The Hagee family has by and large been more known best for the work of the family patriarch, Pastor John Hagee For years, Hagee has pastored San Antonio’s Cornerstone Church, helming a successful televangelism ministry and authoring numbers of best-selling books. Yet, for all his pastoral roles, Hagee has always boasted a love of music, particularly southern gospel, and he imparted that love to his children and they have long taken that love and talent to the studio, recording several well-received albums over the years. Now, the Texas family is together again and has set their sights on the Christmas season with their latest, simply titled Christmas.
Produced by longtime music veteran Michael Sykes with some additional assistance from Aaron Crabb, the record keeps things fairly traditional, offering up Christmas standards sacred and secular alongside a few originals, holding a few surprises as well. One of those surprises comes in the opening track as the family takes on the MercyMe track, “God With Us,” and is largely successful, due to the strong tenor vocals of Matthew Hagee. It’s an eye opening track to open the record with, particularly for those expecting some more southern in their gospel.
Those fans will enjoy the original song, “Glory to God,” which again showcases Matthew’s voice as well as songwriting skills, penning the track alongside Aaron Wilburn. It’s a bit more old school in its delivery which we delight southern gospel fans while those enjoying some contemporary flair will rally around the family’s rendition “A Baby Changes Everything” as Sandy Parker shows off some serious pipes.
A mixture of classics are in the mix as well, finding the Hagees tackle “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “White Christmas,” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” as well as traditional carols like “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Silent Night,” all rendered faithfully but tending to lack any real new nuances. The same can be said of their take on “O Holy Night” as father John takes the lead, his traditional baritone failing to match the rising passion of the song. He doesn’t necessarily sound bad but when listeners are more accustomed to the high, soaring crescendos associated with this track, it just sort of falls flat.
A little bit of soul comes alongside a journey through “That Spirit of Christmas” and a fresh spin is put upon “Blue Christmas,” upping the tempo a bit and adding in some playful percussion and keyboards, giving a renewed feel. Finally, it’s a return to their roots with a powerful ballad as the album closes out with a passionate rendering of “Who Would Imagine a King?”
The Hagees are a multi-faceted family but, through it all, they’re a family first and foremost. On Christmas, listeners are once again treated to the subtle power of those relationships and harmonies as they reflect through the music. It doesn’t hurt that this is a talented family and, while they don’t necessarily reinvent the wheel here, they’ve offered up a solid selection of listens to brighten your holiday season.