Release Date: November 23rd 2018
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Joy To The World
- It Came Upon A Midnight Clear / Angels We Have Heard On High
- Away In A Manger
- We Three Kings / God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
- Emmanuel, God With Us (feat. Amy Grant)
- Go Tell It On The Mountain
- Ave Maria
- Christmas Hymns Mashup (O Little Town of Bethlehem/Away in a Manger/Silent Night/Hark the Herald Angels Sing/Joyful, Joyful/Joy To The World)
- Mary Did You Know?
If you’ve read any of my many Anthem Lights reviews on the site over the past few years, then you know who Spencer Kane, Joey Stamper, Chad Graham and Caleb Grimm are. And you all would know what they’re all about in terms of each of the four members being on fire for Jesus, passionate about their faith and passionate about their music also. But if you somehow are not in the loop as to who these young men of God are, then you can read my reviews of Anthem Lights’ projects right here, and now you can be caught up and in the know.
Now that you know though, let me tell you about the quartet’s latest project- Christmas Hymns– a 9-track album celebrating the most revered and relevant holiday in this history of mankind. Now while the group unveiled the Christmas Is Here EP a couple of years ago, and I reviewed the project here; it seems that on the surface the guys can’t say any more that hasn’t been said in their first Christmas release? Is this release worth it to buy, to listen to, if we already have listened to their last holiday album?
One look through the tracklist and we see quite a number of well known Christmas worship melodies. “Joy To The World”, “Away In A Manger”, “Mary Did You Know”, “Go Tell It On The Mountain” and “Ave Maria” are some of the most impacting and heartfelt carols of all time (although “Ave Maria” is slightly not as popular, and more obscure!), and they’re each covered here with extreme professionalism, joy and celebration; while medleys are also present here abound with “We Three Kings” being married with “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” (to a somewhat disjointed result!), and “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” mashed up with “Angels We Have Heard On High”- slightly more seamless yet nonetheless a tad distracting with the different tempos.
While Anthem Lights also have re-released their “Christmas Hymns” medley here also; it is “Emmanuel God with Us”, featuring Amy Grant, that is just as impactful and mysterious and haunting and honest and emotional as Amy’s original version from her 1992 album Home For Christmas. A clear standout here, Amy and the four guys beautifully update this track and make it one for the new generation- and as we sit and ponder and sing about Jesus in a timeless classic- it’s evident that they’re having fun here, that Amy is still going strong as a singer and as a songwriter; and Anthem Lights are just beginning in their career- there’s so much more that God has in store for them to do.
With the album instrumentation just the piano keys (as well as a full band in a few of the tracks), it is in these vibrant and eclectic renditions where we can hear each of the four members showcase their brilliant vocal abilities, either sung as a solo part or together. The result is nothing short of extraordinary and remarkable as we hear one of the greatest vocal groups currently. With Anthem Lights previously reiterating that they will always keep creating worship music in tandem with pop music and other types of genres (and hence they will always find a way to create Christmas music and Christmas worship songs!); sky’s the limit for these guys. So while we wait to see what they’ve got next in store (maybe a full length all-original album next year as a follow up to Painted Skies? Or even a Greatest Showman album?), let us worship God with these heartfelt, poignant and honest worship songs, that celebrate the reason for the season! And see how Joey, Spencer, Caleb and Chad minister to our souls!
3 songs to listen to: Joy To The World, Emmanuel God With Us, Mary Did You Know
RIYL: Tauren Wells, Selena Gomez, Cimorelli, Taylor Swift, One Direction, TobyMac, Britt Nicole