There is good Christmas music and bad Christmas music. Of course it is subject to the listener, and at the end of the day, people must decide for themselves what they want to hear. Some like modern retellings of holiday classics, some like original songs of the season, and others only adhere to the more traditional songs of Christmas. With their latest holiday release, Repeat the Sounding Joy, Citizens brings us something that is a hodgepodge of modern, original, and traditional - and I think everyone will be able to find something to like.
The album opens with a grunge/indie version of "Joy to the World." The melody is left intact but is given an extra kick of rock as crowds interlude with "Glory to God in the highest!" If worship leaders are looking for an updated version to play at their church, this would be a great one to tack on for future years. For those expecting it to continue with the rock feel, the band gladly disappoints with the Motown influenced "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." To hear the versatility of the band is impressive and, once again, if churches sing this, they may see more celebrating in their congregations this holiday season.
"Come and Stand Amazed" is hands down the standout track of the EP. It's an old medieval Dutch carol with a welcomed addition from fellow Mars Hill artist, Dustin Kensrue. It is deeply rich in doctrine as it really celebrates Christ's birth, life, death, resurrection, and glory. It's essentially about the reason we celebrate Jesus Christ's birth - and as I heard someone wonderfully put it, "Without Easter, Christmas wouldn't be anything to celebrate." For someone looking for a twist on a classic, "O Come O Come Emmanuel" is what you're looking for. The melody of the lyrics is the same while the music is completely different and unexpected. The bass line has a smooth funk groove for those looking for some rhythm in their Christmas music.
Concluding the EP is a semi stripped-down rendition of "Silent Night." There's nothing dressing this song up except some beautiful choral voices and some very gentle instruments. In this reviewer's opinion, the respectful handling of this track shows the care and gift of Citizens. They took a song that many know and love and instead of changing it - they let it be. And it might possibly be one of the best versions I have ever heard.
Citizen's Repeat The Sounding Joy is an excellent example of good Christmas music. It really could and should be utilized by churches looking for music for this Christmas and future holiday seasons. If Mars Hill Church continues with yearly Christmas EPs or albums, this could be the start to something wonderful. Merry Christmas, y'all!- Review date: 12/8/13, written by Ryan Barbee of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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