Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


Leave a comment

Music Review:
Abide with Me – Sara Groves


Sara Groves follows her acclaimed 2015 album Floodplain with her thirteenth studio album. She has stated that her previous album found her on the floodplain reflecting on the kind provision that comes when she finds herself in a place where she cannot rescue herself. Abide with Me is a collection of hymns and songs that were with her on the floodplain. The album was recorded in a 105-year old church (the construction of which is shown on the album cover photo), that the Groves purchased in 2011 and converted into Art House North, a creative community for the common good, in the West End of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Groves has stated that it was appropriate that the album was recorded in a space built for congregational singing. The album was recorded with her long-time bandmates, Aaron Fabbrini (bass, pedal steel) and Zach Miller (drums), produced by John Mark Nelson and mixed by Ben Gowell. The album includes songs carefully selected from Groves’ personal list of hymns. Each song has provided a source of healing and comfort to her throughout the years. Groves’ husband first came up with the idea of a hymns album about fifteen years ago and has been compiling possible songs for inclusion since then.

The album is recorded simply and sparsely and may underwhelm on initial listen. However, I encourage you to give these hymns additional listens and the project will grow on you with each listen. I would also recommend you have the lyrics to these hymns in front of you as you listen to this beautiful recording.

Below are a few comments about each of the eleven songs:

For the Beauty of the Earth – This Eucharistic hymn was written in 1864 by Folliott S. Pierpoint. It begins beautifully with woodwinds, then Groves’ vocal and then piano is added. Many will be familiar with the chorus:
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise

Fairest Lord Jesus – This hymn, also known as “Beautiful Savior”, has a long and unconfirmed history. The lyrics we are familiar with are most likely from an 1873 translation by Joseph A. Seiss. The song begins with acoustic guitar. Groves’ vocal is then joined with light drums, pedal steel guitar and backing vocals. Key lyric:
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heaven can boast

Praise to the Lord – The lyrics to this hymn were written in German by Joachim Neander in 1680. Catherine Winkworth translated them into English in 1863. This was my favorite hymn growing up. This version features a choir providing backing vocals.

Abide with Me – This hymn was written by Scottish Anglican Henry Francis Lyte in 1847 as he was dying from tuberculosis. He would die just three weeks after its completion. It is most often sung to English composer William Henry Monk’s tune “Eventide”. This version features piano, banjo, pedal steel guitar and backing vocals. Key lyric: In life and death, Lord, abide with me 

The Love of God – This hymn was written by Frederick M. Lehman in 1917, based on a Jewish poem titled Haddamut. This song starts with Groves accompanied by acoustic guitar and light backing vocals. As the song moves to verse two, she is joined by piano, bass and then a choir. Key lyric:
O love of God, how rich and pure
How measureless and strong

The Song of Blessing – Groves sings this short song with a choir, backed by acoustic guitar, piano and banjo.

What a Friend – This song has Groves singing to her redeemer about what a friend he is over piano, acoustic guitar and light backing vocals. Key lyric:
Nearer, draw nearer
Till my soul is lost in You

To the Dawn – This beautiful song is based on Henry Burton’s 19th century poem “There’s a Light Upon the Mountains” with a refrain based on Isaiah 9:2. “All who walk in the dark have seen a great light”. The song begins with piano and strings. then guitar, percussion, pedal steel guitar and backing vocals are added.

Tis So Sweet – The lyrics to the hymn “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” were written by Louisa M.R. Stead in 1882. The music was written by William J. Kirkpatrick. This version begins with some likeable percussion, and then adds acoustic guitar, backing harmonies and a good mandolin solo. A highlight.

Lead on O King Eternal – This hymn was written Ernest Shurtleff upon request of his classmates for their graduation ceremony at Andover Seminary in 1887. The song begins with piano, with backing vocals and light drums added.

He’s Always Been Faithful – This song originally appeared on Groves’ 2001 debut album Conversations. The song incorporates the hymn “Great Is Your Faithfulness”, the lyrics of which were written by Thomas Chisholm in 1923, and the music composed by William Runyan that same year. The song features piano, upright bass and woodwinds. Groves estimates that she has played the song in concert well over a thousand times. A highlight.

  • Michael W. Smith to Release First Children Album and Book. Michael W. Smith will be launching Nurturing Steps, a new infant and toddler series with a simple mission to provide parents and grandparents with music and books to enliven a young child’s journey with hope and faith through song and storytelling. The first new album, Lullaby, and book, Nighty Night and Good Night, from Nurturing Steps release May 4 and May 8 through The Fuel Musicand Zonderkidz
  • There is a Fountain. We recently sang this hymn by William Cowper at our church. Cowper was a complicated figure, suffering from depression and attempting to take his life on more than one occasion. But he did leave us with this wonderful hymn. Listen to this version by MercyMe.
  • Is God’s Love Reckless? Mike Leake writes “But what I really want to convey is that God’s love really is so unfathomable, so contrary to the way that we think, that it causes us to at times use words which might not be the most polished—words like reckless. And God’s love really does chase us down like it says in the song. Don’t strain out gnats. But be blown away that God’s love is actually a million times better than reckless. It’s purposeful. It’s intentional. It’s relentless.”
  • Jon Troast. Jon Troast is a singer/songwriter who has been performing nearly a thousand “living room concerts” over the past ten years. I recently enjoyed one of these concerts by this talented, humble and transparent artist. The newly married artist opened with a love song “The Most”. “My Savior’s Arms” is a beautiful song he wrote a week before his brother died a few years ago.
  • War Cry. Check out this new video for the excellent song “War Cry” by Social Club Misfits featuring Tauren Wells.
  • Reverence Over Cool. “Some believe Christians are on the wrong side of history on any number of fronts, and that we don’t quite “get” the cultural moment in which we live. Yet throughout Church history, the pursuit to honor God, seek righteousness, walk justly and love mercy has rooted faith no matter where the trend lines point. What might reverence look like in a society when respecting anything too much seems out of touch?” Watch this message from Trip Lee.
  • No Chains. Watch the new video for “No Chains” by KB.
  • Global Hymn Sing 2018. The 2018 Global Hymn Sing featured over 1 million people singing “Jesus Shall Reign” … 5,020 churches, 77 countries and 32 languages! This compilation video is created from submissions from many of the churches who participated.
  • Going Gold. Congratulations to Lecrae (“I’ll Find You” featuring Tori Kelly) and Andy Mineo (“You Can’t Stop Me”) for songs that recently went gold (sold 500,000 units).

  • In worship, the focus is not on ourselves and our circumstances but on the One who is above. Chris Tomlin
  • Worship, unlike any other act, reminds us of who God is—the One who was and is and is to come. Chris Tomlin
  • Jesus was willing to risk being associated with darkness to bring light. Lecrae
  • Congregational singing is a holy act, and as I organize my thoughts, I hear my old pastor, Alistair Begg, reminding me that in our song worship, we have to be spiritually alive (dead people don’t sing), spiritually assisted (through the enabling of the Holy Spirit), and spiritually active (committed to daily walking with the Lord). Keith Getty

You Can’t Stop Me remix – Andy Mineo featuring Messiah

Andy Mineo’s song “You Can’t Stop Me” recently went gold (sold 500,000 units).  To recognize this achievement, he released a new remix of the song, featuring Messiah. You can listen to it here.  I prefer the original version of the song, which you can listen to in the original video.

[Hook: Marty of Social Club]
You can’t stop me

[Verse 1: Andy Mineo]
Huh, can’t stop won’t stop, where the brakes at?
I give ’em that bee bop, like take that, take that, take that, take that
I’mma put in work, I’mma do that asap
Throw my faith in rap, but they say don’t say that huh?
What I’mma turn down for, I feel like Shaq in nine four
Breaking glass in that backboard, or like Kobe in Toronto, huh?
Dropping 81, Yo I drop the 88, Ricky Bobby, shake and bake
Sleeping on us should have stayed awake, huh?
Everybody make mistakes like Vijay trying to say my name
It’s Mineo, say it with me, Mineo – Okay great
Two forks high, raise the stakes, risk it all, I take the hate
It’s the winning team, get the Gatorade
My God good, but he’s not safe, nah

[Hook: Andy Mineo and Marty of Social Club]
They try to shut us down, and it ain’t gon’ slide
Only thing I fear is God and he on my side
That’s the confidence of God, cause he got me
That’s why I really feel like

You can’t stop me
That’s all you got? Come on with it
That’s all you got?
You can’t stop me

(You) don’t got the power, (can’t) shut me down
(Stop), that’s not an option, I’m my biggest problem
(You) don’t got the power, (can’t) shut me down
(Stop), that’s not an option
You can’t stop me

[Verse 2: Andy Mineo]
You’re my biggest opponent, you know me I know you we know it
Whenever I fail, you’ve always been there to simply remind me I’ve blown it
You don’t see when I’m growing, you don’t see where I’m going
You only see in the moment, you know my mistakes you never let go it
Huh, don’t cease to amaze me, and it drive me crazy, huh
That you catch every detail that I miss in the songs I’m making, saying
You will never write a verse like Kendrick
Never be the rap or rock God from Hendrix
Top 10 alive you will never be mentioned
Why aim so high, won’t survive the trenches
Plus, you a Christian Andy, they will never listen Andy
Plus, well your pigment Andy, huh, you don’t got skill you a gimmick Andy
Well, if I listen to you, and everything you put in my ear
I’ll be living like woulda, shoulda, coulda, I’ll be paralyzed by fear
Huh, ain’t that the truth, if I quit the only way I lose
I got two choices when I do this – make moves or make excuses
Huh, if you know who I’m talking about, then you got me
My biggest enemy is me – and even I can’t stop me

[Hook: Andy Mineo and Marty of Social Club]
They try to shut us down, and it ain’t gon’ slide
Only thing I fear is God and he on my side
That’s the confidence of God, cause he got me
That’s why I really feel like

[Bridge: Andy Mineo]
I said if I cannot stop me then you’ll never stop me
Oh no, can’t stop, oh no, won’t stop

[Hook: Andy Mineo and Marty of Social Club]
They try to shut us down, and it ain’t gon’ slide
Only thing I fear is God and he on my side
That’s the confidence of God, cause he got me
That’s why I really feel like

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

Leave a Reply