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Emmanuel: Christmas Songs of Worship – Chris Tomlin
*** ½ 

Chris Tomlin releases his fifth Christmas Songs of Worship project. His Christmas Songs of Worship series includes Miracle Of Love: Christmas Songs of Worship EP released in 2020, Christmas Day: Christmas Songs of Worship EP from 2019, 2015’s Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship, and the gold-certified Glory In The Highest: Christmas Songs of Worship from 2009. The new 12-song project, which includes four songs previously released on the above-mentioned EPs, was produced by Ed Cash and includes new songs as well as reimagined Christmas classics.  The album has Tomlin collaborating with CeCe Winans, We the Kingdom, Matt Redman, and Blessing Offor.
Below are a few comments about each song:

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  • More of this review and a review of Interrobang by Switchfoot
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  • Song of the Week Lyrics

Emmanuel God With Us – This song was written by Chris Tomlin and Jason Ingram. The song opens with Tomlin singing over piano. It then gently builds with drums, bass, guitar and backing vocals towards a joyful chorus.
Key lyric:
Emmanuel, God with us
Emmanuel, King Jesus
The Savior of the world is born
Emmanuel, God with us
Emmanuel, King Jesus
The Savior of the world is born   

Christmas Day – This previously released song was written by Ed Cash, Scott Cash, Franni Cash, Martin Cash and Andrew Bergthold. The joyful song features drums, guitar, and excellent vocals from Tomlin and We The Kingdom. Classic Tomlin, this song would be a good one for congregational singing.
Key lyric:
Sing all you people
The Lord almighty reigns
Sing every creature of God
Come bless His name
For He is good, for He is good
He was born to conquer the grave
Light of the world
The reason for Christmas Day

All The World Awaits (Hosanna) – This previously released praise song about the coming of the Savior was written by Tomlin, Jason Ingram and Matt Maher. The song begins with guitar and gently builds with piano, drums and backing vocals. The song is inspired by Matthew 21:9 and Isaiah 9:6.
Key lyric:
Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace
Hail the Son of righteousness
Light and life to all He brings
Glory to the newborn king

Hallelujah – This joyful song features The Voice contestant Blessing Offor, who sang “Tin Roof” on Tomlin’s Chris Tomlin and Friends album. Offor sings over piano, bass, drums, organ and backing vocals.
Key lyric:
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
That’s what the angels cried
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Precious little child
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Sound of the angel’s joy
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Little baby boy

I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day – This Christmas carol, which was based on a poem by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, includes a new chorus. Tomlin sings over piano, organ, bass, drums and backing vocals.
Key lyric:
I heard them ringing
I heard them ringing
All across the earth
I heard them ringing
The bells remember
They ring forever
Unto us a child is born a savior
Our savior

His Name is Wonderful – This previously released song was written by Tomlin and Ed Cash, and includes a chorus taken from Isaiah 9:6. The song begins with Tomlin singing over piano, and then builds with drums, strings and choir.
Key lyric:
Come and adore Him
On bended knee
He came to ransom
Someone like me

O Come, O Come Emmanuel – This Christmas carol was translated in 1861 by John Mason Neale. The song starts quietly and gently builds featuring guitar, backing vocals and some nice drums.
Key lyric:
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, Israel

Hope of Israel – This previously released song was written by Tomlin, Ben Fielding, Jason Ingram and Reuben Morgan. The song begins with Tomlin singing over piano, then builds gently with strings and backing vocals.
Key lyric:
God is with us
Christ our Savior
Jesus our Emmanuel
He shall reign our King forever
The hope of Israel

O Holy Night – This Christmas carol was based on a poem that was set to music by Adolphe Adam.  The song features a powerful vocal by CeCe Winans singing over guitar, piano, drums, bass, and choir.
Key lyric:
God with us, Emmanuel
O night, O night divine

Crown Him (Christmas) – This song was originally written by Matthew Bridges and Godfrey Thring, and includes some new lyrics. The song features vocals by Matt Redman, piano, backing vocals, guitar, drums and bass.
Key lyric:
Crowned by their royal gifts
Gold, frankincense and myrrh
Wise men approach this manager throne
With honors from afar 
Behold the Son of God
And bow down in this place
The Prince of Peace has come to us
O crown Him with your praise 

O Little Town of Bethlehem – This song was written by Phillip Brooks. The song features piano, strings, backing vocals and drums.
Key lyric:
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel

Crown Him (reprise) – This short ending song features vocals by Matt Redman, strings and a choir.
Key lyric:
Not a throne of gold, but a manger throne
See His humility
Not a crown of gold, but a crown of thorns
See His humility

Best songs:
Emmanuel God With Us
O Holy Night
Crown Him (Christmas)

Interrobang – Switchfoot
** ½

interrobang is Switchfoot’s 12th studio album and the follow-up to 2019’s Native Tongue album and 2020’s forgettable Covers EP. It was produced by Tony Berg. The album’s title comes from a punctuation mark ‽ designed for use especially at the end of an exclamatory rhetorical question.
This is a serious album and features an experimental late 1960’s era pop sound, the familiar Switchfoot guitar sound and good backing vocals. The band stated that the album is unlike anything they’ve ever made before, and I agree with that. I give the band credit for not resting on their laurels, but instead pushing themselves. I found the music fresh, but some of the lyrics are vague to the point of being hard to determine the message/meaning, and there is minimal explicit Christian content, perhaps making it difficult to get the songs played on Christian radio. Although Switchfoot is one of my favorite bands, this is not one of my favorite albums by them, and probably one that I won’t revisit much in the future. Themes on the album include questions, love, looking for truth and light, disagreeing, being wrong and learning things the hard way.
Below are a few comments about each song:
beloved – This song about looking for truth and light was written by Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman and Tony Berg. The song features keyboards, drums, guitar, bass, backing vocals and a Beatle sounding chorus. If he could open his eyes, would the truth be what would set him free. He can’t find the truth in the news or his social media feed.
Key lyrics:
I’m still looking for the truth
But I can’t seem to find it in the news
Maybe I’ll start singing like the blues, maybe

lost ‘cause – This song was written by Jon Foreman and Tim Foreman. The song features a driving beat, led by guitar, drums and bass. The guitar work on this song stands out and reminds me of The Edge from U2.   
Key lyrics:
Are we a lost cause?
Are we just lost ’cause
We won’t be the future we refuse to see?

fluorescent – This song was written by Jon Foreman. The song opens with guitar and cello and then breaks out with a heavy rock drum, bass, keyboards and backing vocals. Foreman sings about being a moth outside a window, beating his wings against the front porch light. It’s a call to a woman he’s dreaming of, and his wings can’t sustain him too much longer. He wonders how long it will be until his florescent girl is his.
Key lyrics:
We are always separate, always near

if i were you – This song was written by Jon Foreman and Tim Foreman. The upbeat song is driven by a fast bass beat and drums, with guitar, keyboards and backing vocals. There are references to being 2020 enemies, Twitter, fear, and disagreeing.
Key lyrics:
If I were you
And you were me
Would we still be doomed

To disagree?

the bones of us – This song was written by Jon Foreman and Tim Foreman. The ballad has Foreman reflecting on a relationship. The song features guitar, keyboards, bass, light percussion, backing vocals and a memorable chorus.
Key lyrics:
Our heart’s like a flood
That washes us new
I’m fighting for us
But most of all, for you

splinter – This rocker was written by Jon Foreman and Tim Foreman. The song features a driving beat led by drums, guitar and bass. It also features backing vocals and keyboards. It’s only illusions. Who can take the broken splinters from his head?
Key lyrics:
My mind is at war
I lie awake in bed
Like a splinter in my hand
Like a splinter in my head

i need you (to be wrong) – This mid-tempo song, which was started a decade ago, was written by Jon Foreman and Tim Foreman. The song features guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and backing vocals. Often times we need the other to be wrong, but we find out that we were both wrong.
Key lyrics:
All along we both were wrong
I need you

the hard way – This upbeat song was written by Jon Foreman and Tim Foreman. The song features guitar, backing vocals, bass, drums. He always learns things the hard way.     
Key lyrics:
Maybe there’s no such thing as a rewind
There’s no way to go back in time
I learn best from the replay
I always learn things the hard way

wolves – This song was written by Jon Foreman. Musically, this song is unlike any other on the album. The song features cello, bass, drums and backing vocals. All of his world is a collision and spin. It’s my least favorite song on the album.
Key lyrics:
All of my world’s a collision and spin
Hope is a war that we’re already in

backwards in time – This mid-tempo love song was written by Jon Foreman and Tim Foreman. The song features guitar, bass, drums, Sgt. Pepper type sound effects, vocals from Tim Foreman and backing vocals. The song is about going back in time to give a relationship one more try.
Key lyrics:
If we could go back, would we take the same path?
If we knew what we know?

electricity – This love song was written by Jon Foreman. The song features guitar, drums, backing vocals and Sgt. Pepper type sound effects.   
Key lyrics:
Come on, hang up and hang out

Best songs:
lost ‘cause
the bones of us
if i were you
the hard way

“Amazing Grace” by Keith and Kristyn Getty, Dana Masters and Kirk Whalum

This week’s song of the week is a beautiful new version of John Newton’s hymn “Amazing Grace” by Keith and Kristyn Getty, Dana Masters and Kirk Whalum. The song is from the Getty’s new album Confession: Irish American Roots. Watch the video here.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home. 

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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