Here is our page of notes on the songs and hymns from our latest compilation for those of you who enjoy this kind of geekery.
Translation of an 11th century Latin sequence (a sequence is chant or hymn sung or recited during the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist, before the proclamation of the Gospel) The first German stanza appeared in 1370. Luther added six stanzas to it in 1523 and then published it for the Christmas service that year, making this the first Christmas
hymn of the Reformation. This hymn was used by Bach in his Choral Cantata for
Canticle of the Turning
Inspired by Mary’s Magnificat catholic musician Rory Cooney penned these words in
1990 and paired them with a traditional Irish tune Star of County Down. Here the
tune is arranged by Richard Kentopp of The Gentle Wolves for Servant Church in Austin, TX
Christmas Must Be Tonight by “The Band”
Christmas Must Be Tonight is an out-take from Northern Lights, Southern Cross, subsequently included on The Bands album ‘Islands.’ The song, written by Robertson after the birth of his son, Sebastian, was originally intended to have been a Christmas single in December 1975. It eventually went on to become a christmas season hit single for the group “The Band.” Here Jeff Crawford and Brett Harris, from Durham, NC church The Gathering, present us with their take.
Two versions of this text are on the album written by the Rev. W. D. Springett in the
1890’s. One version by Zac Hicks (Coral Ridge Presbyterian) in a Techo-Praise style, and
one from City Hymns musician Karl Digerness (City Church, San Fran) in a simple
folk.jazz style. A wonderful look into how music can elucidate a text in a myriad of ways.
Come Thou Almighty King
The anonymous text dates from before 1757, when it was published in a leaflet and
bound into the 1757 edition of George Whitefield’s Collection of Hymns for Social
Worship. The text appears to be patterned after the British national anthem, “God Save
the King.” Filled with names for members of the Godhead, this song exhibits a common
trinitarian structure, addressing God the Father (st. 1), God the Son (st. 2), and God the
Holy Spirit (st. 3), concluding with a doxology to the Trinity (st. 4). Here featured with
original music by Luke Morton, the current worship pastor at Green Lake Presbyterian
Church in Seattle, WA.
Emmanuel (God with Us)
Music and Lyrics by Marty Reardon at Trinity Anglican Mission in Atlanta, GA and
released on their collection of Advent/Xmas songs in 2011.
Hark a Burst of Heav’nly Music
Words by a Mrs. M. N. Meigs largely in use with Sunday School collections in the late
1800’s. Music by Jered McKenna, music minister at Mitchell Road Presbyterian
Church, Greenville, SC.
Hark What Music Fills the Sky
Text by English poet Elizabeth Wiglesworth best known for her publications of hymns
addressed to children. Music by Craig Harris, worship pastor at Sun Valley Church in
I Wonder As I Wander
Originally recorded and transcribed by folklorist John Jacob Niles outside of Asheville,
NC. This arrangement written and recorded by Bruce Benedict and the Hope College
In the Bleak Midwinter
Originally pushed as simply “A Christmas Carol.” Later titled “In the bleak midwinter”
after the opening line and published as a hymn in the English Hymnal in 1906. The only
tune to which the complete hymn is sung is CRANHAM by well-known English
composer, Gustav Holst, who composed it for this text. Here arranged and recorded by
Seattle, WA area collective Coastland Commons (Kyle Turver and co).
In The Night A Heavenly Song Came Down
Harcourt Whyte is a notable Nigerian composer. He was struck with leprosy as a child
and after his parents died he lived in the Uzuakoli Leprosy Hospital in the East of
Nigeria. Here he became fascinated with the hymns of the medical missionaries and went
on to compose many songs both in English and in the native language Igbo. This
arrangement was written and recorded by Jonathan Green (JGHymns), a musician from
Jesus Came, Jesus Comes
From the hymn text “Jesus Came, the Heavens Adoring” written by English pastor
Godfrey Thring in 1864. Included in the lectionary as a hymn for the 1st Sunday of
Advent (Year B). Original tune by Michael Van Patter – worship director at Hope
Chapel in Greensboro, NC.
Lift Up Your Heads (Psalm 24)
Originally written in German by George Weissel in 1642 as a hymn for the first Sunday
in Advent (late trans into English by Catherine Winkworth). This hymn draws its
inspiration from Psalm 24 and contemplates how we can prepare our hearts for Christ’s
Second Coming. Original tune from San Francisco musician Jason Morrell (City Church–Mission)
Love Came Down at Christmas
Another classic Christmas text by 19th-century poet Christina Rossetti. Here arranged by
Patrick Schlabs (St. Peter’s, Charleston, SC) from the traditional Irish tune GARTAN.
New chorus lyrics and melody from Alex Mejias (High Street Hymns)
Mary’s Song (Our King of Peace)
Original text and tune by Wendell Kimbrough, 2014.
My Soul Magnifies the Lord
An original text and tune by Andrew Rottner, who leads worship at Liberti Church in
On This Day Earth Shall Ring
A popular translation of the medieval carol Personent Hodie. This hymn is often
associated with the feast of the Holy Innocents (Dec 28). This arrangement was written
and recorded by Covenant Presbyterian Church (Paul van der Bijl)
A messianic psalm exploding with resonances in the Lukan canticles, this is a fantastic
psalm to explore during the advent and Christmas seasons. Here Luke Brodine presents
the entire psalm between readings and a short chorus of vs. 18-19. Tune is arranged from
the traditional WILD MOUNTAIN THYME.
Puer Natus Est
Puer Natus Est is the Introit for the third Mass of Christmas Day. It is a latin rendering of
Isaiah 9:6 “A child is born to us, and a Son is given to us: “Whose government is upon
His shoulder.” This arrangement and recording is by Daniel Snoke a worship leader and
musician from Pittsburg, PA.
Sing Out My Soul
Original text and tune inspired by the Magnificat from Brian Moss, early Indelible Grace contributor and current associate pastor at Maple Valley Presbyterian Church near Seattle, WA.
We Sing to Thee Immanuel
Words written by German pastor Paul Gerhardt in 1650, and translated by Catherine
Winkworth in 1855. Music written by Gregory Wilbur in 2004 and recorded in 2014.
You Gave Your Word
Original text and tune by Nashville musician and worship leader Jeff Bourque.