Wednesday, December 29, 2010

If We Make It Through December

Not all of the songs of December and the Advent season are happy.  The sound of sleigh bells, children singing, Christmas gifts, the Christmas tree in the city square, the celebrations, the worship services, and the like all heap festivity upon festivity.  But the realities of economics, loneliness, and failures are still a part of life.

It is not just Ebenezer Scrooge who reacts with a "Bah Humbug" to the season. After a few trips to the mall, to Target, the Wal-Mart, I felt the same reaction.  Now in the post-Christmas collapse, with a whole day being tied up with returns and exchanges, I remember the darker songs of the season.

The most well-known dark Christmas song has been Elvis' "Blue Christmas."  The tone of the song has a hope of promise in it.  The shadows are of what might be, not what unchangeable will be. It's up to her. Of course, if you are Elvis, prospects are pretty good that she'll come back.  Most folks whose talents, wealth, and looks are below those of Elvis have to deal with less certain odds.

Ernest Tubb, who influenced Elvis and lots of other singers, had a great song many decades ago.  Titled "Christmas is Just Another Day for Me," it bemoans having a broken heart beneath a Christmas tree. "Old friends call me up and say, 'Have a happy holiday,' but I can't bear to say you're gone, and I'm so alone..." It is as good as any country heart-break song.  Like country's music's southern and black cousin, the blues, this song will tear your heart out.

Bluegrass singer Jimmy Martin hit all the right notes in a song called "Lord, We Sure Could Use Some Rainbows in December."  As he sings, "We got gifts to buy and all the same old bills are overdue."  I have, myself, sung that line many times in recent weeks.

And the older, classical, and Baroque tradition has its own melancholy song.  "The Coventry Carol," an incredibly beautiful combination of words and music, is a lullaby sung to keep a baby asleep.  The reason was to keep the baby quiet during Herod's slaughter of the innocents.

On of my many favorite songs, although we don't usually classify it as part of the Advent music collection, is Merle Haggard's hit of a few decades back, called "If We Make It Through December." I did hear it played on a local radio station that played all Christmas music.  Haggard's appeal in that song, and in many other of his fine works, was to those who had endured the hard-scrabble life, whether it was that of Depression era farmers, or Okies in either Muskogee or California, or working class people whose lives are on the outside boundary of the American dream.

Yet, these songs, like those of coal miners, small farmers, factory hands,  and other hard-working people holds out a bit of hope.  In this case, the hope is for warmer weather (it is cold and rainy outside as I write this), a better location, and some new chances to start again. The pain of the song, the singer having lost his job and having a sad little girl, testifies to an underlying, never stated, love. Love for family with a willingness to persevere.

Jesus came into a world of people wondering if they could make it through December.  California can only properly been seen as a metaphor of the Kingdom of Heaven (although not a good metaphor).  The hardships the song relays reminds me that the bloated credit card bill that will arrive next week is only a minor hill to climb.

"If We Make It Through December" by Merle Haggard

If we make it through December
Everythings gonna be all right I know.
It's the coldest time of winter
And I shivver when I see the fallin snow.

If we make it through December
I got plans of bein in a warmer town come summer time
Maybe even California
If we make it through December we'll be fine

I got laid off down at the factory
And their timings not the greatest in the world.
Heaven knows I been workin' hard
I wanted Christmas to be right for daddy's girl

Now I don't mean to hate December;
It's meant to be the happy time of year,
And why my little girl don't understand
Why daddy can't afford no Christmas here.

If we make it through December
Everythings gonna be alright I know.
It's the coldest time of winter
And I shivver when I see the fallin' snow

If we make it through December
I got plans of bein' in a warmer town come summer time.
Maybe even California
If we make it through December we'll be fine

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Bowl

By Nick
At this festive season of the year, the radios and loudspeakers in stores bombard us with a barrage of Christmas tunes. There is nothing wrong with this; Christmas is probably the only time in which the Gospel is (unwittingly) promoted in major retailer and on mainstream radio stations, and I would certainly rather do Christmas shopping to Bing Crosby than Bon Jovi. However, the same songs and same versions of songs being played over and over again starts to wear on you, and after one has heard "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" for the tenth time, one is tempted to swear off Christmas completely. One local radio station, 101.7 Bob FM, has done a good job in combating this musical staleness with an amazing variety of music ranging from the popular to the incredibly obscure. However, variety does not always mean quality, and along with some great new songs I have also heard some holiday clunkers (More on those later). This means that the dedicated listeners will resort to CDs.
     The proprietors of this blog managed to purchase some excellent CDs at that great storehouse of musical excellence, Big Lots, for the bargain price of $2 per CD. The first CD that we purchased was generically titled Peace with a stock photo of snowy woods on the cover. Also on the cover was a blurb with the artists featured on the CD, which included Jars of Clay, Keb' Mo', Kate Bush, Alicia Keys, and Johnny Cash. Naturally I had to buy this.
The CD starts off with Vertical Horizon's alternative rock interpretation of "I Believe in Father Christmas", followed up by Jars of Clay's "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen." The album then takes a jazzy, minimalistic turn with "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by Aimee Mann, the Gordon Lightfoot-penned"Song for a Winter's Night" by Sarah McLachlan, and the traditional "Love Came Down at Christmas" by Shawn Colvin. These songs all have a lazy, midafternoon relaxing feel. Next comes not just Johnny Cash, but Johnny Cash backed up by the Statler Brothers. The song sounds like a younger Johnny Cash, and the sound quality is not great, but it's Johnny Cash, so I'm not complaining. Johnny is nearly upstaged by bluesman Keb' Mo' and his improvisational "Jingle Bell Jamboree". Keb' Mo's plays and sings in such a relaxed manner that you could easily imagine him playing all day without stopping. This song is the highlight of the album, combining raspy vocals with fluid guitars and adding an extra-large dose of Christmas cheer.Kate Bush comes next with her weird and experimental rendition of "Home For Christmas." This is appropriate because Kate Bush is weird and experimental. Chris Botti, the trumpet guy, serves up the romantic "Perfect Day", about how his woman makes every day like Christmas, and Rachel Yamagata gives us the romantically weepy "River" ("I wish I had a river I could skate away on.) The only clinker on this album is Alicia Keys' vaugely-gospel tinged "Little Drummer Girl." The heavy beats and overdone delivery on this song clash with the minimalism of the rest of this album. Five For Fighting finishes out the album with "Silent Night", making use of his falsetto vocals and understated guitar.
 The second bargain CD purchased was "Stockings by the Fire", put out by Starbucks Entertainment. Starbucks has managed to select a good mix of of classic Jazz/Swing and modern indie/soft rock on this collection. It starts out with Ray Charles and Betty Carter performing "Baby, It's Cold Outside". Voices like those only come around once in a millenium. Sarah McLachlan follows it up with a minimalistic spin on "I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day", written by that Yankee Imperialist, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The everpresent Frank Sinatra and his I'm-singing-through-a-carboard-tube vocals show up next with "I'll Be Home for Christmas (If Only in My Dreams.) Love him or hate him, there's no denying the man's talent. The folk-rock band Hem (not to be confused with the Gothic Rock band HIM) gives another minimalistic (see a pattern here) take on "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Ella Fitzgerald does an amazing job on "Sleigh Ride.", although I'm convinced that if Ella Fitzgerald sang "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" it would have been good. Rufus Wainwright gives a nasally rendition of "What Are You Doing New Years Eve?" While it's almost impossible to ruin such a good song, Wainwright's alternative rock stylings clash with the Tin Pan Alley feel of the song. Herbie Hancock joins forces with Corinne Bailey Rae doing their version of "River", which, like many jazz songs, is slow and sort of tuneless. It's by no means a bad song, but it sounds very little like the original, and Rae, like most vocalist, flubs the "fly-y-y" in the middle of the song. Jack Johnson, steps in to save the day with possibly the best rendition of "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer." Jack adds a new verse after the traditional verses where Rudolph tells the other reindeer  "I see through your silly games. How could you look me in the face when only yesterday you called me names?" the bird and the bee give us their weird and futuristic version of "Carol of The Bells", which changes keys multiple times. A Fine Frenzy gives us a weak version of "Let It Snow." While it holds up musically, the breathy femals vocals make the song flabby and indecisive. Nat King Cole, who deserved the "King" in his name, gives us his Christmas classic "The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)." Anyone who doesn't own a copy of Nat's rendition of this song should consider themselves deprived. The tipsy Dean Martin swaggers his way through "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm." The amazing Diana Krall sings "Winter Wonderland", complete with all those amazing jazz solos that are in every Diana Krall song. Gospel legend Mahalia Jackson sings "Do You Hear What I Hear" and Gospel-influenced John Legend and family sing "It Don't Have to Change", a song filled with Christmas memories of playing football and basketball and singing all day. This contrasts with my Christmas memories, which are mainly of playing video games and eating all day. Aimee Mann (Remember her from the first CD?) closes out the album with a soft "White Christmas."
     These two albums are great for listening to at any time of day, but especially midafternoon. For those looking for a break from Bruce Springsteen screaming "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", and flop artists ruining classic Christmas songs, check out these two CDs.

Currently Listening: Andre Rieu and Friends, Superstar Christmas, The CDs mentioned above.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bluegrass Christmas Music

Bluegrass music has a natural affinity for Christmas themes.  After all, Christmas is a time to praise God, gather with the family, go back to the homeplace, enjoy mountains, music, and snow, and a time to sing and celebrate.  Bluegrass music is a music of the folks, a bowing to tradition, the rhythms and cadences of ordinary life with pauses to celebrate.  And bluegrass music has a strong Christian component.  The naturalness of the acoustic instruments, the gifts of the musicians, and the heart-felt themes are all testimonies of a Christian worldview.  And bluegrass music combines the shameful indulgence of a Saturday night bootleg whiskey drinking and brawling binge with the Sunday morning reconciliation found around the cross, or the manger, of Jesus.

In 1950, when the music was both reaching greater and greater defining points and yet was already a definite genre of its own, Tex Logan, a scientific engineer with Bell Labs in Texas, penned the first bluegrass Christmas song.  Titled "Christmas Times a'Comin," it was a made to order sure fit for bluegrass master and originator Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys.  Just read the lyrics:

Snow flake's a-fallin'
My old heart's a-callin'
Tall pine's a-hummin'
Christmas Time's A-Comin'.

Can't you hear them bells ringin', ringin'
Joy, don'tcha hear them singin'
When it's snowin', I'll be goin'
Back to my country home.

Refrain: Christmas Time's A-Comin'
Christmas Time's A-Comin'
Christmas Time's A-Comin'
And I know I'm goin' home.

White candle's burnin'
My old heart's a-yearnin'
For the folks at home when
Christmas Time's A-Comin'.

Can't you hear them bells ringin', ringin'
Joy, don'tcha hear them singin'
When it's snowin', I'll be goin'
Back to my country home.

The dropping of the 'g's at the end of each line reflects the English (as in, from England) pure roots of Southern language. (See Cleanth Brooks' The Language of the South.)  The use of words like "home," "folks," and "yearnin" all reflect very powerful themes within bluegrass music's closeness to what William Faulkner called "that fierce pull of blood."  In other words, people working up in Detroit, or off in Houston, or elsewhere could identify with that strong urge to get off work, maybe as late as December 24, hop in the car with the family and get back to the country to see the whole family.

Strangely enough, Monroe's song remained one of the few bluegrass Christmas songs for years.  Country artists added some additional Christmas songs.  Gene Autry was, after all, a singing cowboy, and his great hit was "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer."  And Elvis was, along with every other niche he fit into, a country singer, and his big hit was "Blue Christmas," which was covered by quite a few country artists. In time, country artists produced a few more Christmas songs and albums.

The Bluegrass musicians still did not produce much.  Perhaps it was because bluegrass music thrived from the 1960s on through the festivals.  Following a revival of folk music, starving bluegrass artists suddenly found ready audiences in such places as Newport, Rhode Island and Bean Blossom, Indiana.  But the festivals did not take place usually in the Christmas season.  And bluegrass albums cut a small piece of the music sales pie.  With the popularity of Celtic instrumentals at Christmas, it is surprising that bluegrass didn't have a greater impact.

Little by little, bluegrass artists have recorded more and more Christmas songs.  Both Ralph Stanley and Ricky Skaggs have Christmas albums.  Still, some of the best bluegrass Christmas music can be found on collections featuring various artists.

One I recently acquired and one that is a real bargain is Christmas Times a Comin': The Essential Bluegrass Christmas Collection.  Produced by Time/Life, this truly is a wonderful assembly of artists and songs.  Monroe does the title song, along with another called "That's Christmas Time to Me."  The Stanley Brothers perform "Christmas is Near" and Ralph and his band do "That's Christmas Time to Me."  Del McCoury and some of his gang, including Mac Wiseman, perform a fun song, "A Bluegrass Christmas," and then later one of those heart-rending songs about Momma, called "Call Collect on Christmas."  Add to all this, Emmylou Harris, the great Jimmy Martin performing "Old Fashioned Christmas," Larry Sparks and others.  That ain't an intruder in the group.  Banjoes, fiddles, mandolins, bass fiddles, acoustic guitars, and the high lonesome tones of bluegrass singing dominate the whole recording.

After a day of enduring malls, traffic, human clogs of shoppers, over-stimulation of the senses from the bombardment of the stores, this album is a trip along a dirt road, up ahead, I can see the homeplace, a tree can be seen in the window....

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bing and Burl

By Nick
In this blog's "Advent Meditation" series, we have been highlighting some lesser known Christmas CDs. In this post, however, we intend to dig back into the (metaphorical) record bin and pull out some great classic Christmas albums.
     The fifties were known as an era for great smooth voices. There was the smug Frank Sinatra, the tipsy-sounding Dean Martin, Perry Como, and dozens of other "crooners." Perhaps the best smooth male singer of the fifties, though, was the velvet-voiced Bing Crosby. Bing's voice is amazing, even (or especially) after sixty years. Hearing Bing's smooth baritone is a pleasant surprise in a musical world which is so highly influenced by Elvis, The Beatles, and Bob Dylan. And yes, I am a fan of Elvis, The Beatles, and Bob Dylan, but vocally, none of them (except perhaps Elvis) could hold a candle to Bing.
     Bing's signature Christmas album is White Christmas. On it, he performs a wide variety of Christmas songs, ranging from Hawaiian ("Mele Kalikimaka"), to Irish ("Christmas in Killarney"). Unlike many crooner albums, which seem to drown in a sea of syrup, Bing masters the art of mixing the sweet with the hot, as the old school jazz cats would say. His recording of "Jingle Bells" with the Andrew's Sisters is a swing masterpiece, with great musicianship from the players and singer's alike. And no one could sing ballads like Bing. Besides the title cut, there is his reverent treatment of the hymn "Faith of Our Fathers", his sweeping "Silent Night", and "Adeste Fideles", which the Latin-illiterate know as "O' Come All Ye Faithful." Bing, being a purist, sings the song in both Latin and English. The album is an essential part of anyone's collection. 
     There is also an excellent budget CD floating around called Bing and Friends Christmas. Half of the songs are by Bing, the other half are by artists contemporary with him.  This CD is excellent because it contains Bing recordings that are rather hard to find. Bing sings three duets with the amazing Ella Fitzgerald on this CD. Interestingly, their version of "Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer" has extra verses detailing what happened to Rudolph after he became famous, and tell of his riding in fancy cars and smoking big cigars. Imagine trying to play that on contemporary radio. Also on the collection are the silky voiced Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, whose "I-eat-gravel-for-breakfast" voice is almost a polar opposite of Bing and Nat's, the everpresent Frank Sinatra doing a greasy rendition of "The Christmas Song", and Vera Lynn, who gives us "The Little Boy That Santa Forgot." She obviously didn't get the memo about "tis the season to be jolly."
     Bing Crosby also performed and recorded some country songs along with his more pop efforts, saying that he was the "biggest hillbilly of them all."
     On the flip side of the coin, you have the Santa-esque Burl Ives. In his time Burl Ives was a pre-Dylan folksinger. However, he is probably best known now for his Christmas hit "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas", and the album of the same name. Burl's voice is very warm and joyful, and he sounds like he could be your uncle. On this album, he combines his folk singing with a more pop style. However, he keeps a folk sound on songs like "Christmas is a Birthday" and "The Christmas Child." Whenever I listen to Burl Ives, it is like he is in the room, telling me a story personally. Burl's and Bing's standout Christmas albums should be in everyone's collection.
Currently Listening: "Christmastime is Here", Vince Guaraldi Trio. "Silent Night", The Temptations. "Sing Me to Sleep", Fran Healy featuring Neko Case.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Comment and Maybe Win a Christmas CD

In conjunction with the Nathan Clark George Web-site, we are promoting a GIVE-AWAY of George's newest Christmas CD, Still.  This collection consists of more traditional Christian celebrations of Christ's incarnation and birth, performed with acoustic guitar and mandolin.  George is joined by Mark Stoffel and Ross Sermons on the collection. 

If you want a small sample of the music on this CD, go to the web-site at

To register to WIN a copy of this CD, simply COMMENT on this blog OR e-mail me at

The drawing from our collection of commenters and e-mailers will be held next Wednesday, December 15.  The CD will be mailed to the winner from the Nathan Clark George web-site and store.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Baroque, Traditional Latin, and Christian

More Pleasant Music for the Advent Season

The Musical Heritage Society produces loads of classical and concert music collections.  You may find yourself getting their offers in the mail for so many free CDs if you agree to buy several more over the next year or so.  The offers are good deals.  My only problem is that I forget to mail in the cards rejecting each month's special.  That aside, the musical collection shown above, Julianne Baird & The Aulos Ensemble: A Baroque Christmas, was given to us some years ago.  The music is powerful and Julianne Baird's voice is incredible.  I especially like the Coventry Carol.  This is more good, calming morning Advent music, best accompanied by a good book and strong coffee.

Veni Emmanuel was produced by Classical Academic Press, a publisher of curriculum for Classical Christian schools.  These traditional Latin hymns and carols are rich reminders of the wealth and heritage of Christian and Advent music reaching back through the centuries, blending the classical learning of Antiquity with the glorious relevation of Christ.

From the product description:

Veni Emmanuel, the debut music CD from Classical Academic Press, is a collection of hauntingly beautiful carols, written centuries ago by great scholars, musicians and poets for the celebration of Christmas. Some tunes will be familiar, and some new to our 21st century ears. All in Latin, laced with theology and beautiful poetry, rediscover the rich heritage of sacred Christmas music through the ages. The collection includes carols with lyrics or music from the fifth century through 1900. Recorded with harp, piano, recorder, violin and voice.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Still the Greatest Story Ever Told

Posted by Ben

Some years back, Stephanie and I went to a Gaither Family Concert in Shreveport, Louisiana.  The tickets were a Christmas gift from a family member.  Not only was the concert quite good and encouraging, but I first heard the song "Mary Was the First One To Carry The Gospel" at that concert.  Some time later, I bought the CD Still The Greatest Story Ever Told becasue it that contained that song.  (I should mention that Reformed people are not supposed to like the Gaither Quartet, Southern Gospel, and popular Christian music.  I have gotten odd looks and comments when I mentioned the Gaither Family Concert in TR circles.)  Critics and Scrooges aside, this CD is a marvelous collection of music.

The lead song is a powerful John Donne-like celebration of Mary's wonderous role in redemption's plan.  The harmonies of the group are great, and I love it when the line is sung "what the prophet told has come to pass: a virgin has conceived" and there is a scream of delight in the background.  (Some John Donne poetry calls for screams of excitement.) 

The other songs on this collection are mostly Gaither Quartet arrangements and creations.  The only traditional Christmas song is "The Christmas Song" ("Chestnuts roasting on an open fire....").  One of the greatest songs on the collection is Mark Lowery's "Mary, Did You Know?"  That song sends chills up my spine every time I hear it.  Modern song writers do not always pen the greatest lyrics, and we usually only sing a slim selection of the great song writers of the past, but they all have their high points.  "Mary, Did You Know?" is certainly a high point in Lowery's song writing career and a great praise song.

The Gaither Quartet at the time of this recording had a remarkably smooth blend of singers.  You have harmony, with volume, with strong masculine voices, with excitement, and with musical slides that are amazing.  With Guy Penrod, who can wear long hair and look manly, Mark Lowery, equally talented as a singer and comedian, David Phelps, an incredible tenor, and Bill Gaither, the guiding inspiritation of the group and the greater Gaither productions, this was a gathering and blending of extraordingary talent. 

The songs on this CD are much more lively and upbeat than the songs on the CDs previously highlighted.  This is not coffee drinking/theology reading music; rather, it is great for getting revved up for the day.  This is dominion theology with lyrics and melodies designed to focus the heart and mind on the season.  This music reminds us of the joy of the Advent season.

1. Mary Was the First One to Carry the Gospel

2. New Star Shining

3. Reaching

4. Little One

5. It's Still the Greatest Story Ever Told

6. Christmas Song, The

7. Mary, Did You Know?

8. Go Tell Everyone

9. Hand of Sweet Release

10. He Started the Whole World Singing

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Advent Meditations

Posted by Ben

Cultivating the right moods and attitudes about the upcoming Christmas season and the Advent season is difficult. This past week, I was busy preaching a sermon on Sunday, completing a writing assignment (that consumed the Thanksgiving holidays) on Monday, preparing progress reports and teaching classes, taking 2 kids to Upward basketball practices, and attending three Christmas music programs (with a piano recital this afternoon).

There is hardly a time to sit back and relax and enjoy the season. Life in a fallen world is busy; life with 4 children and a wife is busy; God has called us to labor. So meditation, thought, relaxed time with family, books, and music are all difficult to cultivate.

I love the music of the season. I love the traditional songs, the classic renditions done by Bing Crosby, Louie Armstrong, and others, the hymns, the wintery songs, the silly songs, the sentimental songs, the instrumentals, the choral productions, the name artists performing traditional songs, etc. And yet, I find myself frequently bored with the Sappy Claus songs. Some of that is fine for the radio while negotiating Texarkana's traffic clogs, but at home, with coffee and a book, I want a sound that is comforting, largely acoustic, with an older feel, and a seasonal warmth (not a confrontation).

That is why I am enjoying the two albums featured below so much.

A Midwinter's Eve by Nathan Clark George & Mark Stoffel

First featured last week on this blog, this CD has the relaxing feel pictured on the album cover.  The music consists of George playing guitar and vocals and Stoffel playing mandolin with occasional vocals.  Several of the 14 songs are instrumentals. Some of the songs are traditional advent hymns, such as "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night," "Silent Night," and "What Child Is This?"  Then there some of the songs that are truly the greatest for the beginning of Advent, such as "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" and the hallowing "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence."  A song I really love is Christina Rossetti's "In the Bleak Mid-Winter."  (Rossetti is one of our greatest Christian poets.) There are other songs brought in from the greater traditions of Christendom, such as "Es Wird Scho Glei Dumpa."  This instrumental,  the title translated as "It will soon be dark,"  is a traditional Christmas folk song from the Southern Tyrolian Alps.  Also, in the "not familiar category," is "O Little Sweet One," which is an old German melody whose lyrics and harmony are by Johann S. Bach.  Perhaps my favorite on the CD is "Remember, O Thou Man," which is by Thomas Ravenscroft, from "Melismata" (1611).  Consider the verse from this song given below:
Remember, O thou man, O thou man, O thou man,
Remember, O thou man, that God above,
Long before time began knew of the sin of man,
And laid Redemption's plan, for He is love. 
Watch this blog (or Houseblog) for a great upcoming offer to WIN a copy of Nathan Clark George's newest Christmas CD, Still.  Or, if you cannot wait, rush over to Nathan Clark George's website (linked above and on the side bar) and cyber shop, picking up several of George's CDs.

I am also enjoying listening to If On a Winter's Night by Sting.  Last year, my friend and our school librarian, Becky Ramsey, loaned me and Nick her copy of this CD.  We all--the whole House family--fell in love with this music and had to buy our own copy.  This album also consists of soft, largely acoustic songs with a strongly Medieval feel.

From the back of the CD case: 
"Inspired by Sting's favorite season, If On a Winter's Night... takes traditional music from the British Isles as its starting point and evolves into a compelling and personal journey with music spanning over five centuries (including 2 of Sting's own songs). An evocative collection of lullabies, carols and songs, Sting's new album celebrates the many facets of winter--before the snow melts and the cycle of the seasons begin once more."

Time would fail me at the moment to comment on all the songs.  "Soul Cake" and "Gabriel's Message" are just two of the powerful and moving renditions on this collection.  Nick will probably be adding a more thorough review of this great collection soon.

Coming Soon:  More Advent favorites,  Christmas Bluegrass selections,  Christmas Bluegrass and Country selections to find in your stocking on Christmas morning, and more.

Readers:  Let us know of some of your favorite Advent music and especially of music that is similar to the titles listed above.