Prime Cuts: Christmas Morning, Heart Sings Hallelujah, Adore Him
Overall Grade: 4.5/5
Penning brand new Christmas songs is an ardent challenge. With the perennial classics, which thrive on their gorgeous and eternal melodic structures, it is difficult to craft a new song to play alongside classics like "Joy to the World" or "Silent Night." The McClures thus are to be congratulate not only for attempting to write new songs for their debut Christmas EP, but also for succeeding in writing a few classics to be. Other than "O Holy Night," this EP features 4 newly written cuts as well as "High King of Heaven/Jesus We Love You." The last track combines newly written lyrics to the hymn "Be Thou My Vision" with a reprisal of Bethel Music's impassioned anthem "Jesus, We Love You."
The McClures are currently serving as worship leaders and songwriters with Bethel Music and at Bethel Church in Redding, California, Paul and Hannah McClure have been featured on every major release for the label since 2010 with songs like "Jesus, We Love You," "One Thing," "Faithful to the End" and "How Great a King." Driven by the buoyant lead singles "Now I See" and "Only Have One"-the latter of which was showcased on Spotify's "New Music Friday Christian" and Apple Music's "Today's Christian" and "Worship Today" playlists.
The EP starts off with the title cut. "Christmas Morning" re-tells the story of the first Christmas from three vantage points: the angels, the shepherds and from our perspective. Not only do the McClures excel in their storytelling but the way they sing about how this story impacts our lives today is priceless. Worship leaders should place tabs on "Heart Sings Hallelujah" and "Heaven is Here." Both could easily be the soundtrack of worship during the advent season. "Heart Sings Hallelujah," in particular, has such an infectious melody that even the most melodically challenged can sing along.
Paul McClure takes the lead on the hymn-like "Adore Him." Starting off slow, Paul progressively brings us to the ballad's Christ-exalting chorus that is simply an experience of worship. Though nothing really earth-shattering, "O Holy Night" gets a sober and contemplative read. Then they get a little folky with a revamped version of "Be Thou My Vision" now titled "King of Heaven," followed by the familiar "Jesus We Love You."
Though the EP only clocks in at around 35 minutes, there are some excellent entries here. With melodies that are distinctive and words crafted to bring us to God's presence, this is a great resource for worship during these festive times.