I'm a huge Sojourn Music fan because I like their music and the rich content of their songs. More than that, I love their music because I love their focus on the Gospel as a church. They are friends and one of my favorite churches around.
I've given a couple of listens to Sojourn Community Church's new Christmas album, A Child Is Born. My word for this album would be "challenging." It's challenging to your ears as it's anything but a typical Christmas album. It's not even close. Their version of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" is "punk-rock inspired," "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is poppy, as is "Silent Night." Some of the more subdued and lovely moments on the album are from lesser known lyrics retooled. I love the voices that are now very familiar to me: Brooks Ritter, Jamie Barnes, Megan Shaffer & others. They are always a joy to hear again on new projects. The cover design is lovely and simple.
In many ways, this isn't supposed to be an easy album to hear. From Sojourn's website...
There’s a place for joy, a necessary and central place for celebration, but that joy and celebration has it’s most weight when seen in the context of the suffering and longing from which it emerges. So Christmas music at Sojourn has always had a dark edge, a sense of tension and angst, which points us to the darkness of our own hearts that longs for the light of Christ.
For me, A Child Is Born is an odd album. Taking the familiar and making it unfamiliar. Taking songs typically wrapped in seasonal sounds and re-wrapping them in something unseasonal and unusual. It may not be an easy album for you to like, though I've heard from many who are liking it a lot! Sojourn takes some serious risks in genre and style that will shake your Christmas world. But you will have to be the judge if this darker, grittier version of Christmas is something that will be in your rotation year by year. If nothing else, Sojourn for me has earned a listen as they continue to make music in service of the Church that is out of the ordinary.