On the surface..
Cityalight manage to walk the line between the Getty-ish hymns style that my parents love, and a more contemporary feel that appeals to the younger generation too. This is a great EP, uplifting, strong vocals and a good mix of upbeat and thoughtful.
It covers a range of themes, such as confidence in our God, salvation through the cross, the trustworthy character of God, all meant to make us realise that everything we trust is held in place by God and what he has done, and not by our abilities or strength.
Lyrics and setting
Since it is an EP of 6 songs, let’s briefly look at each song one by one.
God is for us – This is an energetic song riffing on Romans 8:31 and 39, “What more can we say, if our God is for us, who can stand against us?”. In the context of Romans this verse comes as a real relief, after the truth of our natural condemnation has been hammered home in great detail, and this song achieves that feeling of relief too. I need not fear anything that can be thrown at me, darkness, condemnation, death, because God is for us and nothing can separate us.. It is a fast paced and encouraging, and a great song to remind us as a church together of the promises that hold us no matter what life looks like.
Yet not I but Christ in me – This was released as a single a couple of months ago, and is a strong song. It’s got a fairly predictable tune, easy to pick up and will keep any traditional hymn lovers in your church happy too. And more than that, it is so encouraging. Promise after promise that we have, to give us confidence in the God who holds us. Each verse begins with stating truths, and then then the second half begins with ‘to this I hold..’ which applies it to us, and then concludes with ‘yet not I, but Christ in me’ . Very helpfully structured.
Ancient of Days – I really like this one. It is thoughtful and clear, and while having a slow and simple verse, the chorus has a real hook that sticks in your head after one listen. It is all about how the Lord is bigger and overarching everything else in world, be it powers, or time, or space.
Jesus is Alive- This is another upbeat song, and would be a great one to think about introducing in some form for easter time. Covering themes of Jesus resurrection, and the power that was demonstrated there, and the hope that gives us. The resurrection is the event that ultimately breaks darkness and declares Jesus as King in Power. What great truths to sing!
The goodness of Jesus- This is gentle, thoughtful, and so encouraging. Jesus is Good even when life is hard. He offers peace and comfort and he does not leave. Amen to that.
I will trust my saviour Jesus – This is a simple, prayerful song to help us refocus our desire to trust only in Jesus. It is low in lyrical content, so it’s easy to think and pray through. It basically states how Jesus death and resurrection display him to be worth trusting in any of life’s situations.
Will this work at my church?
Yes to all, with some thoughts below.
God is for us – my feeling is that this would be a great song for youth or students, but also would work in normal church too, although perhaps tone the tempo down a little. The words maybe come a bit fast to take in otherwise.
Take your time in teaching it, the tune isn’t totally predictable (which is a good thing! It is interesting), and don’t drop the bridge- it’s a good one. And on the plus side, band wise it is very easy, only about 4 chords. The problem will be stopping the rhythm running away with enthusiasm!
Yet not I but Christ in me – The only bit that might take a little more teaching is the last two lines. We expect it to mirror the first two lines like many modern hymns do (with the standard AABA verse structure), this one goes AABC.
The Ancient of Days -Spend a bit of time teaching the chorus. And feel free to drop that chord at 4:12..
Jesus is Alive – Again I feel like this is more suited to youth and/students. Feel free obviously to make a decision based on your own church, but with a line ‘let there be dancing in the darkness’- I love the sentiment myself but I wonder if it might not sit as naturally to some older, more sedate church members.
Again I’d dip the tempo just a few BPM to make it easier to sing. And this bridge you could take or leave.. it’s fine but doesn’t add much.
The goodness of Jesus – This one on first listen sounds deceptively easy but it might be the one to slip up your churches more than you expect. It has a few unexpected melody jumps and syncopated rhythms that if you don’t teach clearly and slowly, your church will likely just sing whatever’s in their heads.
I will trust my Saviour Jesus – This perhaps lends itself more to a solo or at least a reflectional song. It’s got a few melodic elements to teach, so isn’t the easiest one to learn, and depending on the size of your church and the number of musicians you have, might lose momentum somewhat. It is however a beautiful personal prayer of faith and desire to trust more.