The Advent of Christmas, by Matt Maher (Essence Records, 2018)
This new Christmas album from Matt Maher mixes songs of worship with others that are just plain fun. Christmas, after all, is a time for both.
I love this album and would put it in my top three for Christmas. The musical styles are diverse, so don’t sample one or two tracks and think you have a feel for it all.
A bit about the songs:
- “Gabriel’s Message” leads off, slow and haunting.
- “He Shall Reign Forevermore” melds the traditional hymn “In the Bleak Midwinter” with a new chorus and tune. It’s beautiful, and you may be singing it in your church this season. One of my three favourites on this album.
- “Born on that Day” is a new one, with a soft rock feel. It’s my new favourite Christmas song.
- “Jingle Bells” has a jazz/swing feel in a Michael Bublé style. This is a song I usually ignore, but not this time!
- “The First Noel” is another song I wouldn’t ordinarily pick, because usually it feels like it drags on and on… Not this time. A new chorus replaces the endless “Noel, Noel” and I like it. It’s slow, gentle, reflective.
- “Hope for Everyone” has a simple rhythm and repetition that makes me think of a campfire song.
- “Glory (Let there be Peace)” is the first to encourage us “do not be afraid”.
- “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is a song I always like, despite its minor key. This version includes a new chorus of hope and encouragement.
- “Always Carry You” (featuring Amy Grant). Okay, this one’s going on my playlist year-round, and has become very special to me. It’s another “do not be afraid” song, reflective in nature, and although it comes from the perspective of Mary later in life looking back at Jesus’ birth, it’s a song worshippers can make our own.
- “Love Came Down to Bethlehem” is meditative and reflective.
- “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” has a new chorus and a driving beat. You may hear it on Christian radio.
- “Little Merry Christmas” is straight-out kitchen party, complete with some clever lyrics. This one might get you dancing.
- “When I Think of Christmas” ends the album on a softer, nostalgic note.
The Advent of Christmas is available for download through the usual stores, and as a physical cd as well. Every track carries its weight well and contributes to the whole, so don’t short-change yourself by only buying a few pieces.
Award-winning singer/songwriter Matt Maher has also released a children’s book with the same title. You can see more about the book here: goodreads.com/book/show/41785402-the-advent-of-christmas. For more about Matt Maher, visit mattmahermusic.com.
[Review copy from my personal library.]