So, when was the last time your congregation sang “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice” in 5/4; or “O Come All Ye Faithful” as a jazz waltz; or “Joy to the World” in a funky groove? As Advent and Christmas approach we’re offering new alternatives for churches to explore the spirit of the nativity by taking traditional Christmas carols and putting a contemporary, jazzy spin to them.
For many years I’ve marveled that the majority of folks, regardless of religious background, know the melody and words to the hymns (carols) we sing during the holiday season – well, at least the words to the first verse. In fact, many in our own congregations get lost in the words after the first time through. But that’s another story.
In truth, our culture is permeated with the carols most of us grew up with. And many of our churches have been singing them the same way for the past 50 (100 years?). We’d like to offer some creative alternatives. How about “O Little Town of Bethlehem” with a Latin beat? Or “What Child is This” as a modal arrangement in the style of John Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things?”
The uniqueness of jazz is the ability for musicians to take any piece of music and re-imagine it in new ways – even the ancient 600 hundred-year old melody of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” All of the re-imagined arrangements in our volume of Christmas carols are singable in worship, although a few will take some practice with a good song leader. But, as my wife and I used to say when our children were young – practice makes progress! And that’s what our faith is all about isn’t it? Moving forward, striving to grow in the grace-filled love of Jesus Christ.
We hope you have fun with these arrangements. You may need to fasten your seat-belts when you get to the chorus of “We Three Kings” and band breaks into 7/4. But what a ride!
Blessings in 7/4,