On The Mountain – fun rockabilly approach.
Now of course it might seem completely self-serving to include my own project in this list of luminaries. I originally arranged these for my youth worship team to play. So the 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 genuinely recommend this project as a source of fun, easy arrangements of these Christmas classics. Songbook with lead sheets, chord charts and lyruc sheet also available.
- 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?