On the surface..
The temptation is to be too gushing about this album, because it is quite possibly the best songs-for-church album I’ve heard in a long time. Strong melodies, awesome words, and a really well produced album.
It focusses on the ideas of endurance in hard times, dwelling on the promises we have as the people of God in a fallen world, and the character of the Lord which gives us the confidence to trust. It is filled with bible truth and reminders of things we need to hold on to in messy, difficult situation.
If you want an album to encourage you personally and those around you, this is the one this year. We so rarely listen to full albums these days with online streaming, but this is one where genuinely there are crackers the whole way through, not just the first few tracks.
Lyrics and setting.
One of the things worth noting before we go into any depth, is how congregational this album is. Most of the songs use the collective ‘we’ and ‘our’ and ‘us’, lifting our gaze away from just ourselves, and making them great to sing with our churches, as we join together in encouraging and reminding each other of what is true.
We could discuss most of the songs here, but for the sake of time, let’s focus on a few of the ones that jumped out at me.
All Praise to Him– This is a super song on the trinity, focussing on the praise due for what each part of the godhead has done. It is really helpful in focussing our thoughts onto how amazing God is, and how perfectly salvation was planned and carried out.
Each verse also zones in our view a little, from the God who in verse 1 created the whole world and universe in it’s vastness, to Jesus in verse 2 who came to earth for the sake of saving men, to the Spirit in verse 3 who lives in us and gives us strength to keep going. Awesome stuff.
Lord, have mercy – This is a song of confession and confidence in forgiveness. There aren’t a lot of songs of confession out there, and this is so helpful for us to stand up and remind ourselves of how much we need grace and mercy, and yet how willing the Lord is to forgive day after day for the sake of Jesus.
O God of Mercy, hear our plea – This is my favourite track on the album. It is the prayer of a christian in a groaning world, longing for the Lord to return. I think it is drawn from a few Psalms rather than one in particular, psalm 44 for instance, and psalms 130 and 13. The psalmist often had these emotions of looking around at the world in all its fallen-ness and wishing the Lord would fix it. This is our prayer too in the middle of pain and struggle.
We look to you – this was one I used for personal reflection recently. It covers similar themes to the one above, longing for God to get rid of pain and temptation and struggle, and is a prayer for God to return and complete the work he has begun.
Will this work in my church?
The average church could try most of these songs, though some of them do have sections that would require more teaching than others.
The ones maybe lending themselves to more personal/reflectional use than congregational would be When we see your face, Jesus there is none like you, Come Lord Jesus, Forgiven and We look to you.
The ones that definitely should be added to your ‘teach to church’ list soon would be All Praise to Him, O Lord my rock and my redeemer, O God of Mercy hear our Plea, and He is our God
Have a listen and see what you think!