Various Artists “Majesty in a Manger” Album Review

Majesty in a Manger

Prime Cuts: Gloria (Our Savior Found Us) (Darlene Zschech), Majesty in a Manger (Greg Sykes), Son of God, Son of Man (Travis Ryan)

"Majesty in a Manger" is one of the most succinct and striking thesis for what Christmas is all about.  The titular itself captures judiciously the transcendence of the Christ Child as well as the kenosis act of the king coming as a diaper-wrapped baby.  But more than the title, the songs on this new Integrity Music release bear testimony to these two indispensable yet intertwined truths in glorious ways across the album's 11 tracks.  Thus, this album gives worship leaders and pastors a thesaurus of Christ-exalting vocabulary to fill our worship this Christmas and beyond.  "Majesty in a Manger" is therefore more than just an album for our personal devotions, this is a rich treasure trove that could be use to enrich our church's corporate worship over the festive season.

"Majesty in a Manger" is an in-house Integrity Music effort.  All 11 songs here are performed by worship leaders who are currently on the imprint's roster.  They include Darlene Zschech, Seth & Nirva, Paul Baloche, All Sons and Daughters, Greg Sykes, Dustin Smith, Michael Neale, Travis Ryan, Christine D'Clario, Lincoln Brewster and co-producer Michael Farren. Save for Lincoln Brewster's "O Little Town of Bethlehem," all the 10 tracks here are newly written and newly recorded.  This means that there are no recycled Christmas carols, all of which here are worship tunes written with Christ's birth in mind.

The buzz track here is given to Hillsong Worship's former matriarch Darlene Zschech.  Written by Krissy Nordhoff, Michael Farren and Travis Ryan, "Gloria (Our Savior Found Us)" hits the bull's eye as to what makes Christianity unique.  While all other world religions are about human beings searching for God, it's only in Christianity, God searches for us.  Detailing God's arduous (and humiliating) search, Darlene Zschech's mellifluous vocals gorgeously capture both God's tenacity and his vulnerability in sending his son to us as a helpless babe.  Of note also is Greg Sykes' title track "Majesty in a Manger" - a song that has an inviting lure drawing us to lean in to witness the manger that transformed the world.

We get front row seats to witness the Christmas story with Michael Neale's careful crafted "Forever Amen (Glory to God)."  While Dustin Smith, with his big burly tenor, offers a rousing worship fest with the traditional-leaning "Joy."  Christine D'Clario who has had recorded her share of Spanish worship songs, give us (non-Spanish speakers) a treat in delivering the English-languaged pensive ballad "Will Ever Be."  Here D'Clario doesn't just describe the events of the first Christmas,she gets us to feel the excitement, the fear, the awe, and the mystery of the whole event. 

If you are looking for songs with some theological depth, yet they don't sound like a systematic theology textbook, Travis Ryan's "Son of God, Son of Man" is the one. Using a series of contrasting duplexes, Ryan captures well both the divinity and humanity of the Christ-child powerfully: "Son of God, Son of Man/Heaven's Lion, perfect Lamb/Suffering servant, Great I AM/Son of God, Son of Man."  However, All Sons and Daughters' "Come to Save Us" and Paul Baloche's "King of All the Earth" are more on the non-descript side. Though not perfect, "Majesty in a Manger" is still an excellent resource for both personal and corporate worship. 

One side observation though: for those familiar with Integrity Music's Hosanna worship series from the 90s, doesn't the design of this album cover bear resemblance to front of the CDs from that series? 



Tags : Various Artists “Majesty in a Manger” Album Review majesty in a manger Darlene Zschech Paul Baloche Christine D'Clario seth and nirva michael farren michael neale lincoln brewster dustin smith greg sykes travis ryan all sons and daughters Integrity Music christmas albums 2016 hillsong worship

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