So why a Christmas Cd and why did you name it simply “Christ`mas”? “Though the title may not be unique in one sense, if you look a little closer at the cover you will see the old definition of the word written right under it which gives it deeper meaning. It comes from two words, Christ and Mass. Many years ago believers would come together on December 25 and celebrate Christ’s birth in a worship service. And that is what this cd does too. Worship and celebrate our Savior’s birth. Every song speaks of it and every note proclaims it. I wanted it to be completely sacred. No jingle bells or Santa Claus here. Nothing against those kind of songs, but we were steering away from the commercialism that comes with the season and focusing on God Incarnate. My prayer is that we would all be profoundly moved to worship our King.”
Of his 20 years in ministry he has never released a Christmas project so he is very excited about this one. Even though he sang on “The Christmas Shoes” cd by Newsong which has sold over a half million copies, he tells us with a smile that “that doesn’t count.”
He considers himself blessed beyond measure to have his whole family singing with him on “Christ`mas”. He goes on and on of how talented each one of them are. “Meghan, my daughter, sang on my other cd “Be Still My Soul” some years back and the song got such a great response that I wanted her to sing with me again. So she sang on a song called “With Us” that I wrote with Mark Harris. (4 him) All 3 of her brothers have that song as one of their top 3 on this cd.”
“Michael Jr., my oldest boy, has actually been the quiet one musically. But in the last couple of years he has shown some interest in singing publically. So I asked him if he would be willing to sing on a tune and he agreed. I included him on a quartet with me and his other 2 brothers Joseph and Timmy. They both have sung on 2 Dove award winning kid projects over the years. All three of them are very gifted musically. Quite honestly, it has become one of my favorite songs on the cd. I wrote it with Regie Hamm (Time of my life – David Cook) and it has become very sentimental.”
His wife Heidi has sung on almost every solo project Michael has ever recorded. “We met in a singing group and she has such a beautiful calming voice. She doesn’t like to sing publically anymore, but I always talk her into singing on at least one song with me per cd. The one we did together is called “We Adore You” and has a hymn like feel. She loves hymns, so I used that to my advantage to entice her to sing on it with me.”
Another song that means a lot to Michael is “Have Yourself A Blessed Little Christmas” written by Hugh Martin. Yes, it is the same music from the classic hit “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (2nd most recorded Christmas song ever) but with new lyrics. I used to work in a church in California where Hugh was a member. We became friends and I actually sang the original several times with Hugh as he played piano. But years later he rewrote the song focusing in on the birth of Christ and sent me a signed version of the sheet music endorsing me to do it. I wish he could have been around to hear this version. I think he really would have loved it.”
Another favorite is a song called “All Praise To Thee.” Martin Luther actually penned the masterful lyric. “My wife found it on the internet and I was literally blown away when I read it. I sat down the next day at my keyboard and wrote the music in 5 minutes. I have never written a song with someone who is deceased, but I actually enjoyed the process. Very easy when the lyricist doesn’t have any say in the music.”
There are several instrumentals on this project along with a funky version of the “Go Tell It on the Mountain” lyric but with new music. It’s called “Go Tell It” and Nicole Sponberg from Selah did some adlibs on it. He also dedicated a song to his Dad who passed away several years ago. “Of course he had some Irish in him with a last name like O’Brien. I found an Irish Christmas Lyric on the internet and put music to it. My dad was a drummer and loved upbeat music. This song could have easily been on the soundtrack to “Riverdance”, which he loved so much.” Michael also invited Alex and Annie from the Annie Moses Band to play violins on it. And the infamous Patrick Darcy from Dublin Ireland played the penny whistle.
From the Epic opening of “Gloria” to the stirring ballad of “Sweet Little Jesus Boy”, you will not be able to listen to this cd without being confronted with the wonder of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and his entrance into our world. May our hearts focus in on our Glorious Savior as we celebrate with adoration His birth.