It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas From the Heart

Cover concept by frogcooke

Cover concept by frogcooke

I may be struck by lightning for saying this, but Christmas carols are my favourite part of the holiday.

Maybe it’s because I became a Christmas-carol junkie at such a young age – learning all 6,432 verses of “Good King Wenceslas” by the time I was five. And after singing these songs in countless choirs, concerts, masses, and every Christmas Eve (whether my family likes it or not), these hymns now live and breathe deep within my memory … within me.

So the thought of two of my musical loves coming together for David Archuleta’s Christmas from the Heart CD filled me with trepidation. How could my expectations ever be met? How could I not be disappointed?

david_archuleta_thumbBut as he always does, David takes my expectations, sees them, raises the stakes, then shows his cards and beats all odds. Every time. When will I ever learn? I was blown away by so much on this album (and noted only one misstep *cough*Charice*cough*), but here are a few of my favourite things:

O Holy Night
It is a tribute to this arrangement and the orchestration that my tears began to well even before David started to sing. The visceral thrill of hearing — no feeling — real strings, real woodwinds, real percussion — made my knees weak.

We’ve heard David sing OHN before but never like this. At first I thought he slowed things down from his Tree Lighting Ceremony version but, comparing the two, I realize he slowed only his delivery to add emphasis to each line, each word — all the while maintaining the same tempo … incredible. It has the effect of bringing a profound depth of meaning to each phrase. With its tender tone and phrasing, David’s voice carries the essence of this most holy night to my very marrow.

And you’d have to be seriously dehydrated not to tear up at the delicate reverence of “His gospel is peace,” “Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth” or the sublime high note of “Noëëëëël!

Credit: Snarky Archies

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree ... (Credit: Snarky Archies)

What Child is This?
Oh my. Where do I begin? For me, the purity and youthful innocence of David’s voice paired with the honesty and truth he brings to every note here are both heartbreaking and breathtaking.

He makes the scene feel so real, I can practically smell the straw in the manger. It feels as though David is shepherding us into the stable with him where we stand gazing at the infant in awe and wonder. He sings simply and softly as a whisper — careful not to wake the blessed babe.

By the time he asks “Why lies he in such mean estate where ox and mule are feeding?” my heart grows heavy with his at the poignancy of the lowly surroundings. Then the full impact of what child this is finally hits at the crescendo, and I weep with joy at “This, This is Christ the King.”

O Come All Ye Faithful
Love this arrangement. A perfect marriage of contemporary David flourishes and traditional majesty. It should always be sung this way.

Riu Riu Chiu
This song is already haunting my dreams. It dates back to the Renaissance and has a peculiar (in a good way) cadence … the trance-like quality of a Gregorian chant fused with a soulful Latin rhythm. Absolutely addictive. (Pat-a-Pan also has constant-replay potential and I can’t wait for the inevitable dance/club mixes to surface.)

Ave Maria
I’m too overwhelmed by David’s Ave Maria to say anything coherent. Let me just say this: If you’ve lost your faith and don’t want it back again, best skip this one.

Silent Night
This is a perfect jewel of a track. Again, it begins softly, tenderly, as if David is one of the shepherds watching the baby Jesus sleep. Then, his voice swells as if he’s stepped outside the stable and is free to sing out the miraculous news to the world — to the moon and the stars and the sky.

This isn’t the record of a singer concerned with fame or fortune or making his voice sound pretty – it’s the record of a master storyteller, an artist who wants to connect with every listener – regardless of their beliefs or lack thereof – so that every last one can feel the joy – the pure love – that lies at the heart of Christmas.

Thank you for this most precious gift, David.

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57 Responses to It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas From the Heart

  1. betsyjaney says:

    “His gospel is peace” & “Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother”

    Tofan – I can’t add anything to what you’ve written.
    Thank you for your beautiful words.
    Because right now, I have none.

  2. Kizzi says:

    TOfan – AMEN

  3. awestruck says:

    I’m barely coherent. Thanks to iTunes.

    For anyone who doesn’t have iTunes already on their computor here is the link http://www.apple.com/ca/itunes/overview/ just click on the blue ‘Download iTunes’ button – upper right corner.

  4. refnaf says:

    David was born to sing these songs…
    Thank you TOfan….
    what amazes me is how he can take just a word or phrase and put his heart into it so that it is felt, not just heard,,, man, this is such a gift!

  5. Kizzi says:

    yes, ref, it is a direct communication between his heart to ours – telegraphed through his voice.

    How’d we get to be so lucky?!!!!

  6. awestruck says:

    Luck Kizzi? I’d like to believe I was destined to hear David when I first did (Shop Around). In hindsight, I needed him so at that time in my life. Now, with CFTH, he has transported me to a new level of awareness. Man, do I ever get emotional when I hear him sing these ‘reverent’ Christmas songs.

  7. Kizzi says:

    From the 1st Paragraph in David’s liner notes…the most revealing personal information he has given about his faith…just perfection…about as politically correct and non-intrusive as I’ve ever seen!

    “I first would like to thank God, who comes first in all of this. It’s because of Him that I’ve gotten the chance to do something I love so much. I dedicate this Christmas album especially to Him, and our Savior, Jesus Christ. May it be another way I can give back to them, and to all those who listen to the songs as well so that they can feel the spirit and message within them.

    This album represents my love for the Christmas time, and what it really is all about. The main purpose of this album was to share my testimony with all of you of my love for this special time of year – one that we spend with family and loved ones, and what it means to each of us. I hope you can all feel that in the music.

    Through this album, I share with you something that is very special to me, and I hope it helps you understand more where I come from with my music and as a person.

    I hope the music in this album will go beyond anyone’s personal religious beliefs as I don’t want anyone to feel I am only addressing this to people who believe in a certain way. I want the experiences that you may feel through the music to communicate to your in your personal language, and in light of your spiritual or religious beliefs.

    Music has a universal message that can speak to people of different ages, beliefs, and languages and can reach beyond the supposed obvious meaning of the lyrics and can allow everyone to feel something special. It is my hope that through this music you can feel something meaningful to you.

    Mission Accomplished Mr. Archuleta – at least for this listener. And, may I say that you are one incredible young man.

  8. awestruck says:

    Kizzi that message is… no words right now.

    Oh my, I was on my way out the door to actually get the CD and I may have to wait until the tears stop flowing enough so as I can see.

  9. TOfan says:

    Thanks for the liner notes message, Kizzi. He is so eloquent, so beautifully sincere.

    “about as politically correct and non-intrusive as I’ve ever seen” … So true. But what’s most lovely is that he didn’t include it to be PC but because he truly wants to include everyone, not leave anyone out. gah … he slays me….

  10. Angelica says:

    Kizzi, the thoughts David expressed in those liner notes…I’m awestruck with awestruck. No words.

    TOfan, as usual, Bravo for your excellent skills in writing, putting in words what David’s music does.

    “He makes the scene feel so real, I can practically smell the straw in the manger. It feels as though David is shepherding us into the stable with him where we stand gazing at the infant in awe and wonder. He sings simply and softly as a whisper — careful not to wake the blessed babe.”

    “Then, his voice swells as if he’s stepped outside the stable and is free to sing out the miraculous news to the world — to the moon and the stars and the sky.”

    “This isn’t the record of a singer concerned with fame or fortune or making his voice sound pretty – it’s the record of a master storyteller, an artist who wants to connect with every listener – regardless of their beliefs or lack thereof – so that every last one can feel the joy – the pure love – that lies at the very heart of Christmas.”

    I’d recopy and post the entire article here but I don’t want to get into copyright issues. 🙂 Thanks for this beautiful critique.

    But as he always does, David takes my expectations, sees them, raises the stakes, then shows his cards and beats all odds. Every time. When will I ever learn?

  11. Angelica says:

    Last paragragh should be in quotes ala TOfan too. I love how you describe what he ALWAYS does.

  12. Kizzi says:

    Angelica – TOfan has a gift in describing David’s artistry and I find her words flesh out the depth and breadth of what I feel and see but leaves my brain stuttering to find the words.

    Thank you TOfan!

  13. Kizzi says:

    I agree TOfan, his objective isn’t to be politically correct – he just was, and it was PeRfEcTiOn!

    What is so powerful in all this is the combination of a solid titanium faith combined with the personal quality of not wishing to offend…that to me is a most potent combination and gives authenticity to his testimony…I don’t have to believe as he believes…his message is spoken in a universal language if the listener but listens.

    And Awestruck,I am thinking about lucky as in fate type lucky. Not the random lucky. 🙂

  14. TOfan says:

    Thanks, guys, you are all very kind, but the truth is, what David does is really beyond words, isn’t it? Mine anyway.

    Although I did listen … and listen … and listen to the CD yesterday to try and give it a shot. You know, for the team. 😉

  15. Kizzi says:

    From Snarkies:

    Call David! 801.386.8196! 🙂

    “♫ I’ll be home for Christmas, you can count on me ♫ Well, it’s Christmas in October! “Christmas From the Heart” is in stores and online today! So, I’ve been waiting so long for this. I’m so excited for you guys to hear it. Happy Holidays. *silence* In October. *light chuckle

  16. TOfan says:

    Here it is on video:

    And Jive just tweeted to thank David’s fans for making the #ArchuletaXmasCD the #1 trending topic on Twitter already today!

  17. refnaf says:

    what a happy day, cd in stereo, case in hand, Oh David the liner notes *sniff*

  18. Kizzi says:

    Fun & interesting interview of David with LatinaRoom.com. Some same ol’ same ol’ questions and some new ones.

    http://tinyurl.com/yzveod3

    And Part II of the interview is tomorrow. The questions are from Twitter. Should be really fun!

  19. TOfan says:

    Thanks, Kizzi. The bolded parts had me ROTFLing:

    “Latinaroom: Your fans want to know what type of girl do you like?

    “David Archuleta: (Laughs) Well…people who just don’t feel like they have to try too hard or anything. But I like it when girls have respect for themselves. Not in a cocky way like, “I’m so amazing,” but just someone who respects themselves and someone who respects other people. Someone who is a little adventurous in trying different things, like you know going to different restaurants maybe or on a hike; just doing adventurous things. If they’re just like “Oh I just want to sit down and watch a movie all week long with you, I don’t want to do anything,” then that’s pretty lame, you know.

    ” [I like] someone who likes to be involved in things, someone who can be independent, but still cares about other people…Does that make sense? And they have to like music obviously, that’s pretty important (Laughs).”

  20. TOfan says:

    And this:

    “[I] kind of inherited the gene of loving Thai food” 😆

  21. Kizzi says:

    WHAT????!!!!!! Singing with an Orchestra! I’m in shock – and I can’t goooooo!

    Go here to read ——-> http://bit.ly/T4g4M

    “Former “American Idol” contestant David Archuleta has announced a concert date at Ann Arbor’s Hill Auditorium in conjunction with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, on Friday, Nov. 27 at 8 p.m.

    A2SO subscribers will get an exclusive chance to buy tickets from 10 a.m. Oct. 20-noon on Oct. 24. (Buy A2SO tickets online here.) Tickets for the Archuleta/A2SO concert go on sale to the general public Tuesday, Oct. 26, in person only at the center court in Briarwood Mall from 3-9 p.m. (times are tentative). Online, telephone and in-person sales begins at noon on Oct. 27.”

    Looks like regular subscribers and locals get to buy tix before out-of-towners. *sighs*

    MUST HAVE VIDEOS ple-eeeeea-se!

  22. betsyjaney says:

    Kizzi – I am always lamenting the fact that I don’t live in the East and David always has so many shows there.
    Have never been so glad to be a “local”!
    A2 is approx. 35 minutes away.

  23. Kizzi says:

    Oh, and, hmmmmm….no complaints from this Zombie about Jive & Azoff handling this tour. David & Orchestra & Christmas music = Total Win! I’m hearing the sound of “click, click, click” (as “in place”) for David’s future!

    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  24. Kizzi says:

    Oh betsy – you are sooo fortunate! I am so happy for you. I’ll be listening at home with tons of family for Thanksgiving Holiday for crumbs from the A2SO concert. And you can buy tix early too. Gah, I am super excited for you. An Orchestra….just imagine…it is just too much, just too much! *DAID*

  25. refnaf says:

    I’m hung up on Silent Night right now….
    Betsy, so happy for you…. David with an Orchestra, Ann Arbor is not THAt far….really

    Nice to see jive tweeting about the trending, Yay!

  26. TOfan says:

    Betsy!!!! That will be an incredible show with an orchestra … hmmm, it is on a Friday….

    I found this glowing write-up on the MGM Grand at Foxwoods venue’s site and when I downloaded the thumbnail pic above, the name of the file was “David_Archuleta_hero” … (methinks there’s an ArchAngel on staff!)

    “MGM Grand at Foxwoods site
    Archuleta, a seventh season runner-up on American Idol, first captivated audiences and went onto release a critically acclaimed self-titled debut album that sold over 700,000 albums. The Murray, Utah native soared to #2 on the Billboard charts, buoyed by his smash single “Crush.”

    “David Archuleta adds heartfelt sentiment to the Christmas season with the release of his follow up album. “This album represents my love for Christmastime, and what it really is all about,” he said. ‘This is a special time of year that we spend with family and loved ones. It means so much to each one of us. I hope you can all feel that in the music.’ “

  27. awestruck says:

    TOfan – I will add another AMEN after reading your article. Lovely words and all so true – except for perhaps the “6,432 verses of Good King Wenceslas” lol.

    I would love to hear HYAMLC live with more harmonizing than on the CD. One of those songs that would take on a different life IMO. Think Oprah? I think this duet will be advantageous for both artists – more exposure for each.

    What struck me most about all the songs – though I haven’t yet listened to O Holy Night and Ave Maria – is the ‘softness’ about the arrangements and with which David sings. Not relying on power house singing and/or overpowering background orchestration/support. His voice is predominante and full of emotion. It is truly a record made out of love.

    Brian Mansfield of Idol Chatter has written up a review of David’s CD http://content.usatoday.com/communities/idolchatter/post/2009/10/first-listen-david-archuletas-christmas-from-the-heart/1?loc=interstitialskip

  28. awestruck says:

    There seems to be a LOT of promotion happening, heh! Go Jive/Azoff

  29. TOfan says:

    Perhaps you’re right about the duet. And it will boost both their exposure, for sure.

    Charice certainly has the pipes but her style seems so retro for her young age … like she’s channeling Celine Dion. I’d have preferred Jordin Sparks, or even Brooke White.

    I think it gives us a glimpse of what might happen if David Foster ever got his hands on David. *ducks tomatoes*

  30. TOfan says:

    And now for something completely different:

  31. Sunshine says:

    Oh TOfan, thank you for finding the words. For some inexplicable reason my expectations for this album were modest. I don’t know why – I didn’t find that the snippets really sold it. But wow – it truly is a tapestry. Like you, I’m a lover of traditional Xmas music dating back to kindergarten (It Came Upon a Midnight Clear is my all-time fav).

    Wow – English, French and Latin on an 18-year old’s CD. Take that Bob Dylan.

  32. awestruck says:

    so kay TOfan, I kinda think that David Foster would be good for David too.

    woohoo ZG ftw – though I still can’t get me head wrapped around your thought of dance/club mixes of Riu Riu Chiu and Pat-a-Pan LOL

  33. awestruck says:

    Sunshine – don’t forget Spanish lol

  34. TOfan says:

    {{{Sunshine}}}!!!!

    I love ICUAMC too!! “…with Angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of goooooold”

    Awestruck, LOL, the great thing about Riu Riu Chiu is that radio stations could keep playing it long after Dec. 25th, it doesn’t scream “Christmas carol.”

  35. TOfan says:

    From Snarkies:

    Would this not have been an amazing CD cover?

    http://bit.ly/4s5DMm

  36. refnaf says:

    (((sunshine)))
    Tofan, uh… that was completely different, my youngest is quite into the anime stuff, cool visuals.
    I’m still stuck in Silent Night…

  37. TOfan says:

    LOL, Ref … it is a big jarring to go from weeping to OHN or WCIT to ZG … how will he mix the two in concert??? Maybe a ZG/Pat-a-Pan/Crush medley? 😆

  38. silverfox says:

    I’m coming in late and must get to bed so I can’t read your post TOfan, not yet. I will catch up tomorrow. 😀

    I spent all evening listening to CFTH over & over, and tweeting! 😆

    I can’t really pick a favorite, but if I had to choose right now I would have to say “Pat-A-Pan” & “Silent Night”.

    “Silent Night” was starting to be a little boring throughout the years for me. But David put new life into this classic and made it new for me, as only David can do. It’s beautiful!

    The producers & arrangers did a super job. I have to say, Jeff Archuleta as the Executive Producer, really knows what David is capable of and he made sure David had what he needed to make this album a masterpiece.

    Good night & Sweet dreams, Snow Angelz. Will catch up tomorrow!

  39. refnaf says:

    morning Angelz, yesterday was a sweet day…
    Silent Night is still in my soul… I think I’ll keep it there for a few days.
    ZG/pat a pan/Crush?? I’m in for that! Off to work, have a great day!

  40. TOfan says:

    SF, I so agree about the stellar arranging and exec. producing … David’s thank you to Jeff in his liner notes says it all.

    As much as I love the first CD, this one showcases David’s gifts like never before.

    I’m dying to move on to other songs, but Riu Riu Chiu has me under some kind of spell, lol.

  41. TOfan says:

    Reposting from end of prev. thread in case anyone missed it.

    Thanks, Abrra!!!

    “We have added all of the Christmas from the Heart song selections to the 24/7 video/chat site. I created 4 “sets” of the 13 songs and placed them in the rotation along with the regular videos we show. You will have several chances to hear the new CD. Thanks to Marlie for making the original ‘set’ and putting it up. You can go there 24/7 and David will be there singing his heart out for only you!”

    http://www.livestream.com/thedavidchronicleschannel

    Abrra ( who visits chat with no sound)

  42. Kizzi says:

    SF. [ waves ]

    Off to Detroit today.

    Ave Maria has me in its grips and I’m lovin’ every second.

    Happy day after CFTH release day! 11 days til 1st concert!

  43. awestruck says:

    SF – I agree that Jeff did David proud with the production of CFTH

    Kizzi – our lives as DA fans seem to revolve aroung countdowns lol. They make us feel ‘up’ in spirit, anticipating the next concert/appearance…

  44. Angelica says:

    I’d love to hear the rest of the album. I’ve listened to Ave Maria, (heavenly) and Riu Riu Chui several times too but after that, I keep being sucked back into Pat-A-Pan land. That voice forming words in French and then the stuccato clipped beat of the words in English, tapping out the words to the rhythm of the drum. “Bring your little drum…” The breath-taking crescendo with violins, then the slow harmonizing in soft ulta lower registers, (who is that singing there?) The song is a spell and I am under it sooooo bad.

  45. Josie says:

    hi everyone 🙂 listening to all of the songs non-stop. I’m simply in heaven – loving them all but some more than others (obs) 🙂

    One that I keep going back for another “closer” listen is What Child is This? It makes me well right up. Just beautiful.

    Happy day after day 🙂

  46. TOfan says:

    Angelica, Pat-a-Pan is a def. fave … “tu-ra-lu-ra-luuuu!” I would love to hear that one and RRC on the radio.

    Interesting that Joy to the World plays when you open David’s MySpace. I wonder if it’ll be released for radio closer to Christmas.

    I love that one too. Especially the note he holds at “wonders of his looooooove” at the end and the way it’s layered over the “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” melody … brilliant arrangement.

    Josie, I have to be careful when I listen to What Child is This for just that reason … office & highway driving are strictly off-limits!

  47. Josie says:

    TOfan-well I had my first “real” listen to WCIT yesterday in the grocery store!!!!! I had to duck into the produce to gather myself.

    Riu Riu and Pat a Pan both drive me wild – his voice is like buttah!

  48. awestruck says:

    Well do I have to pick just one? WCIS and Ave Maria then Silent Night for the traditional flavors, then P-a-P and RRC slay me too… never heard them before.

    OK, I will. Ave Maria tops my list TODAY.

  49. TOfan says:

    Finally found the Anniversary Issue of People magazine! …

    I don’t know if David was method-acting for those grabby-hands fan shots or if the “actors” themselves got a little carried away … he looks like he really had to fight them off.

    Probably a good thing he’s been working out! 😆

  50. awestruck says:

    TOfan and others – did you see the tiny pic of Rick and David on page 14? I am lovin’ the studded? belt.

  51. Angelica says:

    TOfan, Surely those working on the photo shoot were introduced to each other and to David, and became comfortable before the shoot. I feel that David was not afraid at all, he is pretty used to grabby girls and this was make believe. In short, I think he could be a dang good actor. He can show so many emotions on his face and even though many of his expressions in performance come from his feelings, that is what an actor does…taps into his feelings and physically expresses them.

    I am enjoying taking the songs on the CFTH album and savoring each one slowly. There is no need to rush; it is a long time till Christmas and much to enjoy. 🙂

  52. Angelica says:

    Since this is a thread about song reviews of the album, check out this review from Susan at Amazon.com:

    Accomplished and Ambitious? You betcha! Songs in English, Latin, Spanish and French, no less. Fearless in depth and breadth of choices. Orchestras, choirs, slow rhythms, fast tempos and in-between. At the core of every song, arising with rich, gorgeous clarity and crisp, sharp definition out of the surrounding music is David Archuleta’s velvety, smoky tenor.

    Every song speaks volumes. My top songs (and they change priority every time I listen):

    What Child Is This – Pure genius. Genuine, flowing seemingly from the center of Mr. Archuleta’s heart and faith. “This, this, is Christ the King…Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.” Vulnerable. Authentic. Tender. STUNNING. And then there are the vocals, the voice, the talent — but those are secondary to the purity and beauty of the message he delivers.

    Ave Maria – This prayer on the album is a rare and unexpected gift. The Infinite. God. Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God. Life. Love. To be among Angels. His vocalization of “Amen” is a tsunami of faith. A performance that levels mountains, makes angels faint and demons weep.

    O Holy Night – Soaring into the heavens and beyond. Massive love. The Universal One. That last verse is simply gorgeous: “Noel, Noel…O night, O night divine. Noel, Noel, O night, O night divine.”

    And, then, there is Pat-A-Pan. Mysterious. Edgy. A march. “Tu-re-lu-re-lu, pat-a-pat-a-pan.” David’s voice giving us the sound of the drum, pat-a-pan, and the fife (small flute), tu-re-lu-re-lu, that the shepherds played to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I suspect reams will be written about this song, especially the last sixty seconds. Especially the one regarding Pat

    The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel flashes through my mind when I hear the magnificent vocals and melodic interpretations with this collection of songs. Complete rapture. From agnostic to devout, no matter our personal beliefs, it is a conduit for us if we so desire, to touch the finger of The Divine.

  53. awestruck says:

    Angelica THANK YOU for that review from Susan at Amazon.com, it’s just lovely

  54. Angelica says:

    Disregard the partial sentence after the review of Pat-A-Pan. That was me. My bad. Meant to play favorites with her review of Pat a Pan but decided to leave it alone. How it got there anyway and in the body of her post instead of in my initial intro is a mystery. Much like the mysterious, edgy, wondrous Pat-A-Pan. Oh dear, I’m doing it again, aren’t I? Teehee Tu-re-lu-re-lu.

    Angelica who has stolen Abrra’s spamming wand and LOVING it! The power of the wand is exhilarating!

  55. Kizzi says:

    Sneaking in for a second – on conference call now and in meetings all day *yawns*

    go here for a BIG treat ——> http://bit.ly/rSlWS

    YAHOOOOOOOO!

    XXOOXX from MY HEART

  56. ‘By the time he asks “Why lies he in such mean estate where ox and mule are feeding?” my heart grows heavy with his at the poignancy of the lowly surroundings. Then the full impact of what child this is finally hits at the crescendo, and I weep with joy at “This, This is Christ the King.” ‘

    That is beautiful.

    Hey, I’m new 🙂

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