GRAMMY® award-winning artists Casting Crowns and for KING & COUNTRY launched their “A Glorious Christmas Tour” at the H-E-B Center in Cedar Park on Thursday night. Presented by Compassion International, the tour brought together two critically-acclaimed, top-selling Christian acts for an incredibly theatrical, versatile and moving Christmas season performance. The tour launched on the heels of new holiday offerings from both bands. Casting Crowns have their EP It’s Finally Christmas, while for KING & COUNTRY has A for KING & COUNTRY Christmas LIVE, both of which were released in October of this year.
for KING & COUNTRY opened the evening with Australian brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone entertaining the audience with a drum-heavy display that featured an abundance of lasers, smoke, and beautifully colored lights. The duo played Christmas classics including “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “Angels We Have Heard on High,” in their own unique and rhythmic way. They also played some of their own Christmas inspired tunes including “Glorious” and “Baby Boy.” Their current single, “Little Drummer Boy”, with its driving percussive rhythm, was an obvious crowd favorite.
They took advantage of this opening night to introduce a brand new song “never played for anyone before.” Entitled “Joy,” it featured heavy use of a center-stage vibraphone and midway through launched into the familiar sing-song children’s chorus of “I need the joy joy joy joy down in my heart . . . down in my heart to stay.” A highlight of the set was when the duo bought out their GRAMMY® award-winning sister Rebecca St. James to join them for a couple of songs.
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After a presentation from Compassion International and a short intermission, the house lights fell and a single spotlight fell on Casting Crowns violinist Melodee DeVevo as she caressed the opening notes to “Gloria.” The hall soon lit up with a tremendous light display and all focus shifted to vocalist Mark Hall singing at the center stage piano. The seven-member band proceeded through a wide variety of beautiful holiday songs interspersed with some short inspirational stories. Following the formula laid out by for KING & COUNTRY, they too played Christmas classics mixed among their own holiday compositions. “Joy to the World,” “What Child is This,” and “Oh Holy Night” shared the spotlight with “Glorious Day” and “One Step Away.”
Although Hall took the lion’s share of lead vocals, keyboardist Megan Garrett brought her spectacular talent to the mix on more than one occasion. The band – made up of Juan DeVevo and Josh Mix on guitars, Chris Huffman on bass, Brian Scoggin on drums and the aforementioned Melodee DeVevo on violin and cello – weaved a brilliant tapestry that lifted these classic songs to another level. And the crowd was in sync, singing and waving their arms in both joy and praise.
Casting Crowns finished the night with a prayer before playing a beautiful and subdued version of “Silent Night.” ‘Twas a beautiful end to a beautiful evening and a glorious start to their Christmas tour.
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About Compassion International:
Founded in 1952, Compassion International is a Christian child development organization that works to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Compassion revolutionized the fight against global poverty by working exclusively with the Church to lift children out of spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty. Compassion partners with more than 6,700 churches in 25 countries to deliver its holistic child development program to over 1.8 million babies, children and young adults. It is the only child sponsorship program to be validated through independent, empirical research. For more about the ministry, visit compassion.com or follow them on Twitter @compassion.