Mini-Review: Casting Crowns – Peace on Earth

Casting Crowns

Peace On Earth

Label: Reunion Records

Release Date: October 7th 2008 (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
  2. O Come All Ye Faithful
  3. Joy To The World
  4. While You Were Sleeping
  5. Silent Night
  6. God Is With Us
  7. Away In A Manger
  8. Christmas Offering
  9. Sweet Little Jesus Boy
  10. O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Initial thoughts: An overall decent mix of Christmas carols and original Christmas songs. It’s songs that we all know and love- Joy to the World, O Come All Ye Faithful, Silent Night etc. but also some songs people may not have heard before at all – Christmas Offering is one example. Perfect for someone who wants to listen to Christmas carols, but yearns for some non-carols they can get into for the Christmas season.

Reason to listen: For ‘While You Were Sleeping’ and ‘Christmas Offering’, alongside the new re-working of ‘I Heard the Bells’, is reason enough alone to check out this album, at least once. Sure the carols you may have heard before, time and time again, but if only for the original tracks, it’s worth it to check it out, if only once on Spotify, and then maybe spin only the original songs on rotation in your favourite Christmas playlist.

Reason to buy: If you are an avid fan of Casting Crowns, you can buy it to complete your collection of their albums. Otherwise, considering that it’s Christmas carols you may have heard before (and the Casting Crowns versions don’t really stray too much- arrangement-wise, compared to the original Christmas-carol versions), it’d be better if you listen to the album on Spotify- repeatedly. And in all honesty, if it wasn’t for ‘While You Were Sleeping’, ‘Christmas Offering’ or even ‘I Heard the Bells’, I’m not even sure if I’d buy this album.

Reason to skip: While the Christmas carols can maybe be even too familiar for people, it’s the originally written songs that can be very unfamiliar, and maybe even turn people away, people who may not have heard Casting Crowns before, or their music. ‘While You Were Sleeping’ was from their second album Lifesong, just a verse re-written here, while ‘Christmas Offering’ is a Christmas version of the Paul Baloche worship song ‘Offering’. It can be these songs that can raise someone’s eyebrows, who’s just a casual listener of Christmas albums, and wonder why this album from Casting Crowns is very much ‘faith-based’ rather than just ‘holiday-centric’.

No. of carols: 7 (inclusive of 1 reworked carol ‘I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day’)

No. of originals: 3 (inclusive of a reworked Christmas edition of a Paul Baloche cover- ‘Christmas Offering’)

No of guest artists: None. But it is to be expected, Casting Crowns don’t really have any guests on any of their albums (except for Matthew West’s collab on ‘Nobody’ from their 2018 album Only Jesus)

Does it have heart?: Very much so- enthusiasm, passion, emotion, Casting Crowns have always been a band that have worn their heart on their sleeve, and it certainly doesn’t change with this album. Check out their vulnerable Christmas single ‘While You Were Sleeping’- it’s arguably one of the most confronting ‘Christmas’ songs I’ve heard in quite some time.

Does it have a Christmas-y atmosphere?: Yeah…I mean, kinda…sort of? There’s a lot of Biblically-based Christmas songs, as well as original Christmas songs, but often the lack of holiday-themed anthems (which may indeed alienate a group of people who only celebrate Christmas for familial/cultural reasons) can make someone really, really believe they are listening to a worship-styled album instead of a Christmas one.

Uniqueness?: No, not really. It has the same trademark music as any other Casting Crowns album. Don’t get me wrong, the songs are good, but at the end of the day, the ‘Christmas-y’ feeling isn’t as strong here on this album as it is on an album like Lincoln Brewster’s Joy to the World. I’m sure Mark and co. have tried their hardest with these 10 tracks, but if it wasn’t for the originally written/choreographed songs, the album wouldn’t be as enjoyable as even I found it!

Christmas message: Most definitely. Casting Crowns are known for their direct messages about the gospel and Christ’s unending love and salvation for all mankind in their songs and albums, and Peace on Earth continues to travel along this vein as well. Anyone who just wants a holiday album for the season and to not think about issues about Christmas and its eternal meaning for mankind, will be disappointed. So be sure to skip this album, and maybe put on a swinging album from Nat King Cole or Frank Sinatra to tie December over!

Closing thoughts: Fans of Casting Crowns? Buy this for sure. Fans of Christmas music? Check this album out on Spotify, definitely re-listen to the original tracks, but you can do away with the carols and maybe listen to other worship-inspired Christmas songs by artists like Chris Tomlin or MercyMe instead. For the young Christian who wants to know more about Christ, and the story of Jesus, this album is most certainly yours to listen on any streaming service. To buy…well, who buys albums nowadays, even Christmas ones? Listen on Spotify once, and then listen to the songs that speak to you again. Who knows, maybe this album will reignite a spark about Christmas in us all, especially during this year when we all need it!

3 songs to listen to: Christmas Offering, While You Were Sleeping, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Overall rating: 4/5

Yes/no; why/why not?: Check out the album on Spotify. If it’s too worshipful, then cherry-pick the songs you like. If you don’t mind the worship aspect, then this album deserves to be on repeat, again, and again and again!

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