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The Christian side of Christmas music

Pure Christmas
Pure Christmas
By Sylvia Lange

Self-released: 2008

This review first appeared in the December 11, 2008 issue of the North County Times.

Issued late last year (and only received after our roundup of new holiday music had already run), this release from San Diego's Sylvia Lange is in a contemporary Christian vein, although it also branches into acoustic folk and jazz. Produced by Encinitas' Peter Sprague, the mix has a classic timelessness – it's the sort of holiday release that resides in a sort of suspended animation where it's always Christmas.

Lange has a rich voice, and knows how to wrap it around Sprague's arrangements, which bring a fresh approach to songs like "Silent Night" and "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." Including lesser-known songs such as "Miracle," "Christ Child's Lullaby" and "Love Comes Down at Christmas" keeps things fresh.

A special treat is Lange including an instrumental version of "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," with Sprague playing the song on acoustic guitar. Another such treat is having composer Hugh Martin sit in on piano for "Have Yourself A Merry Little Version," with Lange singing his updated sacred lyrics.