Christmastide: Songs Of Faith And Inspiration

Author: Matt Dean

Picture: Rawpixel

Christmastide: Songs Of Faith And Inspiration

Worship leader Matt Dean shares five pieces of music which inspire him and build faith during the Christmas season.

For a king is born - CJM

This song has to get a mention as it’s a Christmas song that has truly broken through into the canon of seasonal songs.  I’ve sung this at conferences, concerts, and in my local parish.  It’s got an upbeat, modern arrangement that is easy for congregations to pick up.  It avoids some of the cloying sterotypes of Christmas; its message is clear. It's a very well-written song from the masters of the trade Boyce & Stanley.

Tonight (Glory to God) – Graham Kendrick


An oldie but a goodie.  As a child, I borrowed my mum’s cassette of this album and listened to it in bed on my Sony Walkman over and over again.  I think it was one of my first worship music experiences.  A song in the modern style, and so singable, as Graham Kendrick songs always are.  Fantastic chorus declamation: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace from heaven!”

The Oh Hellos Christmas album – mvmt 2

Rearranging of old hymns in modern styles is nothing new, but they aren’t always executed successfully.  Here I think they get it just right.  The folk arrangement doesn’t detract from the original setting but adds a new vitality, energy and spirit of joy.

A Little Suite For Christmas, AD 1979 – George Crumb

I first heard this piece at university.  It’s musically quite challenging for listeners who are not keen on modern classical, but it's well worth listening to.  Crumb captures the eschatological and supernatural event of God becoming man.  Chiming, dissonant bells are offset by atmospheric harmonies and medieval melodies woven into the textures.  The second movement in particular “Berceuse for the Infant Jesu” is so tender and still.  I listen to this late Christmas Eve and it never fails to leave me in awe.

My Lord has come – Will Todd (sung by Voces8)

Beautiful, unaccompanied vocal music from one of the finest English ensembles around today.  A lovely, flowing melody that is harmonised so well; modern yet timeless.  One of the secrets to great choral music is having an arrangement that sounds beautiful but isn’t too challenging to perform.  We performed this in our parish last year.  It was such a wonderful addition to the carol concert.

The words are beautiful:

Shepherds, called by angels,

called by love and angels:

No place for them but a stable.

My Lord has come.


Sages, searching for stars,

searching for love in heaven;

No place for them but a stable.

My Lord has come.


His love will hold me,

his love will cherish me,

love will cradle me.

Lead me, lead me to see him,

sages and shepherds and angels;

No place for me but a stable.

My Lord has come.

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