Prime Cuts: Hope Has Hands, He Is, Hallelujah
With no wasted moments and no one-dimensional characters, every note on this record re-tells the story of Christmas in ways that make us appreciate and feel the importance of the season. Both elements, appreciating and feeling, are quintessential to a Christmas album. On one hand, a good Christmas record is more than just a cozy-inducing affair. It needs to allow us to appreciate Jesus and truth of Christmas afresh. It needs to be bold in its proclamation and punchy in its presentation. On the other hand, a good Christmas album is more than just a cerebral exercise, it's one that ought to invoke our emotions to feel the wonder of the season. It needs to bring out a glowing joy and comfort in our souls as we listen to these truths again over familiar or newly written tunes. Triumphant does both with honors.
Consisting of David Sutton (tenor), Clayton Inman (lead), Scott Inman (baritone), and Eric Bennett (bass), Triumphant are known for being the only established full-time Southern Gospel quartet to never change membership among the vocalists. Their songs, "I Bring You Forgiveness," "Don't Let the Sandals Fool Ya," "Hey, Jonah," and many others have allowed them to be recipients of countless Singing News Fan Awards. The group was bestowed the honor of the "Favorite Traditional Male Quartet" award by the magazine's readers from 2009-2014.
Released by StowTown Records, "He is Christmas" is produced by the imprint's honcho Wayne Haun. In keeping with Haun's impeccable standards, a rich orchestrated sound accompanies the opening track "Repeat the Sounding Joy." Written by Haun and Dave Clark, "Repeat the Sounding Joy" is the perfect prelude to a Christmas record with its delightful use of brassy horns and the quartet's layered harmonies. "He is" is a song that deserves wide circulation as it is a "must-hear." Tracing through the role of Christ in every book of the Bible starting from Genesis to Revelation, this song gorgeously highlights how Christ is the connecting theme through all 66 books of the Bible! This song will literally leave you breathless.
Also belonging to the "must-hear" canon is Phil Cross' tender piano-led ballad "Hope Has Hands." Told from the perspective of the wise men, the song brings out a personal dimension to what Christ has done for us that is so meaningful that you can't help but put the song on repeat. Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," not often associated with Christmas, gets a festive treatment here. Making the lyrics point more perspicuously to the Christmas message, the song actually works. Then there are a few mandatory numbers like "Mary Did You Know," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and Eddy Raven's "Thank God for Kids," which are passable without being exceptional.
To help us feel the festivity of the season, Haun has seamlessly string together six secular Christmas ditties together on "Medley of Fun." And to counter the Christmas side of the season, he puts together snippets of 6 Christmas hymns on "Celebration Medley." Both tracks allow us to foretaste a sample of songs from both caps without lingering too long on just one or two classics.
If you want a Christmas album that doesn't shy away from the Gospel-driven content of the Christmas message and yet still captures the sentiments of the season, "He is Christmas" is right in your alley.