I’ve been a bit slack in writing new posts… So here we go:
We all have favorites. Favorite flavor of ice-cream, sports team, movie, place to eat, pair of shoes, song – whatever. The same is true when choosing music for worship, I have my favorites, the music team in The Journey has theirs, and I’m sure the congregation has their favorites. In fact I keep meticulous records so that I avoid a “favorites” rotation and keep a wide selection of music for worship. But here are my favorite five songs:
Come to the Cross by Michael W. Smith.
This is a great song written by Micheal W. Smith with Leeland & Matt Bronleewe. The lyrics are great, a wonderfully clear message of how “everyone can come to the cross.” We of course have dropped it to Bb and I lead from the piano so it takes on a slightly different flavor. But it is so much fun to play and you can truly feel the energy in the room lift. One senior member of the church tells me every time we play Come to the Cross that she wants me to play it at her funeral, I wonder if she is really serious? Here it is:
Refuge from the album Over The Grave: The Hymns Of Isaac Watts, Volume One This was a project of Sojourn Community Church and I love this song. I read an interview with the worship leader of this church and he stated that the songs on “Over the Grave” were all arrangements of Issac Watts hymns reinterpretetted by members of the congregation. How awesome is that?! The entire church is involved in the writing of new music. And I love how these great modern songs have root in the hymns of the past. Below is a little preview of the track, the only thing I could find with the actual recording:
Rock of Ages You Will Stand by Paul Baloche. This is one I found just sifting through Baloche’s catalog because I feel him to be a great composer of songs for worship. What struck my first was the reference to the old hymn, but then the melody during the verse plays with the major 7th of the scale – how awesome is that?! Who uses that in songs today for anything other than a passing tone to get back to tonic? But I must confess I was underwhelmed with the song and added a bridge, what I added was the hymn, sort of… I took the first verse then ended the bridge with a build and then ended into a key change for the chorus (which ends this time changing keys back to the original key, vocals the same but the changes are different). Below is a video of Baloche talking about how it was written. Really neat story.
A Baby Will Come by Bill Wolfe. This song I found in an issue of Worship Leader Magazine, a great resource for those leading contemporary worship or anyone interested in it. The song tells the story of the birth of Christ but in a decidedly modern fashion, almost what would the songs look like if Christ had been born today. There is no chorus, only verse. And the melody is very simple, but it is beautiful. But rather than being repetitive the song becomes meditative and reflective, ending with joy and peace. I really dig it and found it to be one of the most powerful songs we sang during Advent.
Healing Rain by Michael W. Smith. My wife loves Michael W. Smith, and I too have a lot of respect for him. This is a song off one of his later albums and I always enjoyed it during worship because it speaks to God’s love for all. We sang it worship soon after my wife discovered she had a brain tumor (feel free to check out her blog here). Now, my prayers are filled with cries to God for healing. The end of the songs’ coda uses the tag, “Healing Rain is coming down… I’m not afraid!” Those words were always powerful for me, but in that day they were what I needed to hear; and I really didn’t hear the words, the voices rang as shouts of Hallelujah.