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J. Shane Mercer, Published December 16 2009

Eide to offer new tunes at holiday concert

Christian musician Peder Eide has become a familiar sight in Fargo around the holidays, having brought his Christmas concert to the area for years.

That tradition won’t change this year, as Eide plays tonight at Olivet Lutheran Church in Fargo. What will be new is some of the music, as Eide released his third Christmas album, “Perfect Surprise” Nov. 1.

The Christmas concert, has been a regular part of Eide’s year, but it’s not the whole year. In fact, most of his shows are of the praise and worship ilk. And along with his Christmas shows, he writes, speaks and performs shows for groups of preteens and teens and is an advocate for the children’s advocacy ministry Compassion International.

Eide spoke with The Forum recently about Christmas memories, bell ringing, Christian arts and more.

On his Christmas concerts:

“The Christmas concert is a safe place to bring people. We don’t hit people over the head.” They want to remind people “how much God adores them and how much God loves them, and the whole purpose of Christmas was his plan to say, ‘I don’t want you to be orphans. I don’t want you to be alone. I want you to be closer. I want you to have real life of me.’ And that’s the whole purpose of Christmas. And that’s why we put so much investment and so much time into this tour.”

On why he recorded “Perfect Surprise”:

He wanted to give faithful fans something new. And he had “some new Christmas ideas and some new approaches to favorite Christmas songs were starting to come in my head. … We had people still wanting us to do the tour, but (his previous Christmas album) ‘Come on in’ is five years old now, and you just can’t keep chewing up that record time and time again.”

Memories from Christmas:

Eide grew up celebrating Christmas on the farm where his family lived in Hitterdal, Minn. He remembers the “looks on my parents faces when we would sit around and we were ready to open presents on Christmas Eve, and especially the look on my mom’s face and just remembering how she would just look around with such pride of her family. … Family’s a big deal in the Eide family. We’re very devoted to each other and very committed to always getting together during the holidays.”

On Christmas gifts: One year, Eide and his brother got oversized Tinker Toys. “That was one of the coolest gifts ever. We used those things forever, man. Oversized Tinker Toys were … a classic when I was growing up. I would say that was one of the better ones when I was growing up. I’d say later in life … when I’m home for Christmas (with) my wife and five children, I don’t need anything under the tree.”

On recently bell ringing outside a store with a church group:

It was 4 degrees. “And we’re singing, and you know, you just sing and people just sing along with you. They’re walking into Rainbow foods, you know. And everybody knew the songs. First verse only. Never get the second or third verse or people start mumbling or don’t know what to do.”

On the arts and the church:

“I think the best art should still be coming out of the church because we’re supposed to be connected with the most creative God. Why aren’t we the ones trying to make the best art? Not just the most popular art, but really, you know, incredible, unique – be the first ones to make it – art.”

On the effect of praise and worship music on Christian radio:

“When I look at worship music and how it’s written I think … there’s a lot of great stuff, but I think sometimes that there’s so much of that and sometimes it became such a big fad that the great story tunes seemed to disappear, you know. … In the overall picture, I think it’s a great thing because any tune that can help people connect with Jesus is awesome. We just want to make sure that we keep the balance, too.”

On the work of Compassion International:

“I love how they do it, and I love the integrity with which they do it. And I love that it’s about that individual relationship. And it works. I mean it really, really works. I’ve met adults in the states who have actually walked up to me in a concert and said, ‘I was a sponsored child.’ … And they’re like, ‘Yeah, I’m now married and I have my own family, and I’m actually an advocate now for Compassion.’ ”

If you go

Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734