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February 19, 2019
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Nov 01 2011

In 1979, as a 19 year old Freshman in college, I happened upon "Melanie at Carnegie Hall" in a discount record bin at my college bookstore.  My musical listening habits and tastes have never been the same.  So, when a 14 year old high school Freshman at my school saw Melanie in concert in New Jersey, including sleeping in a rental car with her mom in a WalMart parking lot, then brought me back four of her CDs, it had special meaning to say the least.

Of the four, I have absolutely fallen in love with "Antlers", Melanie's Christmas album.  While I'm usually critical of Christmas albums (See my blog entitled "College Visit") this one is something special.  Her cracked, smokey voice is as lovely as when she was younger, and and the instrumentation is an acoustic return to her folk roots.  The album, subtitled "Christmas for True Believers", is often no less than worshipful, and has more JPMs (Jesus's per Minute) than most Christmas albums produced through the Christian music industry, and virtually no mentions of a certain red clad, obese idol of materialism usually lurking everywhere this time of year.  

Her renditions of traditional carols are true to their original melodies, but her folksy interpretation make them unique nonetheless.  I was blessed to hear her version of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas", which was on one of her very first albums when she was in her early twenties.  Her plea, "Why can't we have Christmas the whole year around" is as urgent and sincere as it was in the early 1970's.  Her version of Tom Paxton'e "Marvelous Toy" is adorable.  "Ships in the Harbor" is a reminder that Christ is the Prince of  Peace both to the heart of the individual, and also to the world if we allow Him to be.

The best cut of all, though, is her folk /choir / Gospel rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus.  In fact, I have already begun reworking my Christmas juggling routine to this song.  For years I've done this routine to Michael W. Smith's "I Saw Three Ships", but fewer and fewer people outside the church know this tune, much less associate it with the birth of Christ.  Even Rose has been telling me that particular routine was needing to be revamped.  Finally, I am also working on a cigar box routine to Melanie's "Oh Come All Ye Faithful", which is my favorite Christmas carol.  It will not be a routine I perform all year round, but will use during the holiday season.

Melanie's 'Antlers' is an exemplary Christmas album for all true believers who want to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas through traditional and contempoary folk carols.

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The presentation was fun and encouraging... The gospel message was clear and encouraging. I purchased your book and just finished it. Your scope is broad and again encouraging. May God continue to bless your ministry. I will encourage others to read your book. -Parishioner of a local church

"Hey, I  wanted to say that was a great message in chapel today! It touched something:) thanks for doing it!" -High School Student  

"We are so grateful that you brought your amazing ministry back to our church this year... The Gospel message you bring applies to all!  It is such a positive, valuable work that you do."  -Coordinator of Christian Ed. UCC Church

"There's no questioning it. This is powerful stuff. It's extremely touching at times, never less than entertaining, and I see a lot of sincere love for Jesus in you guys."  -Dwight Lilies, song writer

The Lord has given you a wonderful window through which to present the Gospel!   - Field Director of Alliance Missions to Paraguay

"What a wonderful ministry to both children and adults.  In past years it has been a struggle to arrange programing that would hold the attention of all ages, but also challenge each heart with God's gift of Salvation.  Thank you for sharing your ministry."  -Sunday School Sup't.

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