#878 - "Emmanuel" by Hannah Kerr
Hannah Kerr embeds one of her personal favorite Christmas truths into this new song.

Posted: December 05, 2017 | By: KevinDavis_NRT
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The new Christian artist Hannah Kerr has had an exciting year. She has several songs that have made an impact on the Christian radio chart for the past year, with her infectious song "Your Love Defends Me" (also recorded by Matt Maher) along with the songs from her album Overflow including "I Stand Here," "Radiate" and recent radio climber "Warrior." While we are awaiting her follow-up single, she has released a Christmas EP, Emmanuel.

I had the chance to speak with Hannah about her catchy new original Christmas song "Emmanuel," which is a great follow-up connected to her other hits with themes of trusting in God, Emmanuel, as it is translated in the Bible: "God with us."

Please tell me the personal story behind the song.

My favorite song on the album is "Emmanuel," which is why it is the title track. I wrote this song with two of my favorite artists, Andy Gullahorn and Jill Phillips, who are husband and wife. We were talking about how my favorite part of Christmas is that God told Mary she was going to have a Son and call Him Emmanuel, which means God with us. 

That's the difference between Christianity and other religions: we believe our God is with us and not far off from us. We serve a God who is with us. So long ago, God decided to send His only Son down to dwell with us, not as a King, but as a baby to draw us closer to Him. That has stuck with me my whole life. Remembering at Christmas that we serve a God who took on flesh is a peaceful reminder of how much God loves us. I hope the song reminds people of that.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song? 

Isaiah 7:14-15 (NKJV): "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good."

Matthew 1:23 (The Voice): "A virgin will conceive and bear a Son, and His name will be Immanuel which is a Hebrew name that means "God with us."

Hebrews 11:8 (The Voice): "By faith Abraham heard God's call to travel to a place he would one day receive as an inheritance; and he obeyed, not knowing where God's call would take him."

What's the takeaway message? 

I'm so excited about this EP, because I love Christmas music. It's my favorite genre of music, and I do listen to it all year round, no shame. I'm excited about these songs because they explain what Christmas means to me. We have some jazz songs, and I was raised on classic jazz songs. We have "White Christmas," which is one of the jazz songs. I grew up in Buffalo, New York, and all we had were white Christmases. Now I live in Nashville, and we don't have white Christmases anymore. That's really important to me to sing that song. 

We have two original Christmas songs. It's hard to write an original Christmas song, but I really wanted to express how it is a time of joy and a time to express what it means to us that the Lord decided to come and dwell with us so long ago. I also recorded "Breath of Heaven," and I love how it beautifully reflects how Mary may have felt carrying Jesus, Emmanuel. This EP sums up a lot of my experience of Christmas, and I hope it encourages people to experience peace and remember that God is with us, all of the time, and especially gives them joy and peace.

The idea of "Emmanuel" is so important to me. When God came many years ago to people, Israel was so sad and felt so alone, and they were going through a time of mourning, wondering "when are we going to be saved and when is our Savior going to come?" I feel like that is very similar to what we are feeling right now, just despair of all of the wrong in the world. There are so many things we can grieve about, and the truth is that our same God who came then to a hurting group of people still comes to us now as a hurting group of people and reminds us that there is still goodness, and joy, and peace in the world, because we serve a God of peace. We don't have to worry that He doesn't care or doesn't see us, because He proved then that He is with us, and He is the same God and does that for us today. 

At Christmastime, it seems like it's supposed to be a happy season, and in reality for some people it's a sad time, and some people have been scarred in the past. The fact that our Savior came to dwell among us reminds me that we have something to be happy about, and we can have joy because joy comes when we remember who God is and what He means to us. Remember that He sees us, He is with us and He loves us.

He was not the One we thought would come
We were lookin' for a king
But He didn't come in glory
The Author of the oceans and the sun
Still He chose to be
Written in our story

So He could feel
Our flesh and blood
And we could know
His love

A manger for a bed
No crown upon His head
He came like us instead
He meets you where you are
He holds your heavy heart
Our God is with us all

It was no mistake that He arrived
Lost without a home
Helpless as a baby
So if we're feelin' lost in our own lives
We are not alone
He has felt the same things

Because He lived
In flesh and blood
We can know
His love

A manger for a bed
No crown upon His head
He came like us instead
He meets you where you are
He holds your heavy heart
Our God is with us all

Oh, what an invitation
Oh, His only expectation
Is for us to come and offer Him our all
To kneel before the Child who shall be called

A manger for a bed
No crown upon His head
He came like us instead
He meets you where you are
He holds your heavy heart
Our God is with us all

The mission of this great new Christian singer is that she is truly living out a faith journey, like Abraham and Sarah in the Bible, living in faith and with hopeful expectations. Hannah is following God's leading in her life, without always knowing where she is going next. That's the type of faith in God that He calls each of us to have, to remember that God is with us, Emmanuel, to the end of the age. I fully support her music ministry of carrying God's name and proclaiming His goodness and faithfulness everywhere she goes.

I love the reflective and reverent feel of this song, and Hannah has a way of inviting me in to worship with along with her. Every year we anticipate Christmas in my family by reading Scripture daily to prepare our hearts for the birth of Jesus. My wife and I spoke with our three daughters about God's prophesy in Isaiah 7:14 where God tells us exactly what is going to happen 700 years before the birth of His Son. 

One of my favorite Christmas hymns is "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." This song captures that emotional, anticipatory feel of being expectant with reverent waiting for this holy day. You can sing this song in preparation this Christmas season, in remembrance of Jesus and God's promise. You can also express the hope you have in God and sing along: "He meets you where you are, He holds your heavy heart, our God is with us all, Emmanuel," with joyful anticipation. That's how God would like us to prepare our hearts for His coming. Amen to that!

Watch the music video below.


NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.

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