Many Christmas songs are great to listen to as we wrap presents and prepare Christmas dinner. However, Christmas songs that celebrate our Savior and sustain our spirits past December 26 aren't always readily available.

Celebrate the Promise of Christmas

by Fia Curley
12/1/15 Artists and Authors

The commercialization of Christmas can be overwhelming, but the eternal truth of why we celebrate Christmas never loses its luster. As followers of Christ, this truth flows into our everyday lives throughout the year. Many Christmas songs are great to listen to as we wrap presents and prepare Christmas dinner. However, Christmas songs that celebrate our Savior and sustain our spirits past December 26 aren’t always readily available.

We recently took time to sit down with IHOPKC worship leader and Dove-nominated artist Justin Rizzo to talk about his CD, Christmas, a 19-track project that blends traditional carols, instrumentals, and original compositions. With choirs, orchestral arrangements, and new verses written for well-known favorites, Christmas offers both musical and lyrical variety, while staying focused on the message of our humble and returning King.

Traditional favorites include “Away in a Manger,” “Silent Night,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Also noteworthy is the high-energy medley of “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” and “Joy To the World,” powerfully delivered by Justin alongside fellow Forerunner Music artist and friend, Laura Hackett Park. “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” features a host of beloved worship leaders from the International House of Prayer who each add their signature to this unforgettable rendition.

Q: How is Christmas different than other Christmas albums?

A: This CD is a little bit different in that it’s more of a worship experience focused on Jesus. One of the things I tried to accomplish with the album was to not just focus on Jesus at His first coming, but to end the CD by looking toward the second coming of Jesus, kind of giving the full picture of the story of Christ.

Q: How did you decide which tracks to include?

A: I listened through a lot of carols, the classics, and even some of the newer stuff, and I really found myself asking what would bring Jesus the most glory. While I was listening, I was considering what would make a lasting impact. I just kept coming back to this thought: I want to bring Him glory.

Q: Which song is your favorite?

A: I think it would be a toss-up. The first one would be the first track, “Glory to God.” Nate Hunt, who did the vocal arrangement for it, did a phenomenal job. I love it. There’s no music; it’s just the beauty of the human voice standing out. It was just a beautiful arrangement of voices. Probably second I would have to say “O Come, O Come Emmanuel (He Will Not Rest),” because it was so special to have my fellow worship leaders in the studio with me. In all of my twelve years [at IHOPKC], I’ve never experienced something like that. We’re here, but we’re on separate schedules. It was [recorded] one evening in September. We all got together in the studio, and we’re all around a vocal mic singing this chorus—it’s one of my favorites choruses—”He will not rest until like the sun you’re burning bright.” It was the combination of what we were singing about Israel and also looking at all these guys [gathered] together around a Christmas project. It was really, really special.

Q: What was the greatest challenge and joy you experienced while working on this project?

A: If I was to be honest, the greatest challenge was raising the funds, [but it was] also one of the greatest joys. Probably one of the greatest joys for me was doing the “Think Christmas” video series. It was a lot of fun. There’s a creative side of me that I have to learn to temper a little bit because I’m a worship leader, and drama and video is a separate category, and it’s not for the prayer room. Even the statement of taking a commercialized holiday like Christmas and really bringing worship and Jesus into the center of it, I believe [that] has impacted a lot of people and that has been joyous for me to hear.

Q: What are you most pleased with on this CD?

A: Probably that the fuller picture was given of Jesus’ story and [His return] to rule and reign. It’s that people would have not just reminiscence at Christmastime. I feel that this record gives them the hope that if they’re going though trials, if they’re sick, as the world is in calamity, they can have the hope and be reminded that Jesus is coming back to rule and reign. He’s not the small baby, not just a guy who lived on earth, but He’s God in heaven. He’s in control and He’s coming back. I find great gratification in that because I think that’s the truest hope we can have.

Bless your loved ones with this soundtrack that celebrates the season focused on our Savior. You can find Justin Rizzo’s Christmas CD in our online bookstore. Use the code CHEER2015 between now and Saturday and receive 20% off of Justin’s album as well as the Christmas albums from Jon Thurlow and Julie Meyer!

Fia Curley

position

Fia Curley serves on the NightWatch at IHOPKC, participating in prayer, worship, and intercession from midnight to 6am. She enjoys blending her passion for prayer, worship, and journalism as she labors with the Lord to see His goodness revealed to families, government leaders, and immigrants from non-Christian nations.

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