From the recording O Come Emmanuel
"O Come Emmanuel" from the "Acoustically Christmas" CD.
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This is a little different from anything I've ever recorded before! But what a joy it was to do it.
I've always been amazed at the huge, majestic, choir sounds that seem like they're bouncing a million times like a ping pong ball, off the walls and 50-foot high arched ceilings of some remarkable cathedral somewhere in Rome or London or even here in the U.S. It just overwhelms me and reminds me of how grand and enormous God’s gift of music can be. And specifically, I love Gregorian chants (I know..."love" Gregorian chants?). Strange maybe, but I do.
There's something holy and reverent about a sea of men's voices, worshipping God, in unison. It's powerful and commanding. And I can almost imagine that's what God might sound like when He speaks...like a thousand voices all at once.
Anyway the search for a song that I could attempt something like that on, led me to O Come Emmanuel...not a stranger to accapela renditions. It’s been recorded hundreds of times, past and present, by some of the greatest and most popular artists and vocalist in the world. By everyone from Enya and Big Daddy Weave, to Casting Crowns and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. But doing the song all by myself was a little intimidating. I mean, I usually do my own background vocals when I record, but this is a different animal altogether.
I had thoughts of Freddy Mercury locked away in the studio, hovering obsessively over 100 or so vocal tracks on Bohemian Rhapsody, singing and singing and singing, over and over again, and wondering if it was possible for me to even dare to attempt to tap into that kind of vibe.
This version of O Come Emmanuel doesn't have 100 vocal tracks, but I did record about a dozen, then doubled those, then saturated them to death with reverb and echo, to emulate that grand cathedral-like effect. Then I tried to delicately place them all in their own little pocket of the stereo spectrum, just to try to give you the sense of being in the middle of it. (For me, it really comes across in headphones or earbuds.)
I'm very pleased with the result, I must admit. Whenever I listen back to the song, I am moved...but not because the singing is this or that, but because the song is such a powerful cry. And the purity and unity of voices-only, just further intensifies the message of it, for me.
In the song, Israel is crying out in misery and desperation for God to save them from the life that they are and have been powerless to control. They are beaten and exhausted. They are weary from waiting. They are pleading and begging God for His mercy.
Then...in the middle of generations of seemingly endless oppression...they rejoice. For "Emmanuel shall come".
What a compelling and inspiring picture for each of us! What a message for any time of the year. So it's my prayer that we might remember to rejoice in the face of despair, as we hear the words of this timeless song.
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Thank you and have a blessed day!Ricky
O come, O come, EmmanuelAnd ransom captive IsraelThat mourns in lonely exile hereUntil the Son of God appearRejoice! Rejoice! EmmanuelShall come to thee, O Israel.O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheerOur spirits by Thine advent hereDisperse the gloomy clouds of nightAnd death's dark shadows put to flight.Rejoice! Rejoice! EmmanuelShall come to thee, O Israel.O come, Thou Key of David, come,And open wide our heavenly home;Make safe the way that leads on high,And close the path to misery.Rejoice! Rejoice! EmmanuelShall come to thee, O Israel.