Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sola Scriptura by Neal Morse

The new Neal Morse album, Sola Scriptura, is nothing less than spectacular. It's based off the life of Martin Luther - the title is one of the "Solas" of the Reformation meaning that "Only Scripture" should be our guide. The back of the CD insert has the Latin text of the first 6 phrases of Luther's 95 Theses. Before getting into the musical aspects of this album, I would like to post some of the lyrics that really stand out to me. First, Jeff posted the tracks back in January. There are only 4 tracks on this epic:

* The Door (29:14)
* The Conflict (25:00)
* Heaven In My Heart (5:11)
* The Conclusion (16:34)

The Content
Some lyrics from the section "Mercy for Sale" in "The Door" really get to the heart of what Martin Luther was battling - especially with Indulgences:
In the name of God you must pay your penance
If you don't well that's a crime
If you want to buy your way to heaven
We'll indulge you every time
Also from "Upon The Door" in the same track, we have:
Sometimes comes a moment when there is no escape
A man by candlelight reads "The just shall live by faith"
And a rushing ray of light comes and hits him at the core
I will write my words upon the door

History is hinged on him playing out the role
The dawn is coming after the dark night of the soul
This simple act has changed our world forever more
I will write my words upon the door
I will write my words upon the door

In the section "Underground" in "The Conflict", we have the following - and we should all be thankful that Luther translated the Bible into German because that opened the way for us to have English Bibles:
I thought I was coming to die
And that's what they're thinking outside
But I will stay lost
'Til it's safe there to be found

Writing the book in the day
In words that my people can say
Here I will stay tucked away
I'm underground

And I'll just leave you with the section "In Closing" from "The Conclusion":
God can change the world with just one willing soul
Who will stand up for the truth and give him a starring role
So come in to the fullness and open up the door
Maybe it is you he's looking for
Maybe it is you he's looking for......

The Music
If you're familiar with Neal Morse's prior works, this is very much like those. "The Door" starts off with heavy keys and then gets into the powerful lyrics. Mike Portnoy's drumming is awesome throughout and the fills he adds really make the songs. As I mentioned in my previous post about G307, Paul Gilbert is really amazing with his solos. The fills at about 16:00 into "The Conflict" and the solo at 27:00 in are superb! After the powerful first song that's over 29 minutes, one feels like an entire album has been covered with the various styles. And then "The Conflict" starts with a really crunchy guitar intro. Then the usual prog-rock style comes back and about 14:00 in we come to an amazing flamenco classical guitar part delivered by Gilbert. The next song "Heaven In My Heart" could almost be a radio song if it could be separated from the remainder of the album. It's still a really good prog song but it's fairly slow. With so many different sections in the first 2 songs, we've already run the gamut from fast to slow, heavy to soft, and even classical. It's extremely eclectic! "The Conclusion" starts off with "Randy's Jam" - a bass led section featuring Randy George. It's pretty wild - I need to listen to it on my system with a subwoofer! The rest of the album continues the theme of great rocking prog!

Like I said earlier, this album is really spectacular and you should check it out! At the end of the liner notes we find this from Neal:
Also, I am not trying to point to only one church that needs to be reformed, but rather that we should ALL look at the scriptures afresh to see what truth God wants to restore in THIS generation! If Luther brought back salvation by faith; the Wesleys brought sanctification, and the Pentecostals restored the baptism of the Holy Ghost, what is there for US to restore? Remember, the latter house shall be greater than the former!

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