Release Date: November 29th 2019
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Sing We the Song of Emmanuel
- Oh Holy Night
- Little Drummer Boy
- The First Noel
- O Come O Come Emmanuel
Shane and Shane don’t need any introduction. The duo have been creating music and a name for themselves over the years, yet it was from 2014 onward where the duo started making their mark on the worship music industry- since 2014 onward as they launched the Worship Initiative Website, online toolkit and worship resource program alongside various albums of cover worship songs (songs that are popular in churches around the world) that have released at periodic times throughout the last few years. Often at times Shane and Shane record the worship songs in a much better structure and atmosphere compared to the original recordings…and that is ok. Shane Bernard and Shane Everett; both of whom make up this duo, have been undertaking this ministry for a while now (since 2014) and have since amassed 21 volumes (18 full length albums and 3 EPs) full of worship covers. Let’s just say that every worship song you could think of, they would’ve done a worship cover of it within one of their 21 volumes. And most, if not all of them, are comparable to the original.
Shane & Shane also unveiled yet another series aside from their worshipful covers, titled A Worship Initiative Christmas, their first volume releasing in 2014, and their second volume unveiled to us in 2018. Just recently in 2019, the duo gave to us yet another offering of ‘The Worship Initiative Christmas’ with a 5 song EP- and so appropriately in this ‘Christmas in July’ period, I found it fitting enough to listen to this EP and write a few of my thoughts on it. And so Shane & Shane have boldly declared this Christmas hymns, both on their first and second Christmas albums and now this one, as we’re reminded in this collection of 5 songs, that impactful and encouraging melodies need not to just be modern worship songs, but rather, what this Christmas carol EP by the Shanes gives a reminder of, is this: that songs of yesteryear, songs that are ‘only’ sung when Christmas comes around, can still be (and most certainly are) very powerful and emotive- maybe even as much or more so, in comparison to the modern worship songs we sing for the other 11 months of the year! Let’s just say that Shane Everett and Shane Barnard have unveiled to us a Christmas collection we want to play on repeat again and again and again- sure these renditions aren’t as anthemic and orchestral as songs from Michael W. Smith, or as ingenious as songs from Pentatonix, but the fact of the matter still stands- Christmas carols still have their place in modern day society, and if this EP from Shane & Shane gives us a glimpse into such a resonant fact, then these 5 songs and the execution of them, is a reminder of a job well done for this seasoned worship-cover duo!
Looking through the song list of 5, and we see four of them are covers of Christmas carols we all know- as well as an ‘original’ written Christmas song thrown in for good measure. ‘Oh Holy Night’, one of my favourite Christmas carols ever, is present here on Worship Initiative Christmas – EP, while the songs ‘Little Drummer Boy’, ‘The First Noel’ and ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’, all on this EP, are melodies that we have sung at one point or another during the Christmas holiday season. The last remaining track ‘Sing We the Song of Emmanuel’, a song written by indie-worship leader Matt Papa and made famous by Keith and Kristyn Getty, is presented by Shane & Shane here on this EP, and as we hear this hymn-like track, we’re reminded of the intentionality and purposefulness of the Christmas story we all know so well, but maybe often take for granted, for whatever reason. As we see this melody structured like a hymn, we see the relevance and necessity of hymns in everyday life, and how the ever-reliable stanza 1-2-3 is something that has worked for years upon years- and here in this track is no different. More a worship song than a song to be intentionally sung during Christmas-time, this Matt Papa-written track is a powerful and poignant track, and one of my favourite originally written melodies ever since Phil Wickham’s ‘Face of God’ a couple of years ago.
Worship Initiative Christmas – EP is a must have for anyone who appreciates and enjoys worship music and Christmas music- both the Christ-centred and the holiday kind. Dare I say that Shane and Shane are even about to rival Phillips, Craig and Dean as the group of all groups who create great worship covers? Because maybe, just maybe, Shane and Shane have the edge. In fact, they do. With currently now 21 albums and 3 EPs full of popular worship songs under their belt, alongside now 3 volumes of Christmas melodies to share with us, and an album full of vintage 1990s classic CCM melodies; Shane and Shane and their ministry at equipping churches around the world with songs that encourage and impact, show us just how committed they are to their ministry. While the duo may not be publicised in radio as much as before, their passion and heart are still present and infectious, as is every song on this EP, that oozes enthusiasm and encouragement. Well done Shane & Shane for this Christmas EP, can’t wait for The Worship Initiative Vol. 22, whenever it releases!
3 songs to listen to: Sing We the Song of Emmanuel, Little Drummer Boy, Oh Holy Night
RIYL: Phil Wickham, Bethel Music, Chris Tomlin, Hillsong Worship