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Vestal Goodman comment (0)

December 16, 2004

By Danny Jones

The Gift of Love
New Haven Records

As 2004 comes to a close, several new recordings have been introduced to the southern gospel music market and instantly, one of them has earned the distinction of being a collector’s item.

“The Gift of Love,” by the late Vestal Goodman, has a bitter-sweet sentiment attached to it as it is the first Christmas recording by the legendary vocalist — but sadly, it is also her farewell recording.

Ten songs are found on this New Haven release — and they read like a top 10 list of Christmas standards.

Vestal was certainly at her best as she performed such classics as “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Away in a Manger,” “O Holy Night,” “Silent Night,” “Silver Bells,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “The Christmas Song,” “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and “White Christmas.”

Vestal, in the liner notes of “The Gift of Love,” wrote, “Christmas is such a special time of the year. ... Every year we would all go to the church on Christmas Eve for the special singing and then hurry home to wait for Santa to visit our quaint farmhouse. The next morning we had the delightful and joyous time of opening the unique little gifts that are still very close to my heart.

“Yet the greatest gift was given that holy night in a manger when God sent the greatest gift of all to the world: Jesus. This truly was the gift of love.”

Vestal, on her final recording, put it all in perspective, and left a perfect Christmas message.

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