Good Addition to Your Christmas Music Collection| Posted November 16, 2019
I love Christmas music and each year add new albums to my collection. Christmas by Sandra McCracken is a new album that I can recommend to you. I became aware of McCracken’s music at a few conferences that my wife Tammy and I have attended recently.
The album was recorded over three days in a studio just outside of Nashville. McCracken wrote that she joined up with Gabe Dixon, Will Sayles, Anthony LaMarca, Joey Bradshaw, Cindy Morgan, Matt Pierson, Don Chaffer and Tim Nicholson to make the record. Russ Long mixed the recordings together with orchestration from Isaac Wardell and friends in Charlottesville, VA, vocals from Josh Garrels in Indiana, and cello from Cara Fox and B3 from Phil Madeira.
McCracken has had the desire to record a Christmas album for years. It was on a trip to Israel two years ago when she visited the birthplace of Jesus and the shepherd’s field near Bethany that pushed her to make Christmas. The eleven songs include both originals and Christmas classics. Here are a few comments on each song: Joy to the World – This Christmas classic written by Isaac Watts, features McCracken singing over piano, light guitar, bass, cello and drums. She adds a new chorus “Repeat the sounding joy”. Ring the Bells – This song was written by McCracken and Cindy Morgan. McCracken has said that she wanted the song to provide a picture of a present-day holiday scene, the family gathering together, the candlelight service, the call for peace and comfort from one to another. The song features some nice piano, strings, drums and bass.
Key lyrics: We’re gonna ring the bells on Christmas day Let the light bring forth the dawn We’re gonna ring the bells the joy proclaim Giving us hope, helping us carry on All is Well – This song, set around the birth of Jesus, in a manger, a humble landing in a quiet place, is written by McCracken and Cindy Morgan. The song features acoustic guitar, bass, light percussion and piano. Mary’s Arms – This joyful song, with a memorable chorus, features piano, light percussion, strings, and backing vocals, ending with some excellent organ. A highlight.
Key lyrics: Now is the time, Songs fill the skies Redeeming love, baby child Resting in Mary’s arms. Jesus What A Wonderful Child – This traditional spiritual begins with bass, and then adds guitar, drums, hand claps, piano, organ and some excellent backing vocals from Cindy Morgan and Gabe Dixon. It’s instantly likeable and my favorite song on the album. Hark the Herald Angels Sing – This Christmas classic was written by Charles Wesley (lyrics) and Felix Mendelssohn (music). The song features bass, piano, light percussion and organ. This Is the Christ – This song was written by Martin Luther (lyrics) and McCracken (music). The song features McCracken singing over piano, bass, light guitar and drums.
Key lyrics: This is the Christ, our God and Lord Who in all need shall aid afford
He will himself our savior be
And from our sins will set us free Bright Morning Stars – This short traditional song features McCracken leading a group of singers. The song has a raw sound, much different from the other songs on the album, leading you to believe that it wasn’t recorded in a studio. Go Tell it on the Mountain – This African-American spiritual song, compiled by John Wesley Work, Jr., and dating back to at least 1865, is one of my favorite Christmas songs. The joyful song features acoustic guitar and some excellent backing vocals. A highlight. The Space Between – This song was written by McCracken, Cindy Morgan and Gabe Dixon, and features Josh Garrels on vocals. The song looks at the days after Christmas and before the New Year begins. McCracken has said that the song is a reflective, joyful reminder to accept the discomfort of life transitions with grace. It is a call to see what’s next. The song features acoustic guitar, bass, drums, piano and strings. Silent Night – This Christmas classic was written by Joseph Mohr in 1816. The beautiful version of the song features McCracken singing over acoustic guitar, backing vocals, and strings. Best songs:
Jesus, What a Wonderful Child
Go Tell it on the Mountain