Sunday, December 4, 2011

Michael W. Smith: It's A Wonderful Christmas Review

I still have Michael W. Smith’s 1989 Christmas project simply titled Christmas. And yes, I still bring it out during the Christmas season! Michael released his second Christmas album, Christmastime nine years later in 1998, which featured his version of the Chris Rice hymn “Welcome to Our World.” Following the nine year pattern, Michael released his most recent Christmas album It’s A Wonderful Christmas in 2007. But what makes Michael W. Smith’s Christmas music special is two-fold. Number one, it’s classic. With orchestras, choirs, outstanding arrangements, and even some beloved carols mixed in with the newer tracks, he knows how to deliver a cheery Christmas album that brings back memories and excites the listener. But secondly, Michael keeps the focus on what the meaning of Christmas is supposed to be – that Jesus Christ came into the world as a baby to save sinners. It’s A Wonderful Christmas is another outstanding Christmas album!

You’ve probably heard “Christmas Angels” on Christian radio around Christmas time, as bells, strings, and soft piano open up the stunning chorus of the Christmas angels spreading the good tidings of great joy! A children’s choir perfectly compliment the glamorous Christmas single that builds at each turn.

The title track, sounding like a jolly old Christmas film is 5-minutes long, and you can’t help but reminisce about past Christmases with the amazing arrangement from The London Symphony Orchestra. You might even be tempted to watch some Christmas classics and sip on hot cocoa. Those are the emotions evicted through this moving orchestral arrangement.

“The Promise” speaks of the prophecies surrounding the coming of Christ. Michael W. Smith sings in this track, and piano, choirs, and strong orchestras make this track VERY powerful. “Song for the King” is a very soft instrumental, and violins help keep the sereneness that is easily felt through an honest listen.

Featuring Mandisa and a Christmas choir, “Christmas Day” is a charming track, speaking of the happy feeling that Christmas Day brings each year. Mandisa’s vocals were simply amazing in this track! Bagpipes help give “A Highland Carol” a very Celtic feel that is quite Christmassy and peaceful.

A set of three choirs give “Sing Noel, Sing Hallelujah” a wonderful, full feeling, although Michael himself does not sing in this track. “What Child is This?” follows, mostly piano, but does have a pennywhistle that makes this arrangement very simple and beautiful.

“Son of God” is amazingly beautiful with choirs singing “Gloria, alleluiah” while “Audrey’s Gift” is a simple piano chorus with soft highs and lows. And lastly, soft orchestras come into play with “All Year Long,” a Christmas wish that peace, joy, and happiness would be found all year round, and not just at Christmas.

It’s classicalness, outstanding orchestra arrangements, and Christ-centeredness makes It’s A Wonderful Christmas a phenomenal Christmas project, one that you can have playing in the background during the Christmas season, or play loudly when needing a little extra Christmas cheer. Michael W. Smith knows how to deliver the Christmas spirit very well!

Rating: 4/5
Release date: October 16, 2007

Track listing:
1. Christmas Angels
2. It’s A Wonderful Christmas
3. The Promise
4. Song for the King
5. Christmas Day (feat. Mandisa)
6. A Highland Carol
7. Sing Noel, Sing Hallelujah
8. What Child is This?
9. Son of God
10. Audrey’s Gift
11. All Year Long

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