Posted by Paul Baloche on 4 December 2015

Every November it was always the same; take down the Christmas file and pull out the classic Christmas carols. And every year I experienced the same mixed emotions…

On one hand it was always good to be reacquainted with these songs. They’re nostalgic and so many have great theology in them. But each year I knew that in the two months that were coming, we’d lose a vital aspect of our worship.

For ten months of the year we’d sing in the first person, making our worship personal. And we’d make it vertical too, singing to the Lord rather than singing about Him. But the carols take a different route. So many of them deal in narrative, creating the scene, describing the action.

It all changed for me the moment we sang "O Holy Night". We reached a sweet moment at the end of the song, and the words ‘O night divine’ were hanging in the air while a few people held their hands up in worship. It struck me how odd it was. ‘Wait a minute,’ I thought. ‘Are we really worshipping a night? This is awkward!’

So I began working out how we could touch on classic Christmas carols and let them stir up the theology, the narrative, the nostalgia, but then come out of it in a simple response. How could we give them a vertical chorus that allows people to respond in a personal way to the Lord?

The answer was keeping the original carols and matching them up with familiar choruses. Simple.

Now, I’m not Nat King Cole, Tony Bennet or Michael Buble. I’ve got an octave range and that’s it, but even so I found myself recording an album with Integrity in 2013. We called it Christmas Worship. It got some great feedback from worship teams and individuals who said that it had helped them to keep this attitude of worship throughout the season.

With people suggesting other songs, last year I took the ones we didn’t use first time around and carried on experimenting by adding in familiar choruses.

Christmas Worship volume 2 has songs like Joy "To The World" blended with "Our God Saves", "O Holy Night" (with Kathryn Scott) mixed with "Love Shines Bright", and "Angels From The Realms Of Glory" blended with "Praise Is Rising". It flows so well to sing those old familiar line about ‘come and worship’ and then flow into ‘Emmanuel, you are the God who saves us, worthy of all our praises, Lord have your way among us, we welcome you here Lord Jesus.’

That’s the Christmas posture right there.

More like this

Melody or Lyrics - what matters more?

I’m convinced that melody and lyrics are equally powerful. Both have a role to play when it comes to taking us on a journey – both in terms of what our faith is and what our response could be. The two go together. Melody writers are just as valuable as lyric writers.

A Simple Guide To Choosing Songs

One thing I have discovered in this process is the importance of “prepared spontaneity”— bringing many more songs than we will actually use. This allows us to adjust to the Spirit’s move in the moment — especially with band and lyric projection team in tow.

Matt Redman Brings Worship To Abbey Road

“When you’re part of bigger picture you’re shaping society.” Matt Redman on famous recording studios, Christian music and the reason why everyone has a part to play.