Christmas has been my favorite time of year for as long as I can remember. I love the extra beauty of Christmas music, the joy of family gatherings, Christmas programs and the traditions of cookies and decorations and gift giving and receiving. I’ve got so many Christmas songs running through my mind right now that I’m a little ditzy, forgetting things, like that there was a scripture reading planned for our worship service last Sunday. (Sorry Kirk and Michael!)
This Christmas season has been extra special because of the music I’ve been practicing for our Christmas Eve Services. The more I listen to it and commit it to memory, the more deeply my heart, mind and soul is filled with worship and awe for our Great God and his eternal plan to rescue the world through Jesus Christ. That’s what Christmas is all about! We’re going to present a musical telling of the Christmas story – Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God. Cast in the folk-rock genre, it tells the story of the coming of Christ within the context of the whole biblical narrative. We take five of the eleven songs to chronologically arrive to where we usually begin the Christmas story with “It Came to Pass.” Here is a sneak preview of a few of the songs. (For a more detailed review you can check out friend and worship leader, Sam Blakey’s blog.)
One of my favorites to sing and play (in DADGAD tuning) is So Long Moses. Beginning as the Israelites enter the Promised Land, we journey with Joshua, Saul, and David, all the way to the devastation of the divided Kingdom of Israel. Then we end with the Israelites crying out for another King like David. “We want a king on a throne full of power with a sword in his fist. Full of wisdom, full of strength, the hearts of the people are his.Will there be another king like this?” The prophet Isaiah says, “He’ll bear no beauty or glory, rejected, despised, a man of such sorrows, we’ll cover our eyes. He’ll take up our sickness and carry our tears. For his people he will be pierced. He’ll be crushed for evils our punishment feel. By his wounds we will be healed.” I sing that section (found in Isaiah 53) over an amazing musical riff that the whole band is doing in 7/8 time. Then we end with the promise, “From you, oh Bethlehem, small among Judah, a ruler will come ancient and strong!” From this complex full band sound, we move next to a simple lament consisting of one voice, acoustic guitar and cello. Like a Psalm, Deliver Us pleas, “Oh Yahweh hear our cry and gather us beneath your wings tonight!”
Trinity’s FOUR band (along with a few guest musicians) has been working hard on some of the most challenging music we’ve ever played. In fact, sound tech Joe Cornell has his work cut out for him as we’ve never had so many musical instruments on stage. I’m playing 4 guitars throughout the piece each with a different tuning! Friend and luthier Phil Gruenler built and finished a hammered dulcimer for the occasion and will additionally play mandolin & electric guitar. The cello, played by high school student Jason Bennett, paints each scene with emotion and beauty. Lane Schneider is playing bass guitar and brushing up on the bass violin for a special song. Her husband Greg adds percussion and violin to the symphony. John Guminiak plays his accordion, keys and may even bring a few laughs to our evening together. Corey Schwarz plays drums, percussion and sings. Charissa Marron graces the project with her sweet voice. Finally Chris Doughty displays his musical genius on the electric and acoustic guitar and sings a majority of the songs.
Accompanying the music will be media, drama, dance, all to tell the most wonderful story in the very best and most beautiful way we can. Our team is excited to share it with you! We are distributing free tickets this year to make it easy to invite folks to join you at one of our services. We look forward to seeing you on Christmas Eve!