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Charismatic Puritan

Right doctrine leads to right thinking, and right thinking leads to right living.

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Location: Gaithersburg, MD, United States

Jealous for the truth, beauty and majesty of our glorious risen Savior.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man

Do I need another Christmas album? I have Frank and Ella and Tony, Sarah McLachlan, The Mormons and Hillsong, and about 2 dozen Christian artists I've downloaded off of iTunes, so, no, I really don't. But, as we listen to the "Christmas muzak" being played in stores and on the radio we all hear the paucity of Christ in what is being sung. Even Christians singing hymns will often change words to remove some of the more important lyrics. It was after 3 tries that Johnny Mathis finally gave the lyric in "What Child is This" that I was looking for - "Nails, spear shall pierce Him through; the cross be borne for me, for you." And that's a really important concept. Yes, Jesus is the "Reason for the Season," but the real core of the reason He made this season is so He could become incarnate in order to someday be our atoning sacrifice and bear our sins on the cross. The "Savior" album captures that reason in all its before, during and after redemptive wonder.

Although several of the songs don't have that musically "Christmas" feel to them, whether that is arrangement of instruments or the song itself I'm not sufficiently articulate in the language of music to describe, but I think the use of choral voices may have helped. The instruments, also, are those of typical contemporary music and not the strings and horns that more traditional Christmas music might have. However, there are several particular standouts that highlight this exceptionally well crafted and deliberately scripted album.

The first song, "Christ the Lord is Born Today" will be one of my favorite Christmas hymns, in fact, just one of my favorite hymns, for the foreseeable future. The promises of Genesis are wrapped into the birth narrative as well as the anticipated realization of the redemptive promises that began their fulfillment at the Savior's incarnation. Musically it is lively, energetic and festive and smacks of what I think of when I think of when I think of Christmas music.

"Emmanuel, Emmanuel," the third song is similar in its energy as well as its broad scope of redemptive history. It begins in the poverty of the virgin's lap, describes our brokenness that Christ came into and the recounts the promised redemption and its consequences as paid for by the cross. As I'm shuffling through the songs now, the second song, "Hope Has Come" also has the joyous warmth of a soul satisfied in the Savior and desirous of adoring Him.

The last song, "Sleep, Jesus, Sleep" has that very simple elegant sound of a meditative traditional hymn. It is also a favorite because of the magnificent vocals of Shannon Harris that turn what is almost a lullaby into a profoundly worshipful recounting of Christ's supreme authority, the anticipation of His full redemptive work and the truly personal and intimate way we should experience and celebrate it. The fact that it was written by my friend Rich Dalmas makes it that much more cherished.

I've used the word group "anticipate" twice in this review and I think that is an appropriate singular description of the effect of this work; it develops in me a deeper appreciation of Christ and His work and a hungrier anticipation for His return. I can think of no better result of celebrating the first advent than a jealousy for the second.

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