Baton Rouge can look forward to a double dose of worship singer Chris Tomlin this month.
His latest Christmas album will release Oct. 23, while the man himself will perform in Baton Rouge Oct. 20. The tour is called “Love Ran Red” after Tomlin’s album released a year ago. The name comes from the song “At the Cross (Love Ran Red),” which Tomlin said was his favorite on the album.
“This lyric came ‘where your love ran red and my sin washed white, I owe all to you.’ That’s just so beautiful and hit me so hard. I love singing it. I love what it means, what it means about the cross, the blood of Jesus that washed as white as snow,” Tomlin said.
Asked to name other favorites from his nearly two-decade career, familiar names spilled out: “How Great is Our God,” “Whom Shall I Fear,” “Our God” and “Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone).”
Tomlin said those songs as well as new ones from “Love Ran Red” will be on the playlist.
“People come because they love these songs, so I don’t want to just play songs people don’t know ... I am looking forward to playing in Baton Rouge. It’s close to my roots, being from Texas.”
Rend Collective will open the show.
“They bring such a beautiful energy. They are crazy, and they are fun,” he said.
Tomlin and his labelmates at sixsteps records, including Matt Redman and David Crowder, are consistently in the top songs list published by the company that licenses songs to sing in churches.
“That’s just God’s goodness to us,” Tomlin said.
He emphasized that he writes songs for the church and that has always been his path.
“I’ve been trying to be faithful to write simple songs that would give people something to sing in their heart.”
He also described how his songs moved through churches long before they knew the writer.
“For the longest time I was chasing my songs all around the world. People knew the songs and had no clue who I was. I love that.”
Tomlin’s latest Christmas project is called “Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship.”
“It’s a continuation of what I did six years ago on ‘Glory in the Highest,’” he said. “I love music at Christmas. I love writing these songs. It’s a balance of standards and some of the great hymns of Christmas and some new songs.”
Tomlin said the first Christmas album is his favorite album and he’ll be very happy if this one is close to that standard.
Rather than the realm of “Jingle Bells” and large production numbers, Tomlin sticks to the live sing-along format of the first album with 200-300 people singing in a church that has been converted into a recording studio.
“We wanted to make an album of worship around the birth of Jesus,” he said.
“There’s not really another season, another holiday, that has its own genre of music. It’s that special,” Tomlin said. He added that Jesus’ time on Earth “for about 2,000 years at least has caused singing.”
Songs on the album include “Adore,” written by a friend.
“I absolutely begged him to record it for this album. It’s a real easy song, real beautiful.”
The opening track, “He Shall Reign Forevermore,” written with Matt Maher, was inspired by Handel.
“We were looking at Handel’s ‘Messiah,’ obviously one of the greatest pieces or work there is, and I thought, ‘Man, is there a way to bring in that “he shall reign forever more, king of kings, lord of lords,” that big part, is there a way to bring that into a modern way of singing it?’”
As with the first holiday album, guest artists appear, including Louisiana native Lauren Daigle with a song called “Noel.”
“It’s kind of like Audrey (Assad)’s thing with ‘Winter Snow.’ (on the first album) It’s just stunning, best thing on the record,” he said.
Other guests are All Sons and Daughters, and on a deluxe edition at Target, Crowder joins in.
“Life has change dramatically in the past 5 years,” Tomlin said.
The singer’s married now and has two young daughters.
“It’s affected (life) in a good way. I feel like my life is richer than it’s ever been because of family, and as far as music, I still have the same passion.”
Tomlin said life is more challenging, but “I love what I get to do, and I love that people come to hear us play music.”
As for the future, the Christmas album is up next, followed closely by the annual Passion conference. Passion is a ministry aimed at college students that Chris Tomlin and his friend Louie Giglio have led since its beginning in 1997.
Also, Tomlin is working on a new album. While the album won’t be out for a year, its first single, “Good, Good Father,” should be playing on radio soon.