Monday, August 22, 2011

Two Worship Albums This Year That Make Me Hopeful - Part Two

In my first post on this subject, I wrote about Matt Redman's 10,000 Reasons album. In this post I would like to briefly touch on another album released this year and then give a summary of my thoughts.

The second of the albums is "God of Victory" by The Village (from The Village Church).

With regards to the lyrics, this album has a lot of great lyrics that are theologically rich. In many respects, it has some similar themes as the Redman album. However, there are also some other themes that are sung about - how many modern worship songs do you know that deal with the doctrine of The Trinity as "O God of Our Salvation" does?

O God, The Holy Spirit
Revealing Deity
The fount of life and love divine
Throughout eternity
- O God of Our Salvation

There on the cross He bore our sins
And we became His righteousness
Now we stand here justified
Now we live because He died
- Made Us Alive

In my place, Jesus died
The spotless Lamb laid down His life
The wrath of God was satisfied
In my place, Jesus died
- In My Place

I am guilty but pardoned, by grace I’ve been set free
I am ransomed through the blood you shed for me
I was dead in my transgressions, but life you brought to me
I am reconciled through mercy, to the cross I cling
- To The Cross I Cling

I certainly hope that these Biblical topics cause you to reflect on what God has done by sending Jesus to "to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Cor. 5:21) and then by the sending of the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth and convict us of sin. (John 16:7-13). This is what life is about. This is the proclamation of the Gospel. And it is truly encouraging to me seeing that (mainstream/"popular") worship leaders are using these truths as the foundation of their lyrics.

I would also like to add that I don't want anyone to think I've written off other modern worship artists just because the "theological" content of the lyrics isn't quite as obvious or blatant. I've been very encouraged seeing more music of late with a lot of content that comes straight from scriptures, even if sometimes it seems the song may veer away from that at points. But in addition to just singing along with the songs, I urge you to look in the Bible to see if your favorite songs are rooted in Scripture.

I would love to hear about more musicians that are approaching songwriting like this - let me know of any others. This more doctrinal emphasis in lyrics is very encouraging for The Church!

Finally, and I say this somewhat in passing as I have been listening more to The Village album in particular, there seems to be more of a cadence with the verses than I've noticed on other "praise and worship" albums. They are very rhythmic and it sometimes has the feel of a hymn, which is good. It's not very obvious, but I do get that feel - especially when reading back over the lyrics.

And, as I said in the first post, you really should go get these albums. Now.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Two Worship Albums This Year That Make Me Hopeful - Part One

This year, there have been two worship albums I've purchased that make me very hopeful about the state of modern ("contemporary") worship. In general, here is why I believe this - the lyrics have a deep theological emphasis while at the same time the music is good, modern, but not distracting, and draws people into deeper worship with an expectancy about what God is going to do and has already done for us. In this first part, I will do a mini-review of one of the albums and a follow-up post will be about the other album. I would really urge you to to go out and buy these albums. Now. :)

The first of the albums was more recently released. It is "10,000 Reasons" by Matt Redman. As this is the most recent album for Redman, you can really tell that his songwriting has improved over the years (I've been listening to his albums since "Heart of Worship" back in 1999 and he's always been blessed by God with songs that have good lyrical content). However, I believe this is his best work yet. You can look around for more reviews, but this one by Zac Hicks encompasses a lot of my initial thoughts on the album as well.

Lyrically, this album has a huge focus on our Justification and Glorification. There is a lot less focus on what we will be doing in the here and now to serve God (part of our Sanctification, certainly) - which is where many worship artists place focus. I could quote from nearly every song as an example of what I mean here, but here are a few lyrical samples in album order.

What heart could hold
The weight of your love
And know the heights
Of Your great worth?
What eyes could look on
Your glorious face
Shining like the sun?
- Holy

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore
- 10,000 Reasons

Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
- Never Once

We couldn't escape
The sin and the shame
That kept us bound
We couldn't break through
We couldn't reach You
So You reached down
- Where Would We Be

O this God is our God even till the end
Standing strong over us, time and time again
Even till the end
- O This God

And, I believe the lyrics that I like the most may be on the last song. They're truly speaking of how Jesus has imparted his righteousness to us through the Cross!

When I stand before Your throne
Dressed in glory not my own
What a joy I'll sing of on that day
No more tears or broken dreams
Forgotten is the minor key
Everything as it was meant to be
As you can see, there is a lot of depth to the lyrics. I hope that many of these songs will stay with the Church and that we will be able to worship through these songs and focus on what God has done for us. I believe that when we focus on The Gospel (the good news of what God has done), then we will be grateful and be more conformed to Christ and then we will be able to do what He has asked us to do. As Jesus said, "My yolk is easy and my burden is light" - this is because we rely on what he's accomplished on our behalf and the overflow of our love for Him will come out in our lives! Although this album has barely been out for over a month, we have used 4 songs in worship already and will be using 2 more new ones in the next few weeks.