Christmas in September

I know it’s a little early to be thinking about Christmas, but this afternoon I spent some time in Matt Wahl’s office. He’s heads up graphic design for Sovereign Grace Ministries. We were looking at some of his ideas for the cover of our next music project, called “Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man.” It’s intended to be a kind of all-year-round Christmas CD, filled with primarily congregational songs that focus on the miracle of the incarnation.

If you’re like me, at the end of every year I look forward to pulling out the songs I’ve known since childhood that reflect on the glories of Savior’s birth and all it means. Last December I wrote a post on it. But each year I also hope to discover songs that not only communicate the glories of the incarnation, but tie that event into the reason God became man – to reconcile us to the Father. I’m also looking for songs that are fresh, both lyrically and musically. This year, we attempted to write some.

The project will contain twelve songs and will be released in early November, Lord willing. Sal Oliveri, who produced Valley of Vision for us, is heading up this project as well. We’ve gone in a more acoustic/percussion direction, with traces of Christmas elements throughout (sleigh bells and that kind of stuff). Here are words to one of the songs, "Emmanuel, Emmanuel," written by my good friend Mark Altrogge (pronounced with a long “o” and a hard “g”).

Verse 1

We have come today to worship

We have come to praise the One

Who came down into our darkness

Born a lowly virgin’s son

You who did not come with splendor 

Pomp and strength and majesty

You who came to us in weakness

Born to us in poverty


Emmanuel, Emmanuel, Emmanuel 

In You alone we hope and trust

Jesus, Savior, God with us


Verse 2

We were blind and lost and godless

Wandering a trackless waste

Then hope arose, a glorious beacon

Like the star the wise men chased

Down from heaven came a Savior

Born a child, so small and frail

Taking up our pain and troubles

Conquering where we had failed

Verse 3

You who with a word created

Sun and moon and seas and sand

Lay there sleeping in a manger

Cradled by Your mother’s hand

You who made the mighty forests

Would lie down upon a tree

Fastened there with nails for sinners

Would bleed and die to set us free

© Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI). Sovereign Grace Music, a division of Sovereign Grace Ministries.

I’ll keep you posted on our progress. In the mean time, I’d appreciate your prayers that God would use this CD to help more people celebrate and exalt Jesus, the God-Man sent to save us from our sins.

11 Responses to Christmas in September

  1. Lindele September 21, 2006 at 8:37 AM #

    Hurrah hurrah hurrah – I can’t wait! I love Christmas music, and y’all’s CDs just get better and better. I will be ordering this one the FIRST DAY it’s available.

  2. Drew September 21, 2006 at 8:56 AM #

    My only question – will we be able to get these songs for this year’s worship services? I was thrilled when this project was mentioned at WorshipGod. Incidentally, I just discovered “While the World Was Waiting,” and I think we bought some of the last copies of the anthem in the Word warehouse. Thank you so much for that song. We need more songs that articulate the truths (rather than romanticize the Victorian imagery) of Christmas.

    As far as the cover, it may be tired, but I keep thinking of variations of an infant’s hand or profile. No idea how to capture the image of the mystery – unlimited power and presence made frail flesh. Unbelievable!

  3. Michelle September 21, 2006 at 12:48 PM #

    I’m already excited about the Christmas CD! I attended my first Sovereign Grace conference at WorshipGod06. My passion for God and music was greatly renewed! I so appreciate the commitment that Sovereign Grace has to writing and producing truly God-centered music.

  4. Bobby September 21, 2006 at 12:52 PM #

    I especially like that last verse. As a hymn writer myself, and one who grew up in a cult that denied the Son’s preexistence before His virgin birth, I love to tie in His preincarnational activity and role in Creation with the fact that He came to us in lowly state.

    Sounds like this will be a great album.

  5. John Houchins September 21, 2006 at 2:18 PM #

    I absolutely love Christmas time and Christmas “carols”. I will sing and whistle the songs all year round (Driving my co-workers crazy at times).

    I am looking forward to this Sovereign Grace project to be completed. Thank you for doing this, and may it be a joyful sound lifted to the Lord through out the world.

  6. phil September 21, 2006 at 4:07 PM #

    Thanks for this project! I am looking forward to enjoying it this season. Celebrating the Son of God’s incarnation is a true reason for praise. Had he not shed heaven like a robe, to be clothed in frail flesh, the rest of us would remain clothed in the unacceptable garments of our own sinfulness. What a reason to celebrate!

    Thank you for your part in the Sovereign Grace Music. You are a true gift to the body of Christ, brother! Sovereign Grace music has really helped my private worship, giving joy-filled music to precious theology. It has also been a help to churches like mine, who seek to incorporate Christ-centered, God-glorifying lyrics in a contemporary genre. Thanks!

  7. Eric Schumacher September 23, 2006 at 1:48 PM #

    This sounds like a fabulous project! May the Lord be glorified in it!

  8. Cristina Irizarry September 25, 2006 at 11:05 PM #

    Very nice song. I love how it`s so Christ centered and it really reflects what the season is all about.

  9. Joanna September 26, 2006 at 5:06 PM #

    I love all SG music-well, at least the cds I have so far. Valley of Vision is absolutely wonderful. :)
    I’m a fairly new “reformed” believer, having been in arminian churches for over 20 years. I so appreciate the theology in the songs y’all are writing.
    Keep them coming. :)

  10. Kent McCune September 28, 2006 at 10:40 AM #

    A new song I have recently come across that starts with the Christmas theme in verse one and proceeds through Christ’s ministry (similar to Joy To The World) is “Glorious Impossible”, by Beck and others. The Gaither Vocal Band recorded it on their latest CD, “Give It Away”. The song has very doctrinally rich lyrics about our Savior (surprise for GVB) written quite poetically. You don’t always get both. I would give you an example of the lyrics here, but I don’t think that is appropriate vis-a-vis copyright laws. The chorus is an “Alleluia” response to the tremendous verse lyrics. This would probably make a great song for public worship. Anyway, I think it fits perfectly with the type of songs you describe in this post.

  11. Mark Tubbs October 18, 2006 at 10:24 PM #

    Well, Bob. Although I love the song samples, I have to point out that in all orthographical conscientiousness, we Canadian Sovereign Gracers cannot accept the spelling of Saviour as ‘Savior.’ Perhaps a boycott is in order…but in all seriousness (or should I say ‘seriosness’?) we are looking forward to its release, to the glory of our incarnated Saviour.



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