Sherlock Holmes used to say "when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
This Christmas CD was given to me by Santa Claus. Serious.
It was found inside my stocking hung by the chimney with care on Christmas morning. I had stuffed all the stockings the night before (including mine) and knew what was in each before heading to bed.
This was the only CD not found under the tree. It wasn't on any of my lists, no one in my family (wife / kids / in-laws / friends) has stepped up to claim responsibility, and I cannot offer any rational explanation on how it got into my stocking.
Applying Sherlock's theory, Santa delivered this to me when he made his rounds on Christmas Eve. I'm sticking by this story.
Christian rock music is barely a generation old. Starting in the early 1970s, it has evolved many times. From pioneers like Larry Norman and Randy Stonehill and their folk/rock sounds of the 1970s to the driving beats of the 2nd Chapter of Acts, Petra, Stryper, and Amy Grant in the 1980s to the various sounds of Christian punk, ska, metal, and alternative music of the 1990s until today, it has proven to be one of the more successful genres of the recording industry.
It's also one of the most vilified genres of music. Some Christians feel it's still the devil's music. Some accept Christian rock and their artists wholeheartedly until the artists decide to crossover into the secular world (Amy Grant) or experienced marital infidelities (Sandi Patti), or trouble with the law (Gary Chapman). When events like this happen, many "Christians" turn their backs on their one time favorite artists - even though those artists' own beliefs have remained the same despite some adversity.
Christian rock isn't everyone's cup of tea. But it has produced some fascinating Christmas music over the past decade. BEC Recordings (now Tooth & Nail) have produced the "Happy Christmas" compilations (V1 V2 V3 V4) featuring various styles by various Christian bands while Relient K issued their own rockin' Christmas album as a bonus disc and is much sought after in the collecting community.
Third Day hails from Marietta, Georgia and has been together since the early 1990s. They began slowly, releasing independent records for their first few years which eventually attracted larger Christian record labels to their presence. A brand new label called Reunion Records took a chance and signed them as their first band in 1995. Good move..
They've had a pretty solid career since with eight albums released, over 20 Dove Awards, and two Grammy Awards. More importantly, they have a loyal fan base affectionately called "Gomers" who like the Deadheads travel to see Third Day perform across the country.
When I first listened to the album, I was impressed. The band has the sound and soul of "Hootie And The Blowfish" with Southern rock flavor for spice. The music is pure contemporary and quite surprising. Several of the tracks are captured "live" in front of the Gomers ("Away in a Manger", "Silent Night", "The First Noel", and "Do You Hear What I Hear?").
The band stuck to the traditional carols and added two original songs - "Jesus, Light Of The World" and "Merry Christmas". The first song reminds you the reason for the season - standard Christian rock fare. The second song is my pick for the standout song of the album. It's a good song that evokes images of Christmas and Christ, well written and performed.
Around the 4:45 mark of this 6:30 song, it fades to silence and then we are greeted with a rendition of "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" sung live by the band and the Gomers - a nice way to end the CD!
I really liked this album - it was a pleasant surprise to find in my stocking (Thanks Santa!) and a better surprise to listen to (Thanks Third Day!).
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