"Once in eternity in Bethlehem, God, in flesh, was born". Jesus Christ - the Word, the Light, He who was in the beginning with God, through whom all things were made (John 1) - to purchase the redemption of His bride, left the splendor of the throne room of God and put on frail humanity. He was born, lived a sinless, sacrificial life, and died on behalf of all who would repent and believe in Him, enduring the shame of the cross, receiving the punishment that would have fallen everlastingly and justly on us all. That's amazing.
He came in unimaginable humility, as a baby, in Bethlehem, in a manger, in a place only fit for cattle. But His coming was also a thing of magnificence - a miraculous birth with the heralding of angels and the shining of a star. That's worth celebrating and making music about. And on that note, I'm happy to announce the Christmas 2016 release of "Once In Eternity: A Celebration of the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus"
ABOUT THE ALBUM
Early this year, when this album was in its concept stages, I didn't have much of a direction in mind. I started drawing up a list of Christmas songs which included everything from "Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus" (which ended up being the first song on the album) to "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" (which, happily didn't end up on the album at all). But the more I immersed myself in the themes of Christmas - specifically, the coming of Emmanuel - the more I was struck by a sense of wonder in considering the act of Christ in the scope of eternity past and future. The eternal Son of God, who had no beginning but existed always in his spiritual state of perfect communion with the Trinity, changed in His very existence - fully God and fully man - taking on flesh, experiencing the weaknesses of human existence, suffering and dying, receiving the wrath of the Father... With these thoughts, I found a direction for the project, and in the end, I chose the songs with a lot of intentionality, wanting to unfold the story of Christ's arrival as portrayed in the gospels through the succession of the songs on the album.
I have my sister Megan to thank for the album's title song. I had a tune and a sketchy concept for the words in mind, but my only real contribution at the start was a title. I said "Once in Eternity. Make it go." And she did.
I also have Megan to thank for the album cover design. I asked her to help me do some brainstorming, and she drew up a concept... which was nice... but not really the feel I was going for. I mentioned that I was looking for something stark - minimal on objects, conveying something significant in the midst of an expanse. Megan took back the pad of paper and scribbled for a minute and handed back the concept of a lone candle illuminating the text. I loved it as soon as I saw it. My sister is a genius.
Outside of Megan's help on the title song and album art, and Dad's narration from Isaiah 53, I tried to keep the album as much a surprise as possible for my friends and family. It has been kind of fun to have the anticipation all year of letting everyone hear it for the first time on Christmas, but it's been hard. Music is for sharing and blessing and for enjoying with others, not for bottling up and hoarding.
"Once in Eternity" is, at its base, a piano CD. For most of the songs, I used the piano (my first love) as a starting place and built the other instrument parts on top of that (with the exception of the title song, in which my friend Aaron laid the foundation with his guitar). But with the help of everyone who contributed to the music, the finished product is something quite a bit more special.
I owe the Rostollans big-time for enduring so patiently with my experimentation on them with my sound equipment. I'm so thankful for Lauren, Megan and Brittany's agreeing to sing. I had heard them beautifully sing a cappella in close, 3-part harmony before, and was just waiting for a chance to do some recording with them.
And I'm so thankful for Nathan and his magic fiddle. In "O Come All Ye Joyful" alone, we had a lot of hours of work put into it - and that over a span of 300 miles.
And for Mrs. Shere - for her expert oboe-ing and for putting up with my crazy piano timing. And I learned something of the beauty of simplicity with "Coventry Carol". With just the piano and oboe and a straightforward melody line, the "Coventry Carol" is one of my favorites on the album.
And for Aaron. I had fun making a mess of his place, and recording to the sound of the Vols' victory fireworks in the not-so-distant background.
And to everyone else - Nathaniel, Gabe, Dad, Ben, Chad, Aaron; and for the encouragement, advice, and hospitality of friends and family - I'm so thankful. You all gave me a lot of motivation and made it a joy to create "Once In Eternity".