Music Monday: Meredith Andrews - Receive Our King
Release Date: October 27, 2017
It seems every well-known Christian artist at some point readies a Christmas-themed project to add to their discography. As music fans, we often clamor for and anticipate these releases as the months of fall wear on. As a listener and a worship leader, I love finding albums which bring about the atmosphere of worship in Christmas. Meredith Andrew’s first full-length Christmas project, Receive Our King, is one such album that has me worshipping throughout this Advent season.
Mixing many traditional melodies with newer compositions, Receive Our King starts off with the familiar in "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus." Expectant, building, and upbeat, Andrews has a quality in her voice that projects a hopefulness: this Messiah came to deliver His people and He will return once again. There’s much here for congregational worship as the added bridge brings a personal aspect to the old standard hymn:
You draw the hearts of shepherds
You draw the hearts of kings
Even as a baby
You were changing ev'rything
You called me to Your kingdom
Before Your lips could speak
And even as a baby
You were reaching out for me
Putting Christ full-center as the exalted and coming King, tracks 2 and 3 "Glory In The Highest" (written by Matt Papa and Meredith's producer husband Jacob Sooter) and "Behold The Savior" (written by Andrews and Mia Fieldes) are original pieces. A theme of anticipation is portrayed early on as evidenced by lyrics “Here is the promise we have waited for, He will not leave us in the dark.” Vocally, Andrews' moving soprano takes command in a way that engages the heart of the listener.
A more chill, relaxed feel starts out "Hark The Herald Angels Sing." Led in by electric guitar vamps in between phrases, the track adds layers as it moves along but dynamically, keeps things fairly even. Out of all of the traditional carols on Receive Our King, Hark keeps things as close to the original feel as any. Still, it sits totally in sync with the rest of the album.
An honest retelling of the manger scene abounds on "Labor Of Love;" a song which correctly assumes “It was not a silent night.” Originally written by the great Andrew Peterson, Labor Of Love is one of the most tender moments on the project. "He Has Come For Us (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)" pairs the traditional verses of the hymn along with an added chorus proclaiming “He's the hope for all mankind, He has come for us.” Personally, I’m loving the rawness and vulnerability of Meredith’s voice on “Sweet Little Jesus Boy”…I’m not sure what vocal effect is being used but it adds a very modern, yet 80s-vibe feel. “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear (Holy Holy)” stays true to the song’s traditional melody but adds the bridge tag of “Holy holy”; another powerful worship moment.
Mike Weaver adds backing vocals to title track “Receive Our King,” a song that would work great in a worship set and also has that “radio quality” feel about it. Lyrically, the chorus has a familiar phrasing to titles surrounding the Messiah: “Jesus, Wonderful Counselor. Prince of Peace. Son of God. Here with us, we receive our King.”
As closing track "Away In A Manger/The Gospel Changes Everything" starts, I’m reminded of another great aspect of Christmas: family. Maverick Andrews (Meredith’s son) plays a key role in the song as he leads Away In A Manger. It’s such a moving piece, but the most powerful moment of the song comes when Maverick’s melody gets faded back in under the countermelody Meredith is singing (about 3:30 in). You really have to listen to it to appreciate it; it has that "goosebumps effect" and I’m guessing it won’t be the last time we hear Maverick on a project.
I don’t know if you’re like me, but seems every year at Christmas I listen to these songs and albums and then put them away for another year; eager to move past the season and onto new things. I can easily forget the power and impact of the Gospel story through Christmas and I can easily reserve it for just a few weeks out of the year in December. What I love about projects like Receive Our King is the fact that the Gospel does indeed change everything. That’s not a once-a-year thing. It’s an everyday thing. I hope you’ll check out this album and above all, be drawn in once again to the story of our Savior’s birth.
Until the next #musicmonday, God bless!