O Holy Crap

It’s that time of the year when I issue my standard public service announcement about bad Christmas music, though as per usual, individual results may vary.

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  1. Hand of Sweet Release « the bylog on 11 Dec 2008 at 10:02 pm

    […] (link) likes to talk about the dearth of quality Christmas music (see here and here and here), but if you want to hear a fantastic Christmas album go buy the Gaither Vocal Band’s Still […]


  1. Norm Graham wrote:

    Here’s how imaginative the record companies are when it comes to Christmas duets. After repackaging Elvis Christmas songs every way possible for decades, they came up with something new this year. A duet album with Elvis singing with folks like Faith Hill and Anne Murray. Can’t blame them when it is prominently displayed in CD stores and probably even selling well. I guess Silver Bells still brings in the silver.

  2. Stac wrote:

    There’s 2 kinds of people when it comes to Christmas music, those who hate it and those who love it. I LOVE IT! So bring on the “Silent Night” and “Away in a Manger”, those songs are only about the most important night in history. I’ve never understood why a lot of christians never take those songs seriously.

  3. pastormiked wrote:

    Disappointed in the “O Holy Crap” title…

  4. Duck wrote:

    I love it too. The new GVB plays nicely in my itunes Christmas playlist. Here’s my favorite new Christmas song though http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hm4_7SWKWII It’s Faith Hill’s “A Baby Changes Everything”

  5. Observer wrote:

    Our beloved moderator has not been lacking in the “disappointing” department lately.

  6. Matt G. wrote:

    I highly recommend the Statesmen and Blackwood Brothers combined Christmas album if you can get your hands on a copy! Avalon put out a great Christmas CD a few years back.

  7. JimT wrote:

    I hate to say it, but this is one time I completely agree with you. I attended a SG concert in early September where the artists were “practicing” their Christmas music. Of course, what they were really doing was promoting their Christmas CD. By the time December gets here I’m sick of it already! It wasn’t worth listening to in September!

    As evidence good Christmas music is being written I offer the beautiful “Hope has Hands” written by Phil Cross and sung by Connie Hopper. Wonderful! But the rest of their Christmas CD is just what you called it - crap!

    On the bright side, at least they call it Christmas music and not “holiday” music.

  8. Alan wrote:

    While I agree that Christmas as a whole is overhyped and commercialized, I still love this time of year. When I walk in a mall and hear “Silent Night”, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and so many other standards of the season, I have a quiet prayer that some listening might indeed really listen to the lyrics, and find the One the songs and the season are a tribute to.

    I do have a problem with so many secular artists who “need” a Christmas project to complete their catalog. It hits me with special force when I hear singers who are Jewish - whose very religious beliefs deny Jesus as the Messiah - singing about His birth. Other secular artists have well-publicized lifestyles that are at near-total odds with the message that Christ brought. Those, I have a real struggle with.

    Lastly, while it sure is nice to hear new and good Christmas songs, to me, the majority of them are pretty weak. So, for my two cents, I’d rather hear new versions of the tried-and-true classics than some of the “holiday” songs.

  9. CVH wrote:

    “O Holy Crap” is right…while there’s an abundance of Christmas and seasonal music released every year (and over 30 new releases from Christian artists alone this year), I find most of it unimaginative and repetitive.

    GVB’s offering barely kept its head above water; weak material, uninspired production. Other than putting out a new cycle of product every few years, what’s the point? Sad to say, I think they’re starting to circle the drain anyway.

    On the other end of the scale, take an artist like Aretha Franklin. After a storied career of nearly 50 years, she just released her first Christmas record this year and overall (except for “T’was The Night Before Christmas” it delivers what you’d expect from an artist of her caliber.

    Faith Hill’s “A Baby Changes Everything” at least has a different take on the Story. Does it have legs? Only time will tell.

    One of the best releases last year was Josh Grobin’s record. This year, worship leader Travis Cottrell has a good project out. Surprisingly (at least to me), BarlowGirl has one too. Just about everything else, and I haven’t listened to any new SG Christmas albums other than GVB, is ho-hum.

    Some people will listen to anything, even the Singing Moron Family’s “Christmas Favorites from the Outhouse”…speaking of crap. But the bottom line is Christmas albums are designed to tap a fairly reliable market segment and you can pretty much sleep your way through it and still sell a decent number of records. It’s theater - over the top, heavy on the schmaltz and unmemorable. Very few artists have enough creative vision or depth to develop unique expressions of “the Story” in a way that has artistic integrity and commercial viability. So it’s two verses of “O Holy Night” in Bb, predictable key change to C, tag the last line and out with tymp and a big brass hit.

    Holy Crap indeed.

  10. Janet wrote:

    Yes, Mr. Scrooge, there IS a lot of “crap” out there. However, there’s also a lot of beautiful & inspiring Christmas music that I can’t wait to listen to: Anything by Steven Curtis Chapman or Michael W. Smith; the GVB’s “Still The Greatest Story Ever Told” (plus the new one’s growing on me!); the Our Daily Bread Christmas cd’s (check ‘em out if you haven’t already - gorgeous stuff); & David Phelps’ “One Wintry Night” (”One King,” his duet with Sonya Isaacs, gives me chills).
    There’s a song on Randy Travis’ ‘07 Christmas cd that I adore - “Labor of Love.” I know I heard it on the radio a few years ago, sung by a female. Does anyone know who did it?
    Merry Christmas to all & to all - happy listening!

  11. Marty Funderburk wrote:

    When I work with an artist who wants to record a Christmas project, I always recommend that they not do a lot of new Christmas songs. This hurts me because I try to write new Christmas songs all throughout the year. But I know that, for the most part, people buy Christmas albums for the old familiar songs. They do so for nostalgia’s sake. Basically, it’s all “atmosphere” music - these are projects that provide background music for their Christmas gatherings. It’s not meant to be listened to intently, but rather absorbed subconsciously. Again, that flies in the face of all I strive for as a song writer, but what can you do….most of what I create for Christmas I do with the hopes that they will find their way into choir musicals - at least, in that setting, the songs are listened to intently. As for my personal favorites, Michael Buble’s Christmas project is near flawless, as is Diana Krall’s. And The Talley’s “Hallelujah Chorus” is amazing.

  12. Alan wrote:

    Oh holy night, The stars are brightly shining. It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees, oh hear the angel voices. Oh night divine, oh night when Christ was born….

    And you call that “Holy crap”? I sure feel sorry for you.

  13. KDM wrote:

    I think Christmas albums are so easy to do poorly because everyone wants to hear their favorite standards, but if you don’t do something fresh with them, they just sound tired and old. The flip side is that if you DO try to do something fresh, you run the risk of bombing and having everyone tell you that you ruined their favorite Christmas carol. It’s incredibly hard to strike a balance.

    Unfortunately, Christmas music is a huge moneymaker, so some groups crank out Christmas albums to generate revenue without really putting the attention into it that they should. How hard can it be to record ten standard Christmas songs?? Apparently a lot harder than most people think, considering the massive volume of sub-standard Christmas music out there.

    A good example of someone who pays attention to the details is David Phelps. I haven’t been so much of a Phelps phan since he went contemporary. Still, I have both of his Christmas albums, and some of the stuff in the newer one is pretty interesting, both lyrically and musically. I much prefer his earlier release, though. “Joy, Joy” was a fantastic Christmas album, with traditional songs superbly performed, plus a couple of very nice originals (I’ll hand him this, he writes very thought-provoking lyrics). The addition of the Millar Brass Ensemble made it sound quintessentially Christmas, in my opinion. I highly recommend it!

  14. cdguy wrote:

    Alan - #12 — I think you’ve missed the point. It’s not that the songs are crap (especially the tried-and-true sacred carols), but the obsessive regurgitation of these wonderful classics. Do we really need another recording of those gem? probably not, but as long as there are artists who do concerts/service in December, we will continue to hear tired renditions of the same songs over and over and over, ad nauseum.

    And Marty’s right — artists shouldn’t do too many NEW songs on a Christmas. Unless they think they will get airplay, it will be lost.

  15. Inigo Montoya wrote:

    David Crowder has a pretty good “Feliz Navidad” out there too.
    Has anyone heard Mercy’s Mark new Christmas CD?

  16. quartet-man wrote:

    Marty, as a music director, it can be really hard to find good cantatas. Christmas seems to be especially hard. Other than one we did last year (we had done at least partially a few times over the past two decades), I have prepared cantatas myself instead of ones put together.

    As far as listening to new music, there is something to that for the average person. (At least of a certain age.) They typically would rather hear a choir do familiar carols than new songs and maybe even regular artists do them (unless they are a big fan of said artist.) However, I feel many here like the new songs providing they are good ones.

    Here are some more exceptional newer songs that I think are great. There are several more than what I can think of now, but here are some to start with.

    My Son, My Son - The Oak Ridge Boys

    I Have Seen The Light - Many may have heard Gold City do this. I first heard it on a TV service a few years back. Gold City did a version but somehow I had missed the Gold City Christmas CD it was on. I suppose when I heard the title, I thought it was the preceding one I already had that wasn’t so good. I then heard Kyle do it and tracked down a choral arrangement that I think was the same as I had heard on TV. We are doing it this year, Lord willing. Here is a link to one (the same arrangement we are doing, but they adlib some, use a live orchestra instead of the track and don:

    The Gatlins did a great one several years ago. “Sweet Baby Jesus.”

    The GVB has some: Reaching, Hand of Sweet Release, Fear Not.

    The Oaks have several more, but I will only list a few more: Beneath The Christmas Tree, When You Give It Away, Daddy’s Christmas Eve, New Kid In Town (version with Steve. I loved it when I heard it around 20 years ago.) OaksWarrior (Kyle has it posted on You Tube.) There are more over the course of their 5 Christmas albums including standards.


    Old Friends Quartet doing Glory To God In The Highest was fun.

    Although not strictly Christmas I don’t think, Legacy Five’s original Holy Is Thy Name on the Gaither DVD (with Josh Cobb) was excellent too. I wish someone would put it on YouTube.

    I liked the Nelons doing I’m Glad I Know Who Jesus Is (with Joy Gardner, Kelly, Paul Lancaster and Rex with the songwriter, Geron Davis playing it. Much different than their original version and much better. It was found on the original Christmas Homecoming.

  17. Ken wrote:

    Speaking of Legacy Five,how about the project a little christmas?

  18. Jake wrote:

    Maybe I’m not “typical” but I enjoy some new songs and/or arrangements mixed in with the traditional Christmas songs and carols. Now, I’m not trying to start another EHSS debate, but I really enjoy their Christmas album — “Is It Christmas Yet?”, “A Quartet Christmas”,” “Tonight,” & “The Night Heaven Kissed Earth” and some others are mixed in with “The First Noel,” “Christmas Medley,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Altogether it is a very pleasing Christmas album.

    I wish the new GVB album had a little more pizzaz than it does, but I really enjoy “Christmas in the Country” and “Come and See What’s Happenin’” mixed in with some traditional favorites.

    Mark Lowry’s “How Did We Live Before Christmas” is typical ML — humorous, but different and refreshing as he mixes it in with several traditional Christmas songs and his own “Mary Did You Know?”

  19. NonSgfan wrote:

    If I hear one more version of Oh holy night, I’m going to have a not-so holy fit.

    David Phelps….what can I say. That WHOLE one wintry night CD was not smart at all. He is my favorite singer and performer of this day…but “One king” with Sonya WAS the only thing on that album that made sense. You’re right…joy, joy was MUCH better…

    Jason Crabbs version of “strange way to save the world”…in my opinion, is one of the best of the past decade.

  20. pastormiked wrote:

    Re: #16 quartet-man:

    The song “I Have Seen the Light” is on the CD “Gold City Christmas”. Interestingly, the cd has had two versions. The first release had Jay Parrack on tenor. This one has a gray cover. The second re-issue has a yellow cover and has Steve Ladd on tenor. Both cd’s have the same songs, just different tenor singers.

  21. quartet-man wrote:

    #19, I have a version you can hear. I actually thought that was what this thread was referring to when I saw the subject .:-)

  22. Aaron Swain wrote:

    #15: Mercy’s Mark disbanded a while ago, and I don’t know that they ever recorded any Christmas projects. You sure you’re not getting groups mixed up?

  23. quartet-man wrote:

    #20, Mike, yeah I got the yellowish cover one later on, but can’t find the previous one. I hope to someday. I guess I had just seen it listed at the time and presumed it was the one I had just gotten a year or two before or the original one they did with Ivan and Brian and didn’t seek it. At least it seemed that they released the two latter ones (before the reissue) in quick succession.

  24. natesings wrote:

    They probably meant Mercy’s Well. I see they have been advertising a Christmas CD in the Singing News.

  25. Matt G. wrote:

    I agree that EHSSQ’s Christmas CD is excellent. I think Gaither’s Christmas in the Country is another one worth investing in.

  26. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    Looking at the title of this blog entry, I thought for sure there would be a link to Steve Mauldin’s infamous recording of “Oh Holy Night.”

  27. Wade wrote:

    DBM…Many on here do not have a sense of humor enough to take that version. Just see the reaction to the title.

  28. Irishlad wrote:

    When i think of yuletide i go back to the 70’s and three musical events are forever etched in my mind: 1. Perry Como tv special.2.Mario Lanzo O Holy(non-crap)Night.3. The Oaks with RS singing White Christmas about an octave lower than Bing. Wonderful.

  29. CVH wrote:


    I’ve heard of his version…but is it posted anywhere? Thanks.

  30. quartet-man wrote:

    #26 DBM, that is exactly what I was referring to in #21. GMTA. :0)

  31. Aaron Swain wrote:


    Here is that clip of the infamous “bad O Holy Night.” You have to go look at Part 1 for the clip, but I enjoyed hearing the interview with the “singer” as well. You’ll know who it is once they start talking about a recent Christmas project he produced.

  32. BaritoneBob wrote:

    That was “Mary, Did You Know?” by xxxx xxxx, and now we have “Mary, Did You Know?” by the xxxx xxxx Trio and after that we will hear from the xxxx xxxx Quartet as they perform, “Mary, Did You Know?” That song is a wonderful song but is way overdone by too many artists and some radio stations seem to believe that is the only Christmas song available to play.

    As for other Christmas music, Perry Como’s songs are my favorites.

  33. Stac wrote:

    Actually the Gold City Christmas CDs are different, the first one only has 10 songs. The second one had twelve they added
    “O Come All Ye Faithful ” and “Silent Night ”
    The reason they did it was a certain distribution company wanted more songs on it. And this happened about the same time Jay left. I have Jay’s version and it’s one of my favorites!

  34. Mark wrote:

    A little bit of trivia for you. The “Gold City Christmas” CD with Jay Parack was recorded during the week of NQC several years ago in a hotel room. They decided if they had to be there all week they had to make it as worthwhile as possible.

  35. Brett wrote:

    #32, I think MAry Did you know is a stupid concept anyway. The Angel of the Lord told her she was to be the mother to the Savior. Why have the question, She knew He was the Great I Am.

  36. Janet wrote:

    Ok, nonsgfan (#19) - exactly what were you listening to? One Wintry Night “not smart at all?” Besides being incredibly gifted vocally, Phelps is an amazing arranger. Listen to the acappella cuts: Lully, Lullay & Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. And Hark The Herald! rivals
    Anointed’s Joy to the World in its beat. Just saying…
    And Baritone Bob (#32) - growing up, it wasn’t Christmas for me until I heard Perry Como sing Ave Maria. Those were the days, huh? And, it’s not Mary, Did You Know? that I mind being overdone (5 different versions in my library & I love them all) - it’s the 4 different Winter Wonderlands that I’m subjected to every hour. Then, lo & behold, the GVB puts one on their new album. Oy.

  37. Inigo Montoya wrote:

    whoops! Thanks for catching that - Mercy’s Well it is - anyone heard it?

  38. Irishlad wrote:

    I loved the Oak’s xmas LP from about 1980 with Richard doing White Christmas an octave below Bing.Great stuff(ing).

  39. Irishlad wrote:

    Holy crap my fone’s mucking me about big time!

  40. Burt wrote:

    I like Wynona’s “Let’s Make A Baby King”…performed by Michael English. Also, I am in total agreeance that “Mary Did You Know” be blacklisted from anyone ever recording it again. MDYK is my favorite Christmas song but, aside from Mark Lowry singing it or the original recording from Mike E… it gets old.

  41. Extra Ink wrote:

    I think there is some fine Christmas music that has been included in cantatas over the past 10-20 years that is largely ignored by SG groups. Everybody now wants to show that they are “with it” enough to record secular songs like “White Christmas” and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”.

    How about these great songs that few people record:

    “When They Saw The Star”
    “Good News, Glorious News”
    “If I Had Known”
    “Come Let Us Go Unto Bethlehem”
    “Sing Of The Wonder”
    “I Am, You Are”
    “We Have Seen His Star”
    “Jesus, We Crown You With Praise”
    “Stranger In The Straw”

    and so many more. These would translate beautifully onto a well-produced SG record.

  42. matt wrote:

    I always pull out Michael w. Smith Christmas, and the Cathedrals Christmas. No crap there.

  43. NonSgfan wrote:

    Janet, I dont have to prove what is “Unsmart” about that album…check his album sales…thay says it all.
    TRUE: I believe he’s the most gifted vocalist in music today

    TRUE: he’s a great arranger. His acapella stuff is amazing, he arranged almost the whole GVB acapella album and it won..well alot of awards…

    The problem with the album is that it doesn’t solidify a GENRE’ for David. What does he sing EXACTLY?? Christian? Pop? Country Gospel? Southern Gospel? Classical?
    He needs something to solidify an ACTUAL STYLE.

    I thought he had it on the life is a church album, then the next one was totally different.

  44. sockpuppet wrote:

    Can’t remember her name (Melody or Melanie?) that was singing with the Nelons at the time, but “My Son or My Savior” on Daywind’s “We Will Know Joy” is a great original Christmas song and a very impressive vocal performance.
    Who can forget Jeff and Sheri’s “Hay Baby”?
    John Starnes had a very good “Christmas Traditions” cd - very nicely done

  45. Brett wrote:

    Speaking of original Christmas Music Kelly Nelon recorded 2 original Christmas tunes back when she was a soloist, “Sleep Baby Jesus” & “Christmas All YEar”.

  46. Janet wrote:

    Re: Brett #35

    Imagination much?

  47. JL wrote:

    Without question, the best new Christmas song I’ve heard is “He Made A Way in the Manger” Absolutely fantastic words. If you have not heard it, you simply must.

  48. Marty Funderburk wrote:

    Sockpuppet - thanks for reminding people of The Nelon’s “My Son or My Savior.” That was a song I wrote with Wayne Haun and Matt Garinger for a Christmas musical a few years ago. And Quartet-Man, I agree…it’s hard to find good Christmas musicals - publishers have noted the trend of more and more music directors compiling individual anthems and creating their own musicals. The real challenge - when it comes to Christmas - is finding something to say about this specific Biblical event that hasn’t been said. I have to force myself to sit down and write a Christmas song because of that issue. These songs, for the most part, have to remain narrowly focused on the nativity - not the entire scope of Christ’s time on earth. So the parameters can be limiting. Then there’s the question of whether to write a spiritual Christmas song, or a fun “atmosphere” song (like “A Quartet Christmas” that Sue Smith and I wrote for EH&SS). I agree that there are lots of cheesy Christmas songs out there, but it’s hard to find good new ones because few people attempt to write them.

  49. scope wrote:

    My favorite Christmas song is Joel Lindsey’s “Just for This Night” which Hope’s Call recorded a couple of years ago. I still can’t hear it without crying.

  50. Mike Corder wrote:

    I always fall back to Cathedrals Christmas Acappella as being one of the best Christmas recordings of all time. It wouldn’t be Christmas without it!

  51. Janet wrote:

    NonSGfan - Um, the genre for One Wintry Night would be Christmas.
    The start of this thread was about the dearth of good, original Christmas music. Well, this album has some of everything on it. So, if something different or unexpected is what some people are looking for in their Christmas music - ta da! Your position was that there’s only one decent song on the album (One King), while I respectfully & heartily disagree.
    You may or may not be right about David needing to pick a “style” (his versatility is one of his many strengths) - I just don’t think that a Christmas album needs to be pidgeon-holed. It’s its own category already.

  52. quartet-man wrote:

    #49 Marty, it is hard to say which came first. It would be easier in some ways for me to buy cantatas straightout, but they either aren’t ones out there that satisfy me, or I am not finding them. Now, many times in the past I have gotten inspired to do my own because of a song I know of, an arrangement etc. However, I am not adverse to buying complete ones and may have to next year. First of all, especially with Christmas, it is getting harder to make my own. However, even separate anthems themselves are hard to find. At least in my taste or the requirements needed. I do not like the easy2excel ones because I am not fond of two part songs doubled in octaves and neither are some of my members. Range wise, I need to keep the sopranos no higher than an F# or G, preferably the alto no higher than about an A (two of the three can get higher, but one is more of a female tenor and although can sing higher on certain songs, it isn’t guaranteed on every song.) Tenors would ideally stay at around an F# or G (but some can go to an Ab or so.) One bass can get low C’s and lower. Another around low D’s, but the others I think are pretty much around an F. Although some can get higher, a middle C or D would be ideally about as high as they should go unless they are singing with the tenors in unison. Also, I am picky on arrangements. If I hear a great SG song say for instance, and like that arrangement, it is hard to hear it in a choral setting that is way different although I understand why that is.

    One non SG cantata that had a lot more very good songs than not was Gloria (Doug Holck (SIC?) I believe. That is over 20 years old. I sang in it not too long after High School.

    Easter anthems are somewhat easier to find, because it is a less narrow scope to meet and the songs can be used at other times. However, it might be me, but at least a lot of anthems and octavos I listen to aren’t all that great. It is hard to find ones I even like real well, let alone that works for the choir. :) I generally try to stick with moderate songs as far as difficulty. Easy ones are good for speed, harder ones if we have time to work on them, but not a lot of either ones.

  53. Brett wrote:

    to me “Rest on Me” by Kelly Nelon is better then “Mary Did You Know” JMHO

  54. Wade wrote:

    #46 - Janet… if you have not figured it out there’s a few ppl on here without imagination or a sense of humor.

    Also Janet… know that NoNsgFan - will always be hating on David no matter what.

    I will be hating on Goodmans & busting anybody that tries to be important or know it all.

    Dr DH will be hating on Inspos, Greater Vision Tenors, anything Gaithers and Russ & Tori!!! LoL;-)))

  55. cdguy wrote:

    Ingo #37 — yes, I’ve heard Mercy’s Well’s DECEMBER project, and it’s quite nice. Primarily piano and voice. It was produced by Donna Beavuais (Hope’s Call), so they are extrememely nice arrangements.

    Marty Funderburk’s song “Love Comes Gently” (on a new choral project from Prestonwood’s choir) is about the prettiest thing you’ll hear for a while.

  56. MityCats wrote:

    Some of my favorite newer Christmas songs (which probably aren’t meant to be totally Christmas songs) are:

    “At The Right Time” - Booth Brothers
    “Glorious Light” - Pfeifers
    “His Story” - McKameys
    “I’ve Been to Heaven” - Hinsons

    There’s one, though, that isn’t heard very much, if at all. It’s called “Salvation’s Story” by the McKameys. To me, you can’t have the Christmas story without the Easter story and vice versa. That song takes it from beginning to end.

  57. DMP wrote:

    I loved David with GVB, but his solo stuff to me is very, very average. His voice and range is irrelevant. The best voice in the world singing the worst song is still crap to me. His lyrics are cheesy and his writing is questionable. As far as his Christmas album, I think his new one is fairly lame. I did like the older one with the brass. David was tremendous with GVB because we received him in moderation. His big flamboyant style was fun and a polar opposite to Guy’s. But alone, he bothers me for the same reason heavy metal does. Go nuts NonSgFan, because that is what you do best, but David suffers from an identity crisis, in hair, music and overall style, and that leaves him nothing more than an amazing voice with nowhere to go.

  58. Marty Funderburk wrote:

    Thanks cdguy! That’s actually called “Love Came Gently” and Kim Hopper was the first to record it - on her first solo project “Imagine.” Ricky Skaggs & Family then recorded it and featured it on their CMT Christmas special that’s aired several times over the last 2 Christmas seasons. Mike Speck also included it in a Word Christmas cantata, “The Heart of Christmas,” and Word later released it as an octavo.

  59. Stac wrote:

    One of the best Christmas CDs out there is The Martins.”Light of the World”. And all the songs are actually about the Real Meaning of Christmas. Michael English has a nice Christmas Cd also, simply called ” A Michael English Christmas”. You have to be a English fan to like it though, which I am!

  60. quartet-man wrote:

    The Martins, I liked Heaven’s Child on that.

  61. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    Probably 75% of the musicals I’ve bought in the last few years have been Ready To Sing titles arranged by Russell Mauldin.

    He writes too many unison and trio sections for my taste. I generally turn the trio sections into SATB by handwriting in a bass part for my six bass singers.

    I’ve considered re-arranging the whole thing, but it’s a lot of work for just one or two performances.

  62. Angie M wrote:

    At the risk of being controversial, I really like Ray Boltz’s Still Her Little Child.

  63. quartet-man wrote:

    #61 DBM, The Ready To Sing is similar I think to Mosie Lister’s Easy To Excel or whatever they are called. I do a lot of arranging or transcribing too (I use Finale), but as you say that is a lot of work and I don’t know how much more I will do.

  64. wackythinker wrote:

    Angie, I say his recent announcement about his lifestyle does not negate the truths of his songs. God promised He would honor His word. I don’t see a lot of difference between Boltz’ songs and the ministries of preachers who have been found in sinful lifestyles. A person saved under one of those preachers, no one would say you weren’t really saved.

  65. gina wrote:

    The McKameys actually have a fairly new Christmas CD that contains lots of excellent songs. Most is newer material, with a couple of standards thrown into the mix. Think what you want about the McKameys, but when it comes to good scriptural lyrics, it just doesn’t get much better.

  66. DeeAnn wrote:

    Marty, our choir is doing Mike’s ‘The Heart of Christmas’ again this year, really a great canata with great songs and I LOVE - Love Comes Gently!!!!!

  67. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    Easy2Excel = Lillenas
    Ready To Sing = Brentwood/Russell Mauldin
    Time Saver = Word Music

  68. quartet-man wrote:

    DBM, I have had experience singing the Easy2Excel. I have I think seen the Ready To Sing, but not sure I ever sang any of it. I haven’t even seen any from Word. I haven’t bought any of it, but maybe previewed some from either Lillenas or Brentwood/Benson.

  69. nonSGfan wrote:


    I LOVE DAVID PHELPS. I have said over and over again that I own every record, and he is my favorite singer.(other than kenny hinson) I JUST WISH HE’D PICK ONE STYLE AND STICK WITH IT.

    Go back and listen to his “Life is a church” album, and compare it to his Christmas, or his new one “the voice”. What does the man sing?

    The thing is…IT COULD be a good thing!! But what I am saying is that it’s not good for me. I HATE the majority of his music, but love the other portions whole-heartidly.

    Maybe he doesn’t need to pick a style or genre’ or stick with it. Maybe he DOES need to keep jumping around like a rabbit…maybe thats good…but not for ME.
    PS. I Love David Phelps..he’s my favorite singer other than Kenny Hinson. did I mention that?

    Thanks for mentioning “I’ve been to heaven” by the way…one of the greatest songs of all time.

  70. oktwoknow wrote:

    #69 I believe from what you’ve said, that you love David Phleps, and Kenny Hinson. I got that message loud and KLEAR! lol lol lol lol lol lol

  71. CVH wrote:

    Phelps is a conundrum. He has a great instrument but he lacks discipline. His insistence that he is a musical Renaissance man is a product of his ego and frustrated marketing, not public recognition of his genius across multiple platforms. Great singer, good arranger of vocals. But he clearly does not do every style equally well, nor is he convincing when he strays too far from his admittedly wider-than-average core strengths.

    His fan base likes almost everything he does but he doesn’t enjoy such broad support across the industry. The biggest criticism of his last two albums is their musical schizophrenia. And “The Voice”? Please. I hope he focuses more clearly and channels his talent more effectively; if not, he runs the risk of becoming a parody of himself and just another musical cliche in the business.

  72. quartet-man wrote:

    #71 Phelps is a great talent, but his stuff outside the Gaither stuff (that I’ve heard) unlike Snickers doesn’t satisfy me.

  73. KDM wrote:

    Heh, heh. Musical schizophrenia. I like your descriptive language. Just about the most accurate assessment I’ve heard. And like NSGF, I’m not a DP hater. I just think he needs to settle down and decide what he really wants to do.

  74. Ron F wrote:

    Hey guys another great Christmas song is “Merry Christmas with Love” Brian Free Sings it . Back when he was with Gold City of Course.

  75. cynical one wrote:

    And regarding Phelps, does the album title “The Voice” strike anyone else as being a little bit egotistical? Now, granted, it may not have been HIS choice for a title, but I’d think that, if someone at the label thought he really was “the voice”, David would have had enough clout to tell them “no”.

  76. Wade wrote:

    75 - O cynical1… lol… well what does it say that IVAN PARKER has often been called…The Voice?? Does he have an ego?? lol … if I could sing like DP… I wonder what I would title a CD?? lol

  77. Dean Adkins wrote:

    The late Johnny Cook recorded an LP entitled “The Voice”.

  78. Kyle wrote:

    Possible titles for the next David Phelps CD….

    “Doncha Wish Your Tenor Could Sing Like Me….Doncha….Doncha”
    “I Still Haven’t Done Polka Yet”
    “The Arranger”
    “This Album is Like A Box Of Chocolates (You Never Know What You’re Gonna Get)”
    “Freak Of Nature”

  79. Grave Digger wrote:

    Didn’t Steve Warren also record a project called “The Voice”?

  80. quartet-man wrote:

    Kyle, you forgot, “How do you like me now” and “there is life after Gaither”

  81. dmp wrote:

    The title, “The Voice,” reminds me of what I always tell my students when writing papers. Don’t tell me that something is “exciting,” describe it in such a way so that when I am done reading, I will say how exciting it is without being prompted. I’m not sure what the thought behind that title was, but I’m not sure they thought it through. And the song choices? In some ways it reminds me of a Michael Crawford album I bought years ago. Very generic songs, all supposedly recorded with a “new twist,” which in actuality, means ruined. Remember new Coke?!
    David suffers from the same problem I realized I had several years ago, though I am in no way comparing our voices. People frequently ask me why I don’t go into singing professionally more than I already do, or seek a recording contract. The problem for me is, though my voice is good, I don’t think any genre out there really suits my voice. I sound stupid doing pop, SG is doable, but I lack the twang, and classical is out. In the end, I do a nice job of putting people to sleep at the nursing home and singing at a church here and there. There may be no more to it than that. David is good, but he never could have held is own next to Pavarotti, and he sounds like a bad American Idol tryout singing pop. His fit into SG was awkward, but very enjoyable. Maybe that just leaves him a musical nomad.

  82. natesings wrote:

    “there is life after Gaither”
    Yes, just ask Jonathan Pierce.

  83. Jeff wrote:

    SG old School Christmas Songs:

    Sleigh Ride - THe Talleys

    I’m Glad I Know Who Jesus is - The Nelons featuring Kelly Nelon and not Jerry


    I’d STill Like to go to Grandma’s House 4 Christmas - Talleys


  84. nonSGfan wrote:

    Kyle, I am still laughing at your post.

  85. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    One more easy to sing brand for choral:
    You Can = Genevox/Lifeway/S. Baptist

  86. wesK wrote:

    My choir is doing the new cantata Hope Has Hands this year and the arrangements are very solid and workable even to the sopranos and tenors. The music of Phil Cross on this project is awesome.

  87. wesK wrote:

    I believe Connie Hopper has recorded the Hope Has Hands song in this cantata.

  88. Mike McIlwain wrote:

    Our choir is presenting “Love Gift” from Prism Muisc. It is from the San Antonio Community Bible Church series. It’s mostly three part with a true bass part in a few places. It has some moving, worshipful songs and a few carols. This is my second time using it. It has more of a P & W and CCM feel, but I’ve had many senior adults love, because of the clear and worshipful message.

  89. quartet-man wrote:

    #83, that is the version I like. I couldn’t find it when looking for it so either it was added after, or the search never came up. :)

  90. nonSGfan wrote:


    there, go see the re-incarnate Kenny Hinson…and i will continue to post this until I get a freakin’ reaction!!!

  91. Marty Funderburk wrote:

    Where has Weston Hinson been hiding? Wow, nonSGfan….great video…he’s definitely God his dad’s genes. I’m blown away.

  92. Marty Funderburk wrote:

    Typo….”GOT his dad’s genes”

  93. Grave Digger wrote:

    OK . . . here’s my reaction. I never cared for Kenny Hinson but it sounds just like him.

  94. quartet-man wrote:

    #90 NSGF, one would think you were longing for a reaction. ;)
    I can tell a difference. His timbre is different and his speaking voice seems quite different, but there definitely are similarities in moments that are almost uncanny. I never listened to the Hinsons much, so I will leave further comments to others, but I sure didn’t want to leave you hanging any longer and hope that if nothing else this will tide you over until someone else comments. :-)

  95. quartet-man wrote:

    #82, Nate, He’s still living isn’t he? ;-)
    He did do a couple of solo CD’s (as I recall) and the song One Love was really good.

  96. quartet-man wrote:

    #88 MM, I have used some things from Prism, but yeah, they don’t often do “real” bass parts. On some of the stuff at least (the more P&W stuff they seem to favor) they seem to have the basses double the melody. One thing I did like from them was the “Let The Redeemed Say So” collection. The “We Will Not Fail” is a great arrangement, “Go Tell Everyone” is a nice arrangement that I think I like better than Gaither’s. Whenever We Agree Together” is good. There is another good one in there I think, but I can’t recall which song it was now. :-)

  97. Ima Fan wrote:

    There are a lot of comments posted on the YouTube video itself. I wasn’t familiar with the Hinsons originally, but this guy sure is good.

  98. nonSGfan wrote:

    The hinsons were one of the greatest groups of all time, and I believe Kenny Hinson, in his day…was probably one of the greatest performers in SG history..ever. Love his son’s voice..I think Gaither should put him out there.

  99. jbb wrote:

    David Phelps, Ivan Parker, Kenny Hinson and the list goes on. They are all great singers, but, just when you think you have heard the best and there is none better, out comes another one out of the woodwork and then he is the best. I didn’t think I would like anyone after DP, but, I like the blend of the new GVB.

  100. Jim2 wrote:

    I had the privilege of seeing Michael English with Casting Crowns, Avalon, Natalie Grant etc. Friday Night in Greensboro, NC - and my first thought when he started belting out “Go tell it on the mountain” was -”Mike’s still got it” it was a great performance - I’m sure it didn’t hurt to have Avalon singing BGVs and Denver and the Mile High Orchestra doing the live music.
    It was fun to be sitting in that big arena with a bunch of worshippers, just enjoying all that talent and witnessing the spirit of peace that was the theme of the evening - good times

  101. natesings wrote:

    #95- I was referring to musical career

  102. quartet-man wrote:

    #101 Natesings, Yeah Nate, I knew that. I was just messing with ya a little. :-)

  103. sickofit wrote:

    This website has become as useless as tits on a boar hog.

    A couple of years ago I enjoyed this website. Not so much now!

    Shut it down! Turn out the lights, the party’s over!

    Avery–your reign as the online National Enquirer of Southern Gospel Music has come to an end. This place is pointless.

  104. NonSGfan wrote:

    Mike has always had the stage presence, the ability to move a crowd..he is an awesome performer, and a great talent also. The over-all strength of his voice has faded, but this is normal for a singer that sings in such a dynamic fashion. Same thing is going to happen to Jason. It’s just the way it is. :(

  105. rr wrote:

    It’s not SG, but it’s Christmas. Take a look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Fe11OlMiz8&NR=1

  106. Payton wrote:


    I couldn’t agree with you more. I actually tried to post a comment saying the exact same thing you said there but for some reason Doug decided he didn’t want to let mine through. I had just come to the conclusion that he loved to talk about others, but would censor anyone who tried to say anything about this now horribly useless, hardly ever updated blog. I will surprised if he even lets this one through…. OK so who’s gonna start a new blog?

  107. wackythinker wrote:

    sickofit #103 - Just curious, if this site is so pointless, why have you stuck around so long, and why bother posting?

  108. David Johnson wrote:

    Just read your article in Thought and Action (I first typed an acronym for the journal but then thought better of it). Found your observations right on target. Nice work and best wishes.

  109. oktwoknow wrote:

    Why does it show on my home page, that there are 109 comments, but only 108? I’ve noticed it’s 1 more for several days. Is there a “ghost” poster somewhere?? creepy music plays

  110. Extra Ink wrote:

    #108, if you are the David Johnson who plays nearly everything and does a lot of studio work, I’d just like to say that I have enjoyed your playing for a number of years.

  111. quartet-man wrote:

    #107 I agree. It is one thing to want to shut down or out things that are morally objectionable (i.e. porn) and so on, but to want to shut something down just because that person apparently finds nothing of value here anymore seems silly. If they don’t like it, don’t come. There are still several other readers here who seem to find something here to read or talk about.

  112. MM wrote:

    Was anyone else listening to enlighten the other day when they played Kirk Talley’s “Fruitcake”? Now, i must admit, i chuckled at the inherent irony of the title, but then asked myself why would anyone play thins song over the air? Why waste valuable airtime to assault my intelligence and musical taste. I thought enlighten was supposed to be a “gospel” station. They also played “Mele Kahlikihaka” (sp?) by the Kingdom Heirs. I mean seriously, just because it is on the Christmas CD does not mean that you HAVE to play it.

  113. Extra Ink wrote:

    Hey, as we used to say in the ’80s, “Mele Kahlikimaka” is ALL THAT. I love that song.

  114. Harry Peters wrote:


    Don’t let the negative personalities ruin your day. This is a great sight. Harry Peters understood you when you said, “I would also like to say I started blogging to uncover the reasons why I have remained interested in, and engaged with, a form of music from a world and a way of life that, in most other respects, I left behind half a lifetime ago.” I think that rings true for a lot of us, I KNOW it rings true for Harry and Fonda Peters. If we could pin-point the “it” factor that Southern Gospel Music has, a great mystery would be solved for me. I know people who have left the church and who are not walking with God…yet they still hold on to SG music and listen to it. Harry Peters remembers Tom Fettke (The Majesty and Glory of Your Name composer) telling him one time “nobody in churches today likes Southern Gospel Music.” And then with a pregnant pause, he continues…”except the people.” Anyway, now that all of the holy (not) Christmas crap is over, we can look toward Harry Peters favorite holiday…EASTER! Without it, the world would have long forgotten just another little Jewish baby boy named, Jesus.

  115. Harry Peters wrote:

    Harry Peters certainly doesn’t know why his last post was axed.

  116. mike guzman wrote:

    lol how so I find the song!!!

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