Kanye West's Sunday Service Choir delivered a Christmas album on Dec. 25 that digs into the meaning of the religious meaning behind the holiday.
The moving harmonies of Jesus Is Born stretch out over a one-hour, 24-minute period, singing praises about God, recounting Biblical narratives and reworking West's famous, secular anthems ("Father Stretch," "Fade" and "Ultralight Beam") that Sunday Service-goers are all too familiar with.
Check out the 10 most uplifting lyrics from Jesus Is Born below.
"Jesus, excellent/ That's the name that heals/ That's the name that delivers/ I tell ya, call it/ Jesus, excellent/ God has given him a name/ The name, Jesus/ Jesus, excellent/ Is thy name"
The chimes of a church organ greet listeners to the album's second track, which repeatedly calls Jesus's name "excellent." This line, which choir director Jason White preaches rather than the Sunday Service Choir sings, further unpacks that excellence by attaching omnipotent attributes — "That's the name that heals/ That's the name that delivers" — to the album's titular character. "Jesus" doubly serves as a mantra to remind those performing at and attending Sunday Service about the higher power's powers.
"Sometimes it's soft as a misting rain/ That gently touches our souls/ It cools the fire that burns in us/ And we simply lose control"
As the song's chorus pleas the Lord to "Let your love fall like rain," this verse juxtaposes its delicate features with its intense effects. Using rain as an analogy speaks to how this love touches everyone and feels light, but gives abundant qualities to His believers.
"Father, I stretch my hands to Thee/ No other help I know/ My Lord, my Lord/ My blessings, if I should count them all/ As countless as the stars/ My Lord, my Lord"
"Father Stretch" is the first song on the track list that's recognizable for Kanye fans, whether they've been to Sunday Service or not. Off his Billboard 200 No. 1 album The Life of Pablo in 2016, West — who serves as Jesus Is King's executive producer — brings back the beat of "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1" featuring Kid Cudi and truly soars with his previous gospel-rap idea sans the sexually explicit lyrics from the earlier version. The refrain shows how far-reaching God's love is by comparing one's blessings to being "As countless as the stars," which references the Abrahamic covenant when God promised Abraham with as many descendants as there are stars.
"Follow Me — Faith"
"Your love is favor/ We feel its faith/ Hey, your love is favor/ We feel its faith"
In another revamped version of a TLOP track, "Follow Me — Faith" is the Christian cousin of "Fade," but without Teyana Taylor's mesmerizing choreography. The focus this time around is on God's love, not the love from a woman, as the male lead singer effortlessly breathes and even stretches out the word "Faith" in the same way West once sang "Fade", making this song sonically resemble the original. This verse was initially written as "Your love is fadin'/ I feel it fadin'" for the 2016 hit.
"We're on an ultralight beam/ We're on an ultralight beam/ This is a God dream, this is a God dream/ This is everything, this is everything"
The last Sunday Service Choir TLOP takeover, "Ultralight Beam," stays true to the chorus, with flourishes from White here and there replacing Chance the Rapper's verse. The song doesn't stray from the track's original meaning of being saved or the backing choir's spirited delivery.
"We get so weak, blood starts racing through our veins/ We get so weak, Lord, it's something we can't explain/ We get so –, something 'bout the way you do the things you do-ooh-ooh/ It knocks us right off of our feet/ Can't explain why your love, it makes us weak/ Can't explain why your love, it makes us weak/ Can't explain why your love, it makes us weak"
The Sunday Service Choir rendition of S.M.V.'s hit single "Weak," which topped the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart for two weeks in July 1993, repurposes the powerful sensation of getting weak in the knees for a crush and transforms the humbling feeling into an act of fearing God.
"You brought the sunshine (You brought the sunshine)/ In my life (You are the lifeline)/ Throughout the lifeline (You brought the sunshine) and saved my life (Throughout the lifeline)/ Since then I have known Christ, there has been such a change in my life"
The groovy, trumpet-tinged track is a summer-ready gospel anthem, and the female lead singer's powerhouse soul vocals reign the larger-than-life track. The life-changing lyrics act as witness testimony to how Christ transformed these choir members by showing His light.
"Back to Life"
"So high we can see the ground/ How sweet the sound/ We live at, living at the top of the sky/ There's no more room for anything more (No, no, no, there's no)/ We state your name/ Your name we proclaim"
Perhaps the most physically "uplifting" lyrics in the entire 19-song compilation come from this verse from "Back to Life," which paints an awe-inspiring picture of what being at the top feels like after undergoing a divine transformation. The celestial theme of the track emphasizes how spiritually grounded this album is.
"When we think back where we started/ We were brokenhearted, now our/ Soul's anchored/ Every single day you're worthy/ To you we give the glory 'cause our/ Soul's anchored/ When we think back where we started/ We can't help but lift our hands up"
The chorus of "Souls Anchored" unveil the spiritual transformation of feeling "brokenhearted" to "worthy" when people devote themselves to God and feel Him lift them out of their discouraged state. The imagery within the lyrics positions the "we" at a low point ("brokenhearted") to later being "anchored" in faith, which sounds like a similar ground-level point but is actually set much higher because of the higher power whom "we can't help but lift our hands up" for.
"Woke up today feeling golly/ Glad to be part of God's body/ Lord, you're welcome 'en mi casa'/ Heaven's gon' be one big ole party/ Thankful for all we've been given/ You always take care of your children/ Every single moment, we lift them up/ All of God's people, stay with him"
"Paradise" is a near-perfect endnote to the album (despite being the third to last track), but the song describes the perfect ending for those who believe in God: eternal life. Inviting God into one's mind, body and soul — "Lord, you're welcome 'en mi casa' — while imagining Heaven as "one big old party" radiate mutually welcoming attitudes, showing the two-way street needed to have a spiritual relationship with God.
Listen to Jesus Is Born below.