The Heart of Christmas – Brian Doerksen
by Marika Siewert
“Magical Lights”, “Just Before the Silent Night”, “Saddest Season”, and “Stille Nacht” are just a few of the titles you’re going to find on the brand-new, highly-anticipated Christmas album from Abbotsford native, and multi-award winning singer/songwriter, Brian Doerksen.
The Heart of Christmas is Brian’s first-ever Christmas album, crowd-funded by his community of fans, friends and family, and it encompasses every emotion that Christmas can bring, in the 15 tracks featured.
Rewind a little, and it’s Spring 2019. “Bri Chai” is on the stove. It’s what I personally like to call the best chai tea I’ve ever tasted, and it’s Brian’s special recipe that he makes daily for his afternoon chai time with Joyce – his wife of 35 years, and also for guests and friends including my family and I, when we come over for a catch-up evening. After a wonderful family dinner, prepared by Joyce, I casually persuade Brian to play me some of the initial demo tracks that he is working on. It’s been Christmas at the Doerksen house all year long.
Brian plays “Magical Lights” – just the vocal and guitar – and I immediately know this album is going to be life-changing and inspiring to so many. I had no words as I was impacted by the beauty of the lyrics, the Christmas melodies woven throughout, and the inkling that this was the beginning of a special album that was going to be a staple in my record collection for years to come. Fast forward to October/November/December, and the album is pressed and ready to go online, on CD and also on vinyl.
Brian says, “What is the heart of Christmas? These songs are my reply. It’s not complete nor conclusive, but for now, I’m content with my response. In the mess and magic of our ordinary lives, God is with all of us. I grew up in a house of faith hearing the story every year, the same physical home where Joyce and I still live, the home where members of our family have celebrated Christmas for 50 years. Here we raised our six children and retold the Christmas story every year, the story that is all at once impractical, implausible, even impossible yet incredibly and astonishingly true. This story, and the love it reveals, keeps moving hearts and changing lives. God has come. Light shines in the darkness. Love is real.”
Among the celebratory songs of the season, Brian has included “Saddest Season”, written and purposefully included for all those that have experienced loss and are dealing with grief and sadness at a time where often the overall expectation of the season is to be joyful.
Brian says, “The yearly traditions that help us ‘remember the Christ’ and make Christmas meaningful, at the same time can make the season difficult for all of us who have lost parents, partners and loved ones who helped bring the holidays to life in our lives. How do we carry on the celebrations in their absence? We do carry on, but with every step, we are aware that grief is the price we pay for love. This is part of Christmas too. That’s why I included ‘Saddest Season’ in this album. Even though laments are not popular, as human beings we need to be emotionally honest. At the same time, and in time, we also need hope and a return of joy. But we know that joy, real joy comes not from a present wrapped in shiny paper, but from a person. Thank goodness Jesus came. Thank goodness He accepts us all, even if all we can offer him right now is our tears.
“I want to dedicate this album to all who love Christmas and Christmas music but, most of all, I made this album for all who struggle with Christmas. May this album be like a softly burning candle. May it be an hour’s respite from the relentless rush of the season. May it be the gentle presence of Jesus, a whisper of grace on your longest night.”
This album is truly a piece of great art in itself, and all throughout has moments and melodies that will move our hearts. It is a great album to have, and an even greater album to share with someone you love.
The Heart of Christmas album releases November 15. Check out www.briandoerksen.com for Christmas tour dates.
For years, Brian has travelled the world leading worship in churches, teaching songwriters and singers, and he continues to impact people through his music and speaking events.
He is well known globally for songs like “Come, Now is the time to worship”, “Faithful One”, “I Lift My Eyes Up” and he continues to both create and teach the next generation of songwriters and singers. He is the best chai tea maker in the land, and his heart for empowering young artists, giving female artists a voice, and understanding the importance of diversity, faith, grief and hope, make way for him to be one of the wisest and truest songwriters and artists in Christian music today – and beyond.