Multi award-winning artist and songwriter Matt Maher will release his holiday album, The Advent of Christmas (Essential Records/Provident Label Group) on October 19. A children’s book of the same name will also release the same day with Wellspring Publishing, a division of Beacon Publishing.
“From the very beginning and through the history of Christianity, the season of Advent has been a way of remembering (more fully) the mystery of God becoming human,” Maher shares. “Long before the Macy’s Day Parade, red Starbucks cups and The Elf on a Shelf, Christians marked the passage of time in the four weeks before Christmas by remembering and embracing the sense of anticipation around the arrival of the promised Messiah; to prepare for the coming of Jesus."
"When you have relatives and friends coming for the holidays, you try to take time to get ready. The whole point is to prepare. I wanted to have a collection of songs – some that are familiar and many that are new – that prepare us for the four weeks of Advent and how each week is devoted to the concepts of hope, peace, joy and love.”
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Songs for Advent| Posted October 21, 2018
Matt Maher is one of the most respected songwriters of our day. He has released Christmas songs in the past, but this is his first full-length Christmas album. The 13-song collection includes both original songs and traditional favorites that he hopes will help us prepare for and better appreciate the period of Advent, leading up to Christmas day. I really enjoyed this new release from Maher. Below are a few comments about each song: Gabriel's Message - This song is about the angel Gabriel’s message to Mary, the most highly favored lady (Luke 1;26-38). The song features piano, strings, drums, and backing vocals. He Shall Reign Forevermore – This song was written with Chris Tomlin and was originally released on Tomlin’s 2015 album Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship. The song opens with piano and strings and builds powerfully with drums and backing vocals. It uses Isiah 9:6 and Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” as a reference.
Key lyric: Unto us a child is born The King of kings and Lord of lords And He shall reign forevermore, forevermore Born On That Day – This triumph song was written by Maher, Brian Elmquist, Mitch Parks, Jesse Reeves and Chris Tomlin. It opens with strings and builds powerfully. The song features some excellent drums and strings. Key lyric: Christmas was born on that day. Oh, what a day, Oh what a day. Jingle Bells – The lyrics to this holiday standard were written for a local school choir by James S. Pierpoint in 1857 with the title of “One Horse Open Sleigh”. Maher brings a fun, jazzy arrangement to the song, with piano, drums, horns, backing vocals, bass and violin. The First Noel – This song, which probably goes back to the 18th century, was first published in Some Ancient Christmas Carols in 1823 by Davies Gilbert in London. On this version, to which a new chorus is added, Maher sings over piano, then is joined by bass and drums and backing vocals. Hope For Everyone – This song features upbeat gospel music with the message of hope that Jesus brings. The song starts with Maher singing backed by acoustic guitar and then builds powerfully with a choir. Hear the angels sing that there is hope for everyone. We are waiting on the promise, Jesus, who bends low to be among us. He is the one who lights the darkness. This is the highlight of the album. Glory (Let There Be Peace) – A different version of this song was previously released as a single in 2016. This version opens with some gospel organ and finger snaps, and then builds with some powerful drums and backing choir vocals. Do not be afraid, His love is strong enough to save us.
Key lyric: Let there be peace, let it start in me. O Come Emmanuel – While this song is often linked with the 12th century, the earliest surviving evidence of the hymn’s text is in a hymnal published in Cologne in 1710. Maher’s beautiful version, which includes a new chorus, features bass, synth and finger snaps. It then builds powerfully. Always Carry You – This beautiful song features lead vocals by Amy Grant, backed by Maher. In Luke 1:30, the angel tells Mary not to be afraid. She then says in Luke 1:38, “Let it be to me according to your word”. This was beyond her understanding, but she won’t be afraid, every word is true. What would it be like to never be afraid? Love Came Down – This beautiful song about the coming of Jesus was written by Maher and Jon Guerra. It begins with acoustic guitar, synth, strings, and builds with a choir.
Key lyric: Born to heal the bonds of men Born that we be born again Hark The Herald Angels Sing – The lyrics to this song were written by Charles Wesley, and the music by Felix Mendelssohn. This joyful version, which features some new lyrics, includes Irish penny whistles. Merry Little Christmas – This fun, upbeat song is about the joy of the Christmas season. It has a good drum-driven beat. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, a wonderful life that we have. When I Think Of Christmas – This song has Maher sharing his feelings as he thinks of Christmas. There are memories, singing songs, hope, raising a glass, thinking of those not with us. For a moment, the world is at peace. The song features piano and strings.