Merry Christmas! I hope this season has been good to you, however and wherever you celebrate. As always, we’ll continue the Christmas Song of the Day through December 31, so stay tuned.
My Christmas Song of the Day for December 25 is a true celebration of the central event of the holiday for Christians – the birth of Christ. Unlike, say, “Silent Night,” which is quiet and reverent, “What a Glorious Night” is joyful and raucous until near the end.
This modern version of the Gospel According to Luke, chapter 2, verses 8 through 18, was released in 2013. I heard it a fair amount on Christian radio the following holiday season; it then vanished for a while, and now it seems to be back again. I still think it would be great on a commercial Christmas radio station.
The band Sidewalk Prophets was formed at Anderson College, a Christian school in Anderson, Ind., in the early 2000s. Dave Frey, the lead singer, joined forces with rhythm guitarist Ben McDonald. The two recorded a demo, which, without their knowledge, was submitted to a campus music contest; the result was a chance to perform. In 2003, the band released its first album independently; a series of chance encounters with stars in Christian music eventually led to a tour and then a contract wirh Word Records in 2009. They won the 2010 Dove Award – the Christian music equivalent to the Grammys – as New Artist of the Year.
By 2013, Sidewalk Prophets had expanded to five members: Frey, McDonald, lead guitarist Shaun Tomczak, bassist Cal Joslin, and drummer Justin Nace. This lineup recorded Merry Christmas to You, which opens with “What a Glorious Night.” Distinctively, the song opens with a sound clip from Linus’ speech from Luke’s Gospel as heard in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Frey later related that he had to go through many hoops to be able to use it, and he wasn’t sure he’d get permission until just before the CDs went to press. The final necessary approval came from the widow of Christopher Shea (1958-2010), the voice of Linus in the original special. A version without the monologue was also prepared, and this was sent to radio in 2014 to use for airplay. The song reached #6 on the Billboard Top Christian Songs chart that holiday season.
As noted, this is no quiet contemplation of the blessed event; this is a party until near the end, when the Christ child finally settles in for a long winter’s nap. So until then, clap along, dance, or otherwise celebrate with “What a Glorious Night.” Merry Christmas!
(A version of this entry was my Facebook-only Christmas Song of the Day for December 16, 2014.)