Release Date: October 6th 2017
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Angels From The Realms Of Glory
- O Come All Ye Faithful
- I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
- See Amid the Winter’s Snow
- Mary Did You Know/What Child Is This
- Hark The Herald Angels Sing
- Fear Not
- Let Us Be
- The Story Of Christmas Medley
- The First Noel
It’s around 2 months until Christmastime, and you know what that means? That’s right, it’s time to review Christmas songs and albums! Last year there were quite a few Christmas albums that released (and you can read all we posted about Christmas last year and the year before here!), and this year it’s no different. Point Of Grace is one such artist, with the trio having just released yet another Christmas album Sing Noel just a few weeks ago. Forming as an all-female vocal group more than 20 years ago, Point of Grace have delivered powerful and heartfelt melodies and wowed us more times than we can imagine. Their stirring radio singles and poignant, reflective ballads have touched the lives of many, with songs such as “How You Live”, “Steady On”, “Gather At The River”, “Keep The Candle Burning”, “Blue Skies”, “You Will Never Walk Alone”, “Day By Day” and “I Choose You” each earning a place in our hearts as we hear such honesty and utter devotion to Jesus Christ.
Though Leigh Cappillino, Denise Jones and Shelley Breen last released new material in A Thousand Little Things way back in 2012, as well as a covers album Directions Home three years later, one may think the band is running out of ideas if they are resorting to their 5th Christmas project. Yet with 10 tracks of songs Point Of Grace have never recorded at all (it’s amazing how these 5 releases do not overlap!); this release is something to tie us over until the group decide to release all new original material. I’d say that brand new songs are releasing in 2018, but I just don’t know. So let’s sit back, and sing along with the ladies of POG, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas this upcoming busy season.
With Leigh, Denise and Shelley sticking to their adult contemporary style in recording Christmas covers, we are blessed to hear a smorgasbord of melodies that touch the soul and sooth the heart. The upbeat slightly electronic infused and explosive rare carol “Angels From The Realms Of Glory” opens proceedings, complete with bell chimes, as the trio ardently give God praise and declare ‘…come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn King…’; while “O Come All Ye Faithful”, an electric guitar mid-tempo ballad, takes the tempo down a bit (but not by much, as the song changes and morphs into a 90’s dance party!), as we are blessed to hear a worship melody proclaiming ‘…o come let us adore Him Christ the Lord…’; and the most obscure “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day”, led by the piano, is a lullaby-ish track that takes a while getting used to, but is nonetheless impacting and comforting, as we remember that Christmas Day signifies the fact that because of Jesus’ birth, there is peace on earth and good will to men. Though I enjoy Casting Crowns’ “Peace On Earth” a whole lot better; Point Of Grace’s rendition is nevertheless quite compelling and enthralling, as we are captivated by each of the three vocalists singing together in perfect harmony.
I have never heard of “See Amid The Winter’s Snow” before, but apparently that’s a carol, according to Wikipedia- and Point of Grace cover this song with aplomb and professionalism, as they use old English as well to convey the message that Jesus is born in Bethlehem, so we should give Him all the praises. While medleys are abound here also, as “Mary Did You Know” and “What Child Is This” are both married together in a piano prominent mash-up that is quite seamless and vocally very captivating; and the extra-long “The Story Of Christmas Medley” (and a personal album highlight!) includes three songs (“Tell Me The Story Of Jesus”, “Away In A Manger” and “Silent Night”) while also comprised of each of the three members reading out the Christmas story from bible verses- the story of Jesus for those who may not be familiar. The final two familiar carols presented here are the electronic synth and keys influenced “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” (complete with remix effects, and would not be out of place in a dance club or bar!) and the piano prominent slower tempo “The First Noel”, which though isn’t that inventive, is still impacting and powerful, as the trio emphatically sing out ‘…Noel, noel, noel, noel, born is the King of Israel…’.
Yet it is the original recordings of “Fear Not” and “Let Us Be” that immediately strike a chord with me. In the former, Denise, Shelley and Leigh sing from the point of view of the angel Gabriel, reassuring Joseph and Mary (in the first verse), and the shepherds (the second verse) not to fear and not to worry, because God is with us, and He will never leave us; and it’s just as relevant today as it was back then- many adversities may strike us down, but with Jesus by our side, there should be and there is nothing to fear. And in the latter melody; we are presented with a radio friendly CCM pop ballad, also worshipful in the sense that the three vocalists earnestly relay to us that it is our directive and our mission to right now point people to Jesus through the love of Jesus Christ in our actions and generally our unconventional and crazy lives. With the trio singing out ‘…let us be joy to the world, let us be peace on the earth, that all would sing ‘Come let us adore Him’, let us be wonders of heavenly grace, hope and love, that all would sing ‘Come let us adore Him’, o come let us adore Him…’, I believe there probably isn’t a more inspiring original Christmas worship song right now than this one, ever since Michael W. Smith’s “All Is Well”. Well done Point Of Grace for challenging me in one of today’s most inspiring Christmas albums, ever since Michael W. Smith’s the Spirit Of Christmas way back in 2014!
With an amazing repertoire of songs already recorded, Sing Noel is an album to be savoured this holiday season, and listened to again and again as we dwell upon Jesus coming to earth as a baby and saving us through becoming the Saviour for all mankind all those years ago. Shelley, Leigh and Denise have sung their hearts out, and made their versions of famous carols their own. Having me very excited for the next full length all original album (in 2018 maybe?), you will not be disappointed when you listen to this project, even though it only contains 2 original songs. Well done ladies, for a sublime effort, and I hope many people are blessed by your efforts!
3 songs to listen to: Hark The Herald Angels Sing, Let Us Be, The Story Of Christmas Medley
RIYL: Carrie Underwood, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, Avalon