Glory In The Highest: Christmas Songs Of Worship is the first Christmas album by famed worship leader Chris Tomlin. On the record, Tomlin and his band are joined by Matt Redman, Christy Nockels, and Audrey Assad in a live performance recorded in Nashville over two nights. The album features a collection of inspirational holiday favorites, as well as four original compositions. Tomlin and his live band have always had a knack for getting the crowd motivated, and this project is no different.
Glory In The Highest starts off on a surprisingly slow note with "O Come All Ye Faithful," and the listener is instantly treated to the combination of Tomlin's unassuming voice mixed with the heartfelt congregational participation. After a complete listen of the album, this song in particular stands out due to its resonating chorus and obviously engrossed audience. Next comes the upbeat version of "Angels We Have Heard On High," and a piano driven "Emmanuel (Hollowed Manger Ground)." "My Soul Magnifies The Lord" almost has a twangy country feel, while the rendition of "Joy To The World" is especially high-powered, and even contains a completely new refrain. "O, Holy Night" is performed with the appropriate level of somberness, and newcomer Audrey Assad proves her worth with a wonderful duet on "Winter Snow." The album's closer, "Born That We May Have Life" could possibly become a new inspirational Christmas favorite, featuring Tomlin plainly laying out the "reason for the season" in song alongside a group of soul singers.
Undoubtedly, the best aspects of Glory In The Highest occur when the music stops, and the audience sings out loud. In those moments, listeners are transported to a wintery Christmas Eve church service, complete with all the warm feelings associated with such a night. That being said, the album somehow fails to sound, well, Christmas-y. Most things standard to Christmas music-- the bells, the strings, the soft crooning of the singer-- are unfortunately absent from Glory In The Highest. True, the record is more focused on the worship side of the holidays, but it wouldn't hurt to throw in a few choice seasonal elements, would it?
Glory In The Highest is, for the most part, a wonderful listen. It very rarely disappoints its targeted audience; that is to say, it's a worship album first and a Christmas album second. Unfortunately, it really does not deliver in the typical way associated with holiday music. There are no influences from Bing Crosby, there are no blue Christmases, and there are certainly no sleigh bells. The truth remains that Chris Tomlin is Chris Tomlin, and Glory In The Highest is a Chris Tomlin Christmas record. Perhaps, the downfall lies with the fact that it was recorded in June and released in October. In any case, Glory In The Highest is a valiant effort from Tomlin & Co., and a relatively nice companion for the season.- Review date: 10/5/09, written by Garrett DeRossett of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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