Written by: Laura Chambers (October 20, 2018)
What’s the central feature of your Christmas celebrations? For some, it may be a fragrant evergreen tree, adorned with sparkling lights and ornaments, topped by either an angel or a star, and laden with piles of presents. For others, it may be a roaring fireplace that casts a glow on those sit close to draw warmth from it. If you happen to live in a warmer climate, it may even be the barbecue grill. No matter where you congregate with your friends and family, eventually you will all make your way to the table for the holiday feast. And it’s there that differences will fade away as love grows, amidst calls to pass the rolls and for another helping of mashed potatoes. Darlene Zschech and her church, Hope UC, invites us to The Table, where Jesus has laid a place setting for every one of us.
The instrumental track “Gather” sets the mood with sounds of people coming to eat, jangling cutlery, and the like. A pleasant arrangement of “O Come All Ye Faithful” becomes more responsive, moving beyond encouragement to action. “Silent Night” turns reflective, wondering at the changes wrought by Christ’s coming. “O Holy Night” adds no new lyrical content to the song, opting for a traditional sound that reveals the heart of the singers. A medley of two angel songs, “Angels We Have Heard On High” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” follows, which is fairly made for pushing back the chairs to do a little square dancing. Those who knew the full significance of what had happened would surely feel like doing so!
I can’t help thinking of the TV special when I hear “Little Drummer Boy”, and Hope UC’s cover of the song may not be as percussive as some, but it has a nice flow to it. “The Mystery”, one of the album’s few original songs, comes to worship and adore in Christ’s presence. It’s something we cannot understand, but it calls to us nonetheless. We can hardly believe He’s with us, but it’s true. Aside from one line (“Redemption in a manger”) it could easily be a worship song suitable for any time of the year. “Away In A Manger”, usually thought of as a children’s song, is sung primarily by children in this version. Their youthful voices add charm and innocence to the worship. Zschech echoes the final verse’s prayer for blessings, suggesting that this is not a sentiment one grows out of.
“Do You Hear What I Hear” begins with a dreamy quality, almost like a lullaby or bedtime story. It then proceeds to swell as the news spreads to more listeners. “Emmanuel (Glory To God)” announces Christ’s coming to dwell with us and the implications of His coming; we have hope now, a way to be rescued. He deserves glory and honor for who He is. An instrumental rendition of “The First Noel” is accented by the voices of “angels” singing portions of the song’s chorus. It serves as something of an interlude prior to the album’s final track, “The Table”. The song accentuates the openness with which Jesus welcomes all people to sup with Him. He died to save us a spot around his dining room table, an invitation which is not dependent on our deserving to be there, but rather on His grace. He calls us to attend in whatever state we currently find ourselves; He’ll take care of all the details.
Whether we spend the holidays surrounded by loved ones or find ourselves observing Christmas all alone, believers all around the world will gather at Christ’s banquet in the spirit, a picture of the feast to come in eternity, where all the food and drink we need is Him. Around The Table, we all find refreshment as we join Him in song and celebration. Darlene Zschech and Hope UC bring a little bit of Christmas joy to us as we wait in the anteroom for the wedding supper of Christ and His bride.
Released: October 26, 2018
Label: EWI, Inc., under exclusive license to Integrity Music
- Gather (Instrumental) (0:47)
- O Come All Ye Faithful (Come & Adore) (8:04)
- Silent Night (In a Moment) [feat. Beth Gleeson] (4:18)
- O Holy Night (feat. Luke Taylor) (5:17)
- Angels We Have Heard on High / Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (feat. Mitch Pedley, Zoe Zschech, Maegan Cameron & Amelia Bateman) (4:48)
- Little Drummer Boy (feat. Pati Telea) (3:21)
- The Mystery (feat. Luke Taylor) (4:19)
- Away in a Manger (He Is Here) [feat. Coco Gleeson & Piper Rouk] (5:08)
- Do You Hear What I Hear (feat. Katie Smith) (4:41)
- Emmanuel (Glory to God) [feat. Laura Robertson] (6:38)
- The First Noel (Instrumental) (2:57)
- The Table (5:18)
12 Tracks, 55:00
Buy on iTunes
More from Darlene Zschech:
- Kiss Of Heaven (2003)
- Change Your World (2005)
- Simply Darlene (2011)
- You Are Love (2011)
- You Are Love (Deluxe Edition) (2011)
- Revealing Jesus (2013)
- In Jesus’ Name: A Legacy of Worship & Faith (2015)