Last year we had a blast looking around for fun videos with Christmas music. Today, many people will be heading out for “Black Friday” deals in which the prevailing attitude is “peace on earth, good will toward men but if I don’t get 10% off on this item, someone is gonna get hurt.” (Not exactly full of “Christmas spirit” if you know what we mean.)
In 1988 a Christmas compilation album made by contemporary Christian artists of the day was release. One of our favorite songs on the album is “Angels We Have Heard on High” sung by people such as Margaret Becker, Bebe Winans, Whiteheart, Geoff Moore, and Steven Curtis Chapman. We have always loved the power and exuberance behind this particular version of this classic Christmas hymn.
So to start out this Christmas season, and more importantly to celebrate the birth of Christ, here is “Angels We Have heard on High” from 1988.
Okay, we are going off the reservation a bit here and lumping the music and animation artistry of VeggieTales. Believe it or not, VeggieTales reminds us a great deal of the classic Warner Brothers cartoons as there is an element that appeals to kids and yet at the same time have lines and references that only adults will get. We are sure that parents get tired of the videos as their children will play them over and over and over and over….
Well, deal with it.
The stories are great, the animation is wonderful and the music is well done and innovative.
So without further ado, here are three of our favorite VeggieTales songs:
Okay, we know that people have been using Facebook and other social media to find people or renew friendships for years but to be honest with you, we haven’t.
Yet a few days ago, by sheer chance while looking at something else on Facebook, we saw the name of an old friend from whom we had not seen or heard in years. Afer a small hesitation of “do they want to hear from us?” we sent them a message. One of the the first things we said to each other was “I have always wondered what happened to you….”
Friends are sometimes misplaced, but never forgotten.
Though the journeys of our lives have taken different paths, somehow it is comforting to know that we will see each other here, there, on in the air.
With that, here’s White Heart’s “I’ll Meet You There.”
We have written about the group Petra before, focusing on their change in lead singers, styles and “non-praise and worship” albums.
As part of a project we are doing for a Christian school, we went searching through the vast library of albums and CD’s here are Raised on Hoecakes and came across the “Petra Praise” albums. Sadly, we must admit we had somewhat forgotten these gems.
“Petra Praise” (Volume 1 and 2) put what can be best described as a “Petrification” of contemporary praise and worship songs.
After all these years, these albums prove two things. First, good praise and worship songs are timeless and secondly, there is a reason Christ told Peter he was rock. Even then, Christ knew rock music fits praise and worship like a hand fits a glove.
Fist up, from the first Petra Praise album, “Salvation Belongs to Our God.”
And from Petra Praise 2, “Lord I Lift Your Name On High.”
In 1986, the group Idle Cure came upon the scene in Contemporary Christian Music. The band was formed in Long Beach, California from former members of secular groups.
Pictured left to right: Pete Lomakin (Keyboard), Mark Ambrose (Guitar), Clark Edmond (Drums), Steve Shannon (Lead Vocals)
What made the band great was while other bands such as Stryper had brought heavy metal into the CCM world, Idle Cure’s sound was heavy metal with harmonies. Sometimes compared to Def Leppard, the group released 8 albums over the course of 15 years, proving that God’s love of music does not depend on the style, but the heart and lifestyle of the men and women who play and sing it.
1986: Idle Cure
1988: Tough Love
1990: 2nd Avenue
1991: Inside Out
1998: Idle Cure/2nd Avenue
2000: Tough Love/Inside Out
Born of Yugoslavian parents and raised in Detroit, Kenny Marks can probably be best described as the “Bryan Adams” of Contemporary Christian Music. Or maybe it is that Bryan Adams is best described as the Kenny Marks of pop music. Both had similar pop styles driven by guitars and lyrics that focused on emotions and connecting with people – what Marks calls the “horizontal connection” of being a Christian.
Marks used that connection to write songs that were both popular and caused many to pause and think. Of these songs, his trilogy of songs on “Frankie and Johnny” could be his best works.
The three songs focus on a fictitious teenaged couple who meet at a party (“The Party’s Over” from the 1985 album “Attitude’) who take their passion to the back seat of a car resulting in an unwanted pregnancy and a child. Their actions end their free and frolicking teenage years as the reality of raising a child and marriage set in. That reality is the subject of “Another Friday Night” from the 1987 album “Make It Right.” The trilogy ends with Johnny having left Frankie and their son, and with the young child teaching his mother the true meaning of love and forgiveness in the song “Next Time You See Johnny.” The trilogy handles a sensitive subject with insight, realism and without condemnation. It is truly a great set of songs.
Marks has 5 “principles” of music, all of which are true for Christian artists:
Entertain – Music should be enjoyable…something that is capable of pleasing a wide spectrum of people.
Encourage – Music should lift the spirit and encourage people in their lives.
Enlighten – Music should ‘open doors & windows’ in people’s hearts, minds, and spirits.
Enhance – Music should build up the work of the Church.
Enlist – Music should draw others to become involved in the work of the Gospel worldwide.
After a massive heart attack, Marks has recovered and continues to live a life of singing, preaching and teaching.
We, however, will always remember him as one of the great musicians of Contemporary Christian Music.
So without further delay, please enjoy the following two songs from Kenny Marks: (more…)
Every family who celebrates Christmas has traditions. Mine was no exception. Some of our traditions were fairly “normal.” We had stockings, lights in the windows and on the house. Bubble lights on the Christmas tree remain to this day our favorite way to light a tree. Some traditions were “interesting.” One being my dad would generally wait until the last moment to purchase a Christmas tree. Being a frugal man, he always bought them from a vender he knew who sold “discount Christmas trees.” While it is common to see people advertise Christmas trees at discounted prices, this guy sold discounted trees – trees that made a “Charlie Brown Christmas tree” look like the National Christmas Tree. While people were paying $10 for trees, my dad managed to get a tree for $2 – $3 dollars. (And it was often felt he was overcharged.) Luckily, we put our tree in a corner, so two of the sides could be pressed against the walls and “hidden.” Even then, there were years we couldn’t find a side of the tree that was “pretty” enough to display. Somehow it became a joke to us all. Dad would bring home an ugly tree with few branches and yet every year we decorated and admired how pretty the tree was.
My dad would stand back and proclaim to the world that “just as there is no such thing as an ugly bride, there is no such thing as a ugly decorated Christmas tree.”
Other traditions were a little harder to explain. My parents had to have stewed oysters on Christmas day for breakfast. Don’t ask me why, but I think it had to do with traditions they had observed when they were growing up in rural Virginia.
One of the really odd traditions started because of a snow storm and Dad’s (understandable) forgetfulness. One Christmas Eve, Dad had worked 36 hours straight due to a winter storm in the area. On Christmas Eve, he would always stop by some stores and get somethings to fill the stockings of my sister and myself. But due because he had worked so long, he forget. He got off the bus to come home and found the only store open was “Read’s Drugstore.” Trust me when I say that Read’s did not have much in the way of stocking stuffers for Christmas. Undeterred, Dad picked up some small things and then settled on two bottles of Cepercol Mouthwash and a two bars of Irish Spring soap – one each for my sister and me.
Still basking in the Christmas spirit, Dad wrapped both the mouthwash and the soap and put them in our stockings where on Christmas morning, they were met with incredulity and just a basic feeling of “what the heck?”
A tradition was born and following that Christmas, Dad made sure we got Cepecol and Irish Spring soap each and every year.
(You can imagine the reaction of girlfriends and boyfriends when my sister and I had to explain to them why for Christmas we had gotten mouthwash and soap.)
The last Christmas of his life, while suffering from cancer, he made sure I went out and got Cepecal and Irish Spring soap for Christmas to give to my then married sister. (more…)