Christmas is my favorite holiday. But it's more than just the day--it's the whole season. Ever since I was a child, I've always been enchanted by the sense of wonder and mystery surrounding the season. It seems like the mundane, ordinary world is suddenly transformed with sparkling awe. Rows of houses become sources of twinkling, warm, colorful light. The air is filled with music that heralds peace, harmony, and love. It seems as if, during Christmastime, the veil between heaven and earth grows thinner, and you can feel the divine glowing through.
What better thing to do then as a musician but put together a Christmas album. But I didn't want to do any old Christmas album, simply offering my covers of the same old songs. That's why I tried to pick some less covered songs, some Christmas carols that tend to hang quietly in the corners at the holiday party. At the same time, I also wanted songs that evoked that sense of wonder and mystery I described as my own strong emotional reaction to the Christmas season. That's where these five songs came from, and that's why I named this album "Wonder".
The album starts off with a very traditional and familiar hymn, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel", which I couldn't resist because its my favorite Christmas hymn of all time. There is something so intense about the melancholy longing and desire of this song that gets me every time. I tried to capitalize on that sense of longing, but also provide a little undercurrent of joy, which is hinted at in the chorus: "Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel, shall come to thee, O Israel!"
From there the album moves quite naturally and logically into the scene of the Annunciation, recreated in the old European folk carol "Gabriel's Message." I was only introduced to this Christmas several years ago, when I heard it on Sting's wonderful "If On a Winter's Night". I was captivated by its medieval-feeling and unusual melody, and it has quickly become one of my favorites.
The middle track on the album is sort of meditative pause in the story, a self-conscious nod to the mystery of the season in the Appalachian folk tune, "I Wonder As I Wonder", another song with a beautifully haunting melody. Being a meditative wanderer myself, I really connect to the opening of the song, "I wonder as I wander out under the sky/How Jesus the Savior did come forth to die."
The last two songs on the album are originals. "Mystery of the Ages" actually started as a poem that I wrote during Christmastime some years ago. I never intended to make a song out of it, but then some time after a melody idea came about, and it all worked out. This song probably captures my own personal feelings the best, as I wrestle with the wonderful mystery of the Incarnation.
The final song, "Christmas Lullaby" is a song that, at various times has been called "Lullaby for Jesus" or "Hymn for Jesus". Those iterations existed mainly because the song itself has both a lullaby feel, but is also a prayer directed to the infant Jesus, picturing also at the same time all that He would become. It felt like the perfect conclusion to the old, old story which I was retelling in the album.
I hope you enjoy this, my little offering into the wide world of Christmas music, and that you are blessed with a wonderful, mysterious, and harmonious Christmas season.