Chris’ note: There are a few different video versions of the song online, but this one is my favorite!

(In this latest blog series, I am sharing the stories behind some of my original recorded music. I hope you enjoy hearing the songs and reading the background behind each one. This month I’m sharing some original Christmas songs)

At my home church (Live Oaks Community Church) in Florida we have an outdoor venue called “The Grove” that includes a large outdoor stage, a JumboTron, a great sound system, and plenty of space for cars, golf carts, and outdoor seating. A couple of years ago I was asked to put together a Christmas concert event at the Grove. I thought it would be fun to do some Christmas songs in a genre that many people enjoy: Country/Bluegrass. I invited some great musicians from around the country to join me, and started assembling songs for the event.

Soon I realized there was no song that could become the theme song for the event, so I asked God for inspiration.

Being a Minnesota boy, for decades I was used to snow and cold temperatures during the holidays. As nice as it is to enjoy Florida weather, it still was a bit of an adjustment for me to experience a green, southern Christmas. The more I reflected on this, an idea came to mind: Paint a musical picture of Christmas here in the South!

Back in Minnesota our family often sang Christmas songs with guitars, banjo, and other instruments as the snow fell outside—along with the temperature! I decided to tell the Christmas Story from the vantage point of a warm climate where we can sing the same Christmas songs in worship to God in the person of Jesus Christ.

After all, it’s not about whether there’s snow, sand, rocks, water, ice, or grass around you on Christmas: Instead it’s about the reality of how God came to earth as a tiny baby. Emmanuel: God with us.

The first line of the song came to me: “It’s the 25th of December and all is bright and green, we’re sittin’ on the porch swing in a warm, southern scene…”

Some favorite old Christmas carols came to mind so I wove them into the song: O Come All Ye Faithful, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Angels We Have Heard on High”

The reality is that the word Christmas means “Christ come” and it doesn’t matter where you are on Christmas. God is real and came to earth! We can celebrate Christmas any place on earth, just as it is in Heaven, where Jesus reigns. This line came from that thought:

“Wherever you are stationed, in snowfall or in sun, you’ll do alright singing to the newborn Promised One…”

And so the song “Country Bluegrass Christmas” came to be.

In the studio, God provided great musicians such as Justin Rieken, Ken Wilson, Adam Ferris, Chelsea Kimball, and others to play the song with me. Hannah Kalisch played fiddle on the recording (you can see her picture on the video). I love the way the song and recording came together like a quilt to present the Christmas story in a fun yet meaningful way.

Most recently “Country Bluegrass Christmas” has been featured at our church’s multi-media light show “Come to the Light” seen by thousands. (FYI: it’s available as a single on i-tunes, Pandora, Amazon, and many more online sources).

Many people have told me it’s their new favorite Christmas song, and that warms my heart!

I invite you to share the song with people near and far: we all need a little Christmas joy in this challenging time.

Emmanuel—Jesus Christ—can bring joy out of your sadness and light into the darkest places of life.

God bless you this Christmas season!

Chris Atkins

(here are the lyrics to “Country Bluegrass Christmas”)

Country Bluegrass Christmas

Words and Music by Christopher J. Atkins© 2019.  All rights reserved.

It’s the 25th of December and all is bright and green

We’re sittin’ on a porch swing in a warm, southern scene

We are celebratin’ the birthday of the King

So we pull out the fiddle and we begin to sing

O come, all ye faithful, Joyful and triumphant,

O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.

Come and behold Him, Born the King of Angels!

O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him,

O come, let us  adore Him, Christ the Lord

With the banjo and a guitar and a mandolin right here

We’ll lend a voice in singing the songs of Christmas cheer

We might not have a snowfall or bells on a one-horse sleigh

But we’ll still having Christmas the country bluegrass way.          

       

O Little Town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by

But in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

Wherever you are stationed in snowfall or in sun

You’ll do all right in singing to the newborn Promised One

So join in celebratin’ the birthday of the King

Clap your hands and stomp your feet and join us as we sing

Angels we have heard on high, Sweetly singing o’er the plains,

And the mountains in reply echoing their joyous strains.

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

With the banjo and a guitar and a mandolin right here

We’ll lend a voice in singing the songs of Christmas cheer

We might not have a snowfall or bells on a one-horse sleigh

But we’ll still having Christmas ,Oh, we’re celebratin’ Christmas

We’ll still havin’ Christmas the country bluegrass way.