Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Songs for Advent, Christmas, and Winter

Most of you who know me know I love Christmas music. You also probably know I love making the mix CDs. Last year I made a mix and gave it to a handful of friends, and I was pretty happy with it. Here is the track listing with some explanations (that I wrote when I made it last year):

Songs for Advent, Winter, and Christmas
The themes of waiting & watching for the light have been really present in my thoughts this Advent season so far. I grew up in a church background that doesn’t celebrate Advent – so I’ve been discovering this season of waiting/anticipation over the past few years. It’s a really mysterious thing – to live in this place in time that we both know that Christ has come but will come again once & for all.

“But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief.
For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night.
So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded.
Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk.
But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.
For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us.
Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever.
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:4-11 (NLT)

  • "O Come All Ye Faithful" – Rich Mullins
    Rich Mullins ranks as possibly my all time favorite songwriter. Ever. This song is from the album “Here in America” which is a bunch of tracks that were never officially released. I love the emotion of Rich’s piano playing here (usually I play air piano when I listen to it). And even though it’s just him & a piano – it sounds huge. Love it.
  • "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" – Sufjan Stevens
    Yeah, he’s a little weird. But he creates music that sounds cool & organic. And I really like all of his Christmas stuff.
  • "Prepare a Place" – Christine Dente’ w/ Michael W. Smith
    This is from a Rocketown collection from a few years back. It reminds me of a Taize’ style worship song – repetitive for a purpose.
  • "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" – Steven Curtis Chapman
    I love this arrangement. It’s hard to write new music to such a familiar text, but I think one does a great job.
  • "Anthem for Christmas" – Michael W. Smith
    The 1989 MWS Christmas album is my family’s all-time Christmas favorite. There’s lots of orchestra/boys choir – and very little MWS. This album is what the Christmas season sounds like to me.
  • "A Great Light" – Kendall Payne
    This uses 2 texts from Isaiah that I love (chapters 9 & 60 I think). The song is new to me this year – but I really really dig it. It’s from a collection by Don Chaffer from Waterdeep (Songs from the Voice).
  • "The Glorious Impossible" – Carl Cartee
    We used this in our Christmas services at church last year. It’s a fun one to sing congregationally – and I think it’s important to tell the whole story of Jesus at Christmas. This song does a good job of that.
  • "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" – Jim Brickman
    Simple, piano – can’t go wrong.
  • "No Eye Had Seen" – Amy Grant/Michael W. Smith
    This track with the next one are my favorites from the 1989 MWS album
  • "All is Well" – Michael W. Smith
  • "Jesus Born on this Day" – Mariah Carey
    I love the kids choir in this song – so real! And believe it or not, she wrote this. Something about Christmas brings out the class in everyone…
  • "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" – Charlie Brown Christmas
    Simply nostalgia
  • "Joy to the World" – Whitney Houston
    This may be one of my most favorite re-makes of a Christmas song – ever. It’s from The Preacher’s Wife soundtrack. I love the gospel choir, the brass, and the energy. I usually bounce up and down – with soul – while listening. (Sometimes I listen to it when it’s not Christmas.)
  • "I Saw Three Ships" – Sufjan Stevens
    A Christmas song you don’t hear all the time, performed by a wide variety of instruments.
  • "Stille Nacht" – The King’s Singers
    I think it’s really pretty in German. I’m sorry if the volume is at different levels for the choral tracks – but I couldn’t resist them…
  • "Christmas Hymn" – Amy Grant
    When I was a little girl I wanted to grow up to be Amy Grant. (Though I’m not crazy about her voice here, I really like the song itself.) This is another song that tells the whole Story.
  • "Here With Us" – Joy Williams
    This is one we’re using this Christmas Eve at church. I first heard it a year ago at the Willow Creek Christmas service. At the Hallelujahs, there were dancers – and it was one of those moments when the truth & beauty of the whole thing just “got me.” I was a bawling mess.
  • "Noel" – Millikin University
    Millikin is a small college near where I live. They have incredible choirs & every year they have a Vespers service in early December. Most of the evening is really reverent, but this is a guys piece they did the first year I went. It’s much cooler live – but still pretty fun.
  • "We Three Kings" – Jose Luis Madueno y Ricardo Silvas
    An arrangement I found this year while I was looking for world Christmas music
  • "Main Title from Home Alone" – John Williams
    I am not the biggest John Williams fan – but his score totally makes this movie.
  • "Song for a Winter’s Night" – Sarah McLachlan
    I love Sarah McLachlan – I got this on a compilation CD a few years back. It’s very wintery and romantic I think….
  • "Winter Wonderland" – Harry Connick, Jr.
    From the When Harry Met Sally soundtrack – it’s fun

I am working diligently on a new mix for this year - it's coming along. (If you haven't received this Christmas mix, let me know...I may be able to work something out.) I promise to update on the 07 version very soon.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Other Side of the World

As I mentioned previously, my best friends are in Africa right now. During their trip they've been blogging about some of their experiences, and I have loved reading their stories. This one about a woman named Elizabeth was incredible. It humbles me that God allows us to partner with Him to help people. I encourage you to check out their stories - and to pray for what God's doing in Nairobi, Kenya.

Monday, November 05, 2007

A Combination of Intended Posts

I keep meaning to blog. Honest. I just haven't gotten around to it. So, here is the Cliff Notes version of the things that I've been meaning to blog about.
  • My best friend Melissa (and her husband Chris) are on a trip to Africa. I miss them a lot. I'm excited to hear more about their trip since they're visiting the neighborhood in Kenya that our church is involved with through CMF. They've really wanted to take a trip like this for a while, so I'm glad they're getting to do it. I'm only moderately jealous of their travel (which is an improvementfor me). Also, I miss them (well, mostly Melissa...sorry Chris).

  • Melissa got me a book for my birthday to keep me company. It's "The Year of Living Biblically" by AJ Jacobs. (If you're not familiar, it's the journey of a guy who tries to live the Bible as literally as possible for one year; he's not religious, but he is very funny.) I've been reading it like it's Harry Potter. It's very funny...and thoughtful about spirituality at the same time. I wish my blog could have his sense of humor.
  • It should be no surprise, but I have been LOVING the weather lately. Fall is nice because I'm happy if it's sunny, and I'm happy if it's raining. A few weekends ago, I had a glorious trip to Indiana for the Covered Bridge Festival where I was introduced to persimmon pudding. I have heard about this dessert quite a bit, and I was rather skeptical. (It doesn't sound good for some reason.) Fortunately, I thought it was awesome.

  • The book of Habakkuk is really great. I've read it several times over the last few weeks, and if you're not familiar with it I recommend it.

  • I've been trying to plan Christmas worship services lately - it's a good thing I don't mind listening to Christmas music all year long!

Okay...I think I'm caught up for now. I'll share a picture - and then I'm out.