BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#478 - "What a Glorious Night" by Sidewalk Prophets
Linus makes an appearance in this uplifting, joyful Christmas celebration, and Dave Frey tells us why.
 


I've been a fan of Dove Award-winning band Sidewalk Prophets since they emerged on the CCM scene with their hit songs "The Words I Would Say" and "You Love Me Anyway" from their debut major label release, These Simple Truths. The band took it up a notch in my opinion with their follow-up album, Live Like That, which features the hit songs "Live Like That" and "Help Me Find It." (Stay tuned for the next single "Keep Making Me," as it is my favorite song they've ever recorded.)

While we are waiting for the New Year to usher in new tunes, we have the traditional Fall release of new Christmas albums from several new and established artists, including Sidewalk Prophets' Merry Christmas to You.

I had the chance to interview Dave Frey about one of the highlights of the album, the original Christ-centered tune, "What a Glorious Night."

Please tell me about the story behind recording the song.

This song kicks off our Christmas album, and has the joy and fervor expressed by the shepherds the night that they met Jesus for the first time. It says in the Gospel of Luke that the shepherds were so full of awe and wonder that they wanted to run through the town and tell everybody in sight. I don't know if I ever remembered that part of the story of Jesus' birth. We wanted to write a song that reflected the shepherd's joy. It's a happy clap your hands, stomp your feet, joy of Jesus kind of moment. 

We wanted to couple this song with Linus' speech from the Charlie Brown Christmas special. We had to call all kinds of people to get the proper permissions to use that amazing delivery by Linus from that Christmas special. It took until the very last day to get approval. Then my label called me and said, "Oops, we forgot to call the actor who played Linus." We found out that the actor who played Linus has passed away, but I called his wife and left her a message to get permission. 

We were at the last day before finalizing the album, and I called every hour and left a message. I said in the message, "I'm sure you don't know me, but your husband gives me chills every time I hear those lines from Charlie Brown's Christmas," and I thanked her for his legacy. By the grace of God, we got her permission to use Linus' introduction to kick off this song. In that scene in the special, Linus drops his security blanket when he says, "Fear not!" and for the rest of the passage he leaves his blanket on the ground as he tells the Bible story.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song? 

Luke 2:8-14 (NKJV): Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

Luke 2:15-19 (The Voice): As soon as the heavenly messengers disappeared into heaven, the shepherds were buzzing with conversation. Shepherds: Let's rush down to Bethlehem right now! Let's see what's happening! Let's experience what the Lord has told us about! So they ran into town, and eventually they found Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in the feeding trough. After they saw the baby, they spread the story of what they had experienced and what had been said to them about this child. Everyone who heard their story couldn't stop thinking about its meaning. Mary, too, pondered all of these events, treasuring each memory in her heart.

What's the takeaway message for listeners about the song and album? 

It's hard to write Christmas songs, especially in May, because they are all about the birth of Jesus. But when you get down to it, they are also easy because there is so much to say about how awesome Christmas and Jesus is. It's kind of like writing a love song—there's still more to tell. At first we struggled, and then we read the Bible and found out even more. The chorus came quickly, and we knew we wanted to have hand claps, foot stomps, and gang vocals and sing "Jesus Christ is born!" 

When I read through Luke 2, that description of running through the town telling everybody really jumped out at me. The shepherds were so full of joy that they wanted to tell everybody. I wanted this song to reflect that type of joy. I felt like those shepherds as we sing this song. We want this album to reflect the joy of celebrating the birth of Jesus. That's why I love Christmas. You can commercialize and decorate with lights, but Christ is going to outshine all of those things.

Lyrics:
The shepherds came to 
see the baby
Stood by his mother's side
Here laid the Savior 
inside a manger
Oh what a glorious night
Oh what a glorious night

I hear the angels singing halleluiah
Let the earth receive her king
I know that love has come 
Singing it out
Jesus Christ is born
Jesus Christ is born
Yeah

The shepherds wondered
They couldn't hide it
Told everyone in sight
All were amazed
When they heard how 
God came down on the glorious night
God came down on this glorious night

I hear the angels singing halleluiah
Let the earth receive her king
I know that love has come 
Singing it out
Jesus Christ is born
Jesus Christ is born
Yeah

Glorious
Glorious
What a Glorious night

Glorious
Glorious
What a Glorious night

I hear the angels singing halleluiah
Let the earth receive her king
I know that love has come 
Singing it out
Jesus Christ is born

I hear the angels singing halleluiah
Let the earth receive her king
I know that love has come 
Singing it out
Jesus Christ is born
I heard that Jesus Christ is born
Yeah Yeah Yeah

All is calm now
All is quiet
A Star shining in the sky
Below in Bethlehem
The king is sleeping
Oh What a Glorious Night
Oh What a Glorious Night

The exciting opener, "What a Glorious Night," opens with the classic reading of Luke 2:8-14 by Linus from the Charlie Brown Christmas special, closing with, "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." The song is sung from the perspective of the lowly shepherds celebrating the Good News of Great Joy with hand claps and a super catchy melody. 

After one listen you'll be singing along loudly, "I hear the angels singing, Hallelujah, let the earth receive Her King, I know that Love has come, sing it out, Jesus Christ is born, Jesus Christ is born!" That is an incredible offering of praise to our King and Savior, Jesus. Yes, Sidewalk Prophets, "that's what Christmas is all about." 

I grew up watching that Christmas special and I always marveled at the fact that Linus read God's Word as a way of declaring the true meaning of Christmas. As we've started the hustle and bustle of celebrating the gift purchasing and gift giving parts of Christmas, this song reminds us that the most important gift is to celebrate that Jesus Christ is born! This song is a great way to be filled with the joy of Jesus. Just like those shepherds, we are called as believers to spread the story of "good tidings of great joy," and how we've experienced Jesus. Amen to that!

(You can watch Dave talk about the song here.)

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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