As I’ve said before, the perfect praise set is like the perfect wedding: something old and something new.
A Christmas praise set is no different. With so many new Christmas praise songs being written these days, the “new” part is covered.
However, some contemporary churches think they’re too hip to sing traditional carols at Christmas. I’ll never forget visiting a famous megachurch one Christmas only to hear them open the service by performing the rock version of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and then… not a single Christmas song in their praise set the Sunday before Christmas!
The worship leader should have been tarred and feathered. Your congregation wants (and actually expects) to hear Christmas music during the Christmas season. Who in their right mind would not expect to hear Christmas music… in a church… at Christmas! With the wealth of contemporary Christmas arrangements at our disposal these days I’m sure you can find an arrangement of “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” that fits the style of your church.
As you plan your December praise sets you might want to choose a new Christmas worship song and do it every week during December so your congregation can become familiar with it. Introduce the new song first as a special, then invite the congregation to join in on a final chorus. Repeat for the next two weeks, skip the week before Christmas then sing the new song on Christmas Eve.
I recommend doing one Christmas song at the beginning of the season and surrounding it with your regular praise songs. For instance, have a typical 3-4 song praise set, then use a longer Christmas arrangement like my Bethel Worship-inspired version of O Come All Ye Faithful (Adore) for the offertory special right before the sermon. Add another song each week until the week before Christmas you do all Christmas music.
For a simple Christmas praise set format I’ll use my Light Has Come Set Starter as an example.
I start out with the upbeat, easy-to-learn new song “Our God Is Born” and transition directly into my upbeat version of O Come All Ye Faithful. This version starts strong and ends light, helping you flow into a Scripture reading and/or prayer. Then out of this quiet moment starts “Light Has Come (O Little Town)” – the new Christmas ballad that turns O Little Town of Bethlehem into a worship song.
There you have a quick and easy three song Christmas set template: two upbeat songs, a reading and a ballad.
Worship leaders tend to be run ragged at Christmas. Push a little harder this year and make sure every week in December has something extra special.