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Steven Curtis Chapman has a knack for weaving a message into his music and then putting it into action.

This fall offers plenty of evidence, with the release of a Christmas CD and a concert DVD and appearances to encourage adoption.

Adoption is a major cause for the Chapman family, which now includes two young daughters adopted from China.

Last month, Chapman performed at the Congressional Angels in Adoption Awards Banquet in Washington, D.C. Next week, he and his wife, Mary Beth, will appear with their daughters on “Adoption,” a special on the Hallmark Channel.

Two years ago, the Chapmans were honored as “angels in adoption.” This year, the contemporary Christian singer stayed up until 1 the morning of the banquet composing the song “Angels Among Us” to perform that night. He placed the music and lyrics in his guitar case, put the case in a cab — and never saw it again.

Without the lyrics, Chapman took the stage that night without missing a beat. The lyrics express the importance of adoption in the lives of birth mothers, children and adoptive parents. The chorus especially honors those who adopt, with the lyrics: “There are angels among us. Angels cleverly disguised. They keep their wings hidden away. Heaven’s light is in their eyes.”

Earlier this year, the Chapmans adopted a second daughter from China, naming her Stevey Joy. Their first adoptive daughter is 4-year-old Shaohannah, whose name is used for Shaohannah’s Hope Foundation, which helps people who want to adopt.

Before the banquet, Chapman said little in his life has inspired him more than adopting his daughters. He realized that both parents and children have been blessed. “Every time you watch them run through the house … I think, what would we have missed? … What would they have missed?”

Mary Beth said that it sometimes “feels like we have two little families” — when counting her three older children — but added “the blessings far outweigh” any difficulties.

“I feel like God said, ‘Come wipe her nose and get to know me a little better,’” she said.

In conjunction with next week’s Hallmark “Adoption” special, Chapman will release the CD “Christmas Is All in the Heart.”

I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of Christmas albums — too many annoying sleigh bells.

However, Chapman presents an appealing mix of traditional and contemporary songs, ranging from “O Little Town of Bethlehem” to the touching ballad that provides the CD’s title.

It’s carried by Chapman’s warm vocals and simple acoustic accompaniment — with only a hint of sleigh bells.

Unfortunately, the CD is available only in Hallmark stores. However, if you’re interested in a good, new Christmas CD, you might want to give Mom a call and ask her to pick up a copy for you.

In addition to all of this, Chapman last week released his second DVD, “Steven Curtis Chapman Live.” The disc covers last year’s “Live Out Loud” concert tour, which drew more than 200,000 people.

Fans might wonder why he’s offering another DVD only a year after releasing a solid collection of his concept and concert videos. Chapman admits, “I had no desire to do a live DVD.” However, that changed as the tour unfolded and the impact of one segment of the show became apparent.

Each night, Steve Saint and Mincaye, an Auca Indian from South America, took the stage to describe how Saint’s father, Nate, Jim Elliot and three other missionaries were killed by Auca warriors — Mincaye among them — in 1956.

Mincaye then told of his conversion to Christianity.

Chapman said the powerful segment enthralled concert-goers and prompted him to think: “I’ve got to figure out a way to recapture that experience. It was so profound, we had to capture it.”

The result was the DVD’s 20-minute “Beyond The Gates Of Splendor.”

On the Web: www.scchapman.com and www.shaohannahshope.com

Final notes

• Since I ran long this week, I’ll need to drop the Top 10 sales list. If this ruins your week, please let me know and I’ll never do it again.

• My last column mentioned that Rebecca St. James remixed her song “I Thank You” in honor of troops serving in the war on terrorism. The video for that song is now available on the “WOW Hits 2004” DVD.

— Today’s Praise is a roundup of news and reviews from the contemporary Christian music industry. It appears every other week on the Religion page.

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