On Oct 19, the joy and wonder of the Christmas season will be available in the new “The Essential Christmas Collection,” a vibrant 12-song project featuring many of Christian music’s most admired artists, with holiday songs from Third Day, Casting Crowns, Michael W. Smith, Jars of Clay, Rebecca St. James, Brandon Heath, Tenth Avenue North, Building 429 and Matt Maher along with newcomers, Revive, Kerrie Roberts andAnthem Lights. The collection includes stunning versions of Christmas classics as well as two original tunes—Heath’s poignant “The Night Before Christmas” and Smith’s original “All is Well.”

The set opens with Third Day’s powerful rendition of “Angels We Have Heard on High” as lead vocalist Mac Powell breathes new life into this seasonal classic and its familiar, joyous chorus, putting the Third Day creative stamp on this holiday favorite. The musically influential singer-songwriter/worship leader Matt Maher delivers a warm and prayerful version of “Silent Night,” evoking the tender spirit of the season, and “The First Noel” shines as reinvented by Aussie imports Revive.

Over the years, Jars of Clay has become known for putting its creative spin on Christmas music and they do that again with, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” delivering a gentle, understated version of one of the season’s most beloved classics. Rebecca St. James lends her distinctive voice to “O Little Town of Bethlehem” while Building 429 serves up the timeless “What Child Is This?” and Casting Crowns delivers the buoyant, “Joy to the World.”

Newcomer Kerrie Roberts lends her soulful, soaring vocals to “O’ Holy Night” in one of the most memorable tracks on the album and never has the good news of Jesus’ birth sounded more heartfelt and compelling than on Tenth Avenue North’s “Go Tell It on the Mountain.”

Michael W. Smith’s iconic “All is Well,” written for his very first Christmas album and now featured on this collection, is one of his favorite songs ever recorded.  Smith notes, “There was just something special about it. I’ll never forget when I wrote it. It was such an emotional moment. To this day, I still get really moved when I hear it. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve written.”

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