Mars Hill Music Debuts First Christmas Project: 'Joy Has Dawned'

Seattle-based Mars Hill Church, through its music recording label, will be releasing its first Christmas project next week by the eclectic worship band Kings Kaleidoscope.

Mars Hill Music announced that the EP, titled Joy Has Dawned, "tells the epic story of Christ's birth; the glorious, mind-blowing mystery of God becoming man to save the world." The album will be available for sale on iTunes and at on Nov. 27.

Kings Kaleidoscope is based at Mars Hill Church Ballard, just north of Seattle. Made up of over a dozen musicians of varied backgrounds and musical styles, Kings Kaleidoscope has created a sound that is achieving a following of their own.

"Like many of the other Mars Hill artists, Kings is dedicated to bringing new life to old hymns," Mars Hill Music stated. "When melding these beautiful classic songs with Deacon Chad Gardner's distinct vocal and instrumentation that includes as a string trio, a horn section and a glockenspiel, Joy Has Dawned features a sound that is uniquely Kings Kaleidoscope."

Mars Hill Church, which is led by a variety of band singers and musicians at its 14 locations, formed its record label earlier this year.

In June, Mars Hill Music label manager Jonathan Dunn, who has been at the helm of the venture for the last year, told The Christian Post that it was time to take what Mars Hill worship bands have been doing for the last 10 years "off the grid" and begin sharing globally.

"The first thing people often think of when they hear Mars Hill Music is that we're a group of punk rock Calvinists who hate the modern worship movement. Mars Hill Music is setting out to change that perception. Our music is not an expression against anything but instead an outgrowth of our theology, who we are, and the communities our churches are in. We love Jesus and are expressing that love in our own way," Dunn said.

When asked to explain why this perception may have developed, Dunn told CP that it may have been this sense that the bands and musicians were aloof, especially in the Seattle area "where music is really prominent."

"For the last 10 years we've kind of been off the grid, off the radar, doing our own thing. That's not where we are at. That's kind of a bad reputation we've built over the years," he explained. "We are really working on sharing what we are doing musically, providing resources for other churches, [including] songs, arrangements, and the theology behind the songs we are using and hopefully have other people worshipping God through the music that we are producing here instead of trying to just be face down in what we are doing here."

The record label organization said Kings Kaleidoscope carefully selected each song for Joy Has Dawned in a specific sequence so the "album would build from humility in the incarnation to the full glory of the exalted, prophesized Jesus."

"Come Thou Long Expected Jesus" starts things off with a cry for Jesus to come and be the savior of the world. With great anticipation of the coming messiah, the lyrics look toward a king who will set us free from sin and slavery:

Come thou long expected Jesus
 Born to set thy people free
 From our fears and sins release us
 Let us find our rest in thee

"O Holy Night" recalls the actual night of Jesus' birth, the moment in which the longing for a savior was fulfilled in his incarnation. The only hope for the pain, suffering and brokenness of this world was born in a manger.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
 Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth

The church's pastor, Mark Driscoll, has more than 300,000 combined followers on Facebook and Twitter. His sermons receive more than 10 million downloads per year and consistently rank #1 on iTunes, according to a Mars Hill spokesperson.

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