Is everyone working on Christmas plans already? What songs are you using this year? Be sure to include the artist as just saying "Joy To The World" won't be much help to anyone. :) I haven't seen a lot of new stuff yet this year besides Bryan & Katie Torwalt's new Christmas CD. Any thoughts on that one or anything else that's come out?
Since the Sunday will be December 24th, I think what we agreed on was that there will be a single morning service with the contemporary band (we normally have one contemporary and one choir), then the children's whatever around 5 pm and the choir service around 7 pm. People don't seem to be interested in doing a late-night Christmas eve service at our church. I don't think we'll be doing anything at all on Christmas day.
I haven't even started thinking about songs for our service (and it's possible the Mrs. will decide we should be away that Sunday). Chris Tomlin's "This Is Our God" has been a standard for us for several years now; we usually do the chorus to "Jesus Messiah" during the advent candle lighting. We tend to do one or two traditional carols each Sunday in advent, so I'm sure there will be a couple, but since it will be a morning service, not necessarily "Silent Night".
Last year, Christmas Eve was on Saturday, so we did the Children's and Choir services on Saturday, and then a single band service on Sunday morning. Once Christmas eve moves into a midweek slot, we'll probably go back to doing three services on 12/24, although it has worked pretty well to have the Children and Choir services on 12/24 and then just have some subset of the band cover that Sunday when everybody else wants to be away with a single service.
A couple from Chris Tomlin's album Adore stood out for me but I didn't get a chance to use them, might try again this year although the traditional carols tend to takeover at Christmas. Quite a few of the contemporary style services I'm involved in have a break during December so there isn't a chance to use these songs.
He Shall Reign Forevermore
Adore (originally a Graham Kendrick I think)
Yeah, interesting that Christmas Eve is on Sunday this year. My church is having more of a regular service that Sunday morning, then a special program early evening the same day.
The Tomlin Christmas stuff is definitely good. Looks like Baloche just released a new live Christmas project a few days ago. Haven't listened to it yet, but it appears to be (at least in part) new live versions of what has been done in the studio on his previous couple of Christmas albums. Good stuff though. His arrangements of tieing in the traditional with modern songs (usually ones he wrote of course!) works very well and helps with the age-old problem of trying to make traditional Christmas carols actually be effective and flow in a worship service.
As I've recently moved and am not looking to serve as a main "worship pastor" or whatever you call it, I've started getting plugged into our new home church. It's great! I'm basically like "hey, here's what I can do. Stick me wherever you want." :) We've started rehearsals for the Christmas program and I'm playing keys on most of it as well as some saxophone. I won't be doing any vocal leading for this. We're doing some cool stuff though including David Crowder Band's "Joy To The World", Moriah Peters' "O Come All Ye Faithful", Kim Walker-Smith's "Angels We Have Heard On High" and even Miley Cyrus' version of "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree". :)
Our church is the first USA plant of Citipointe in Brisbane, Australia. They have a pretty large and well-known worship ministry down there and the rest of what we're doing here for Christmas is song versions developed in the parent Brisbane church. Fun stuff. :)
For anybody else trying to work out Advent setlists at the last minute (like me), here are some notes I took on a bunch of songs I wasn't familiar with. For the record, our band has kind of a country-rock feel to it, nothing too heavy, and our pastor said that the Advent sermons this year will be sorta focused on the "star" stuff. These are notes from hearing the first minute or less of most of the songs, may be of value. When I refer to a song as being "too squishy," that might mean they're just perfect for somebody else.. somebody else might think of these as "soaking worship" lyrics or music or something. The weird letters after the artist's names are the youtube videos I listened to, sorry you can't copy and paste from the image, but this was the quickest way to get this posted... Anything in bold is something I thought was worth pursuing further for our band.
Your mileage may, as they say, vary. Oops, I refer to Randy Newman in one comment and it's supposed to be Randy Stonehill...