I have three great contemporary songs for Christmas to share with you. I love them all and two of them are wonderful not only to listen to you but also to sing in a Christmas worship service.
Maybe you have heard of them. They are “In The First Light”; “Breath of Heaven” and “Immanuel (From the Squalor Of A Borrowed Stable)”.
1. “IN THE FIRST LIGHT” by Bob Kauflin
“In the First Light” was written by Bob Kauflin and originally recorded by Glad on the A cappella Project CD. This song is awesome. I encourage worship leaders to use this during the Christmas Season. Not just about the birth of Jesus but communicates the gospel clearly. It covers the time from the Coming of Christ through his Triumphant Return.
In addition to Glad, Point of Grace, Adam Lambert and Todd Agnew have recorded it. The YouTube link is to the Todd Agnew/Christy Nockels version. They add a nice brief “Do You Hear What I Hear?” interlude at the end before the last line’s climax. Here’s the first verse as a sample. For complete lyrics click this link In The First Light Lyrics
“In the first light of a new day
No one knew he had arrived
Things continued as they had been
While a newborn softly cried
But the heavens wrapped in wonder
Knew the meaning of his birth
In the weakness of a baby
They knew God had come to Earth”
Todd Agnew’s In The First Light
2. “BREATH OF HEAVEN” by Amy Grant
“Breath of Heaven” was written by Amy Grant & Chris Eaton. It’s often subtitled as “Mary’s Song”. It’s a beautifully written slow song and Amy Grant’s voice on the original is brilliant. Something about Amy and Christmas songs!
The song is sung from Mary’s point of view and portrays her as a person who is amazed at what has happened to her and battles anxious thoughts for being chosen for such a holy and profound purpose. Yet she calls out to God using the phrase Breath of Heaven, aka the Holy Spirit.
The theme of holiness is strong in the song. Being holy comes with the idea of being separated and set apart for a God-given purpose.
Outside of the words the arrangement, melody and Amy voice make this a special song. The version I have linked is to a more recent live rendition. Though Amy has lost a bit of her top range this live version does it justice. This song is definitely worth buying or at least adding to your Christmas playlist on Spotify!
I have travelled – many moonless nights,
Cold and weary – with a babe inside.
And I wonder what I’ve done.
Holy Father, You have come
and chosen me now
To carry Your Son.
I am waiting – in a silent prayer,
I am frightened – by the load I bear.
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this – path a-lone?
Be with me now,
Be with me now.
Breath of Heaven, hold me together, be forever near me,
Breath of Heaven.
Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness, pour over me Your holiness
For You are holy.
Breath of Heaven.
Here are the full Lyrics of Breath of Heaven
Here is the live version Audio of Breath of Heaven
3. “IMMANUEL (FROM THE SQUALOR OF A BORROWED STABLE)” by Stuart Townend
Much like Bob Kauflin’s “In The First Light” Stuart Townend’s “From the Squalor” tells the story of Jesus from birth to triumphant return. Both have a modern hymn-like quality in common. Stuart is the author of the very popular “In Christ Alone” and “How Deep The Father’s Love For Us” both fabulous worship songs. Townend continues to bring us worship songs that are fresh, creative and scriptural that press us into the presence of God. Most are slow but his writing is profound and the melodies beautiful.
At the church I was at a few years ago we did the song every Christmas adding a delightful original penny whistle instrumental section before each verse. This song does not have the notoriety of the first two but it is no less highly recommended.
YouTube has a wonderful recording of Immanuel (From the Squalor)
Worship Together has a recording plus From the Squalor Lyrics Here’s verse 1:
From the squalor of a borrowed stable
By the Spirit and a virgin’s faith
To the anguish and the shame of scandal
Came the Savior of the human race
But the skies were filled
With the praise of heav’n
Shepherds listen as the angels tell
Of the gift of God come down to man
At the dawning of Immanuel
1999 Thankyou Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)
Stuart Townend’s From The Squalor of a Borrowed Stable