John Tesh

Christmas Worship

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An unabashedly big, sweeping tribute to the power of the holiday spirit, John Tesh's Christmas Worship plays like a new age/CCM hybrid, mixing synth-driven instrumentals like "Joy to the World" and original Christmas songs like "This Is Your Gift" and "Hungry," which are more ambitious -- and explicitly Christian -- than anything that appeared on Tesh's previous holiday albums. The involvement of CCM artists such as Rich Mullins, Matt Huesmann, and Kathryn Scott emphasizes the religious aspect of the album, particularly on Mullins' "Awesome God" and "We Fall Down." But even with this newfound focus, tracks such as "It Wouldn't Be Christmas (Without You)" still reflect the festive feel of the season and recall Romantic Christmas. For the most part, Christmas Worship works as an invitation to share the holiday with Tesh in a more intimate and spiritual way, although "God in the Stairwell," a recounting of the September 11, 2001, attacks from God's point of view, is awkwardly executed despite its good intentions. Still, renditions of "Silent Night," "Away in a Manger," and other carols round out the album pleasantly, bringing a festive warmth to Tesh's occasionally too-synthetic sounding style.

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