Mats Dernand Releases Gandalf-Inspired Christmas Song 'The Star'

Nov 25 2020

Swedish singer/songwriter Mats Dernánd has recorded an English version of his Christmas song 'The Star'. He was challenged by a co-worker to write a new festive song. "There are of course lots of fantastic Christmas songs", says Mats Dernánd. "So, what could I add? I chose to focus on God's plan of salvation and that what happened on Christmas night was something cozy and cute, but a crucial moment in world history. The hardest part is often getting started. And there I got unexpected help from something J R R Tolkien let Gandalf say in The Lords of the Ring."

Writing a new Advent and Christmas song felt like a fun challenge. The first question Mats asked himself was why some songs sound so "Christmas like". There must be some common denominators apart from the lyrics and chimes in the arrangement. "Our understanding of how a Christmas song should sound is other Christmas songs", says Mats. "I searched and found a couple of typical elements, such as chords and tone ranges, which I took with me in the process."

Musically, 'The Star' is a Christmas anthem with classical instrumentation, basically an entire symphony orchestra in digital form. "I could have made it easier for myself", says Mats. "But at the same time, it is an exciting and challenging project to write an arrangement for an entire orchestra. It was someone I had not done before."

Another challenge was the lyrics. Most of it already felt done in the Christmas genre. Mats decided to write lyrics that in many ways are the opposite of many Christmas songs that focus on the fact that it is so cozy to celebrate Christmas. "The message of Christmas is much bigger than that", says Mats. Mats stared at a white sheet before Gandalf came with unexpected help. "It's a bit like in the movies. He showed up just when you need him the most", says Mats.

In "The Lords of the Ring", Gandalf says that it should really be impossible for Frodo to destroy the ring. Gandalf's only hope is that Sauron, who is evil, could never imagine that anyone would voluntarily relinquish power. "I thought it was the same with the Christmas message. That God voluntarily wanted to be born in a filthy stable to later be killed for the sake of men, is just as impossible to understand for the evil one."

The song became a standing feature in the Advent celebration in Mats Church in Sweden. Eventually he recorded it, first in Swedish and now it is also available with an English text. "I like the song and want to give more people the chance to hear it, even outside Sweden."

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