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 The Essential Christmas Collection 
Artist: (Various)
Label: Provident
Release Date: October 19, 2010
Duration: 12 tracks, 44:51
Ah! ‘Tis the Season to praise our Lord, welcome family friends, share feast and fare, and dig up past year’s Christmas tunes to salute the season. What’s this?   The Essential Christmas Collection! ‘Essential’ depends on you the listener. This is by no means a ‘Bah Humbug’ review. While some of the songs have appeared elsewhere in the past, certainly the artistry found here is wonderful. The selection is essentially some of the best Christmas tunes of all time performed by wonderfully talented Christian musicians, and if you don’t have a vast collection of Christmas tunes I suggest you definitely start here!
Essential… greets the season with understated music highlighting the signature voice of Mac Powell on “Angels We Have Heard On High”, an awesome rendition. “Go Tell It On The Mountain” by Tenth Avenue North has a great roving, country-ish melody complete with a wonderfully light horn solo. Brandon Heath once again amazes with “The Night Before Christmas” making great use of strings combined with Brandon’s soaring vocals. Only Building 429 could build a substantial rocker with grace out of “What Child Is This?” – very well done. Michael W. Smith’s “All Is Well” shines here as it has on previous releases. Finally, a light and gentle rendering of “It Came Upon The Midnight Clear” is presented as Jars Of Clay once again comes through with a Christmas jewel.
One for the collection - definitely.  Most tunes are wonderful and will become part of your Christmas for seasons to come.  Others, not so much.  As a collective, this is a very nice addition to anyone’s Christmas collection with each artist providing a wonderful contribution.
SS Mertens

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