Songs of the Season

“This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ – and I am the worst of them.” (1 Timothy 1:15 – CSB – Read the chapter)

When I was in high school, I was first introduced to a cappella music. This came by way of an invitation to try out for a new a cappella group the new choir director was starting. Thus began a brief career with The Patriots. It was a ton of fun and something totally new in the district which made us all little celebrities around town (which itself was hilarious as we were all band and choir and orchestra nerds of the highest order). That was toward the beginning of a cultural moment when a cappella music generally was catching on. It reached its highest point a few years later with a brief TV series followed by a trilogy of films celebrating the art. This morning, let me introduce you to a Christmas song that came out of all of this cultural movement.

When the Sing Off premiered in 2009 on NBC, I was most excited. As much as I had enjoyed my time with The Patriots, it was a chance for me to relive those fun days vicariously through these mostly college-aged groups. The first two seasons were a ton of fun, but the third season is when the show really hit its stride (and then was cancelled after the fourth season). That third season is most famous for introducing the world to the still super popular group, Pentatonix. They won the season, and it was never close, but that whole season was stacked with so much talent I actually did something I had never done before. I downloaded all the music from the show each week after the episode premiered. I still occasionally listen to it all these years later. It was all that good.

One of the highlights of that season for me, though, was a special Christmas album the groups all released. Each group contributed their spin on a Christmas song. The songs range from the popular to the obscure. Some of those arrangements are still my favorite arrangements of the songs. One, from the group Kinfolk 9, was an arrangement of In the Bleak Midwinter, that is the best I’ve ever heard of it. As far as I know that album is the only place to find it. I searched YouTube for it to no avail.

One other song, though, is still my favorite from the album. The song is called Infant Holy, Infant Lowly, and it is performed by the group Vocal Point. Vocal Point is the men’s a cappella chorus from BYU. But if that title doesn’t sound particularly familiar to you, there’s a reason for it: they wrote it. Vocal Point actually wrote the song for the Sing Off Christmas album.

Lyrically the song is fairly simple. It tells the basic outline of the Christmas story. What makes the song for me is the music – which is outstanding – but also the chorus. After a great swell of emotion, the melody resolves into a sweet tenor voice intoning a simple, but powerful truth: Christ, the babe, was born for you.

Maybe this won’t do much for you, but that simple line absolutely captures my heart. Christ, the babe, was born for you. That’s the Gospel in the most basic terms imaginable. Jesus the Christ, the second member of the triune Godhead entered this world as a baby to grow into manhood, at which point He would suffer and die and be raised to life on the third day. And the reason for all of this was you and me. Christ, the babe, was born for you.

This particular arrangement is not from the whole of Vocal Point, but by a former member of the group singing all of the various parts by himself, which actually serves to make the recording all the more impressive as there is a pretty wide vocal range that he obviously can cover. Still, this one singer manages nonetheless to convey all the power of this simple truth. Christ, the babe, was born for you. May you rest easy in this Gospel as you continue forward in this season.

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