Every year, our church hosts a few Christmas concerts and I’m in charge of one. It’s called Songs of Christmas and it’s fantastic. It’s also a lot of work. Hours upon hours are spent finding a theme, picking songs, creating arrangements, rehearsing, set designing, etc. If it were not for the amazing volunteers that help me, I’d spend all year planning this event! (Seriously, I couldn’t do it without their help. I love and appreciate each of them dearly.)
Nevertheless, last year I decided that it’d be fun to write and perform one original song for Songs of Christmas. I mean, why not? I have tons of time…NOT! Before I knew it, our first rehearsal had passed and the calendar was titled, “November.” Naturally, I began to pre-panic (a full panic wasn’t in the cards yet). I thought, “What have I gotten myself into?”
I considered pushing an the idea of original song to another year, but something in my heart told me that the time was now. I believe that God wanted to share something with me, and us, through this song so I leaned in it. After many attempts, Tory (one of the volunteers as well as a dear friend and fellow songwriter) and I finally sat down to write what has now become Jesus Emmanuel. The song seemed to pour out of us. We approached it from different angles yet the lyrics felt real and personal. A similar experience happened when we played it with the band for the first time and while we recorded it.
At first listen, you may not think of Jesus Emmanuel as a “Christmas song” and in one sense, it’s not supposed to be. I have mixed feelings about holiday songs. I appreciate them, no doubt, but generally find songs that can be sung during any time of the year more powerful. That’s kind of where my mind was at while writing Jesus Emmanuel. My goal was to write a song for our church with our church musicians that speaks to the lives of our church’s people. I didn’t want us to only sing it during Christmas time. The pains, hurts and joys that we experience together are not confined to a certain time or day of the year. I wanted the lyrics to be relatable throughout all of these moments.
One of the words that makes Christmas special to me is Emmanuel (or Immanuel), which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:18-25). Knowing that God is with me changes everything. It reminds me that I am not and am never alone in what I go through.
The promise of Emmanuel was clearly evident in Biblical times. Jesus left heaven to be born of Mary so that He could walk and talk among our forefathers (John 6:25-40). He was with Mary and Elizabeth when Lazarus died. (John 11:1-44). He was with the disciples during the storm on the sea (Matthew 14:22-36).
The promise of Emmanuel is still evident in our world today. Jesus died for our sins making a way for us to be connected with God (1 Peter 1:3-6). He offers us rest amidst life’s chaos (Matthew 11:28-30) and the strength to carry on during difficulties (Isaiah 40:29-31). Trusting His sovereignty allows us to trade our anxieties for peace (Philippians 4:6-7).
Jesus Emmanuel is a song of petition and thankfulness to our God, who is always with us. May we have eyes to see His presence and work in the world. My prayer is that the song is a comfort to all who hear it. I believe that the lyrics will not just be of encouragement to the people at our church, but the church at large. I hope that it brings you comfort today. You can listen to and download the song here.
I, and the team, would really love to hear any feedback that you have on the song so please share it with us. With kind words please. 😉