Prime Cuts: Behold the Savior, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear (Holy Holy), He Came for Us (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)
Overall Grade: 4/5
Christmas albums are a tricky affair. If an artist decides to go the traditional route by tackling solely the seasonal carols, they are bound to get criticisms for being a slough. Then if she decides to do originals, comparisons with the standard carols are bound to emerge. Meredith Andrews has decided to take the middle road of half and half, where she mixes the more contemporary compositions with the tried-and-true. But she doesn't just divide the songs neatly between the two camps. Rather, she also interweaves some of the Christmas hymns into her originals. For instance, "Away in a Manger" is tagged to Andrews' "The Gospel Changes Everything." Though not all her innovative tapestries work, they are on the whole above average.
"Receive Our King" is Andrews first attempt into the Christmas foray. Produced by her husband, Jacob Sooter, the album also includes new versions of "Behold The Savior," "He Has Come For Us (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)" and "The Gospel Changes Everything," which were originally released on Andrews' 2013 Behold The Savior EP.
Worship leaders who are looking for a worship anthem for the advent services may do well to listen to "Behold the Savior." Unlike many Christmas songs that hover around the descriptive, the song brings us into the Christmas story in worship when Andrews sings: "He will bear our weight/He will wear our shame/Come lift Him high, behold the Savior/Jesus Christ Law of love and light/Come lift Him high, behold the Savior." The title cut "Receive Our King" is more generic in its lyrical content, but it is another strong contender to be a great worship piece. "Sweet Little Jesus One" is a specimen of creativity as Andrews sets new lyrics to the old Gospel favorite "Swing Low Sweet Chariot."
Then Andrews takes on an introspective turn with a contemplative and prayerful rendition of Andrew Peterson's "Labor of Love." As for the hybrid cuts where Andrews interweaves new tunes into old carols, "He Came for Us (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)" and "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear (Holy Holy)" are done with flying colors. The newly written paeans give us opportunities for us to respond in these carols in worship that are precious.
"The Gospel Changes Everything," one of Andrews' signature ballads, is tagged with "Away in a Manger." One would expect the two songs to interact a tad more than just singing one verse of "Away" at the beginning of "Gospel." The medley would have benefited a lot more if there were more traffic between the two songs. Despite some uneven spots, "Receive Our King" is an extremely fine effort. Thoughtfully written and executed, the album not only brings us into the Christmas season but it also prepare us to worship the Christ-child.