Phil Wickham’s “Face of God”, A Christmas Song Review
- Many songwriters have tried to pen new Christmas hymns or choruses. Some are great, and some fall short. With Face of God I think Wickham hits the mark. It’s one to put in the Christmas playlist this year.
With Face of God, Phil Wickham captures a moment in time that is humble and intimate, between a mother and her newborn son. It’s a moment that would save mankind and shake the very foundations of the world. In a small stable, in a small Judean town, the baby Jesus lies in his mother’s arms. As the animals doze in their stalls, the humble stable is lit only by a simple candle or two. The smell of hay lingers in the air. Exhausted, Mary holds her son. Joseph kneels near her, his face creased with worry for his beloved, and their son, coming into the world in such a place as this. But Mary smiles as she gazes into the face of her child.
Face of God echoes traditional standards like Silent Night and Away In The Manger. Its imagery is poignant, the melody is simple but interesting, and the song’s composition fosters a connection to Mary’s heart.
Wickham’s performance, with just piano and solo vocals, is patient, passionate, and prayerful. He leaves plenty of room for reflection, creating a heartfelt Christmas worship experience.
The chorus revolves around the word ‘Gloria’. It ends with the lyric, “Gloria, the Savior of the world is in her arms, she’s staring at the face of God.” This frames the picture of the stable story and Christ’s humble beginnings.
The song’s open quality and chord structure is best suited for at least intermediate level guitar or piano players, especially if it’s going to be sung in the more stripped-down version, as Wickham does. However, it is well written so it can be arranged with more extensive instrumentation in a bigger arrangement. Because of this, the song has extensive dynamic possibilities, making it a great addition to a Christmas season worship service.
Many songwriters have tried to pen new Christmas hymns or choruses. Some are great, and some fall short. With Face of God I think Wickham hits the mark. It’s one to put in the Christmas playlist this year.
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Christopher Watson is an author of six books, both fiction and non-fiction. He is also a musician and composer with a B.A. in Music from Azusa Pacific University. For several years Christopher led worship at The Springs Church while attending Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas Texas. He's been involved with worship in a number of churches in California and the Pacific Northwest both as a musician and in production and technology. Now he lives and writes in Washington State with his amazing wife, wonderful daughters, and highly intelligent dog, Ellie Mae.