Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

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Hymns Vol. 1 – Shane and Shane
****

Shane and Shane are a contemporary worship duo comprised of Shane Barnard and Shane Everett. I recently got to enjoy their music at the Sing 2018 conference in Nashville. Prior to that, what I knew about the duo was primarily through the ministry of Desiring God.

Hymns Vol. 1 is a new album featuring new arrangements of ten modern and traditional hymns, totaling in excess of 57 minutes of music.  This is an album that I thoroughly enjoyed. At first listen, it can appear like a simple and basic covering of these wonderful hymns. However, each repeated listening brings out something new about these extended arrangements, which are connected, with no breaks between the songs. The lead and harmony vocals are excellent throughout, as is the musical accompaniment, which never gets in the way of the words of these wonderful hymns. I can’t wait for Vol. 2.

Below are a few brief comments about each song:

Tis So Sweet – The lyrics to this hymn were written by Louisa M.R. Stead in 1882, and the music by William J. Kirkpatrick. This version, which clocks in just under seven minutes, features guitar, light percussion, and violin, and builds powerfully.

How Great Thou Art – This hymn, which is my favorite, was based on a poem written by Carl Boberg in 1885. It was translated into English by the missionary Stuart K. Hine, who also added two additional verses. The hymn was set to a Russian melody. The song features guitar, piano, drums and builds powerfully.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More of this review
  • A review of Paul McCartney’s Egypt Station
  • Music News
  • Music Quotes
  • Song of the Week Lyrics


Give Me Jesus – This hymn is an African American spiritual. I first became aware of this song through Fernando Ortega’s wonderful version. This beautiful version features acoustic guitar, piano, and some effective drum work.

Come Thou Found (Above All Else) – “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” was written in 1757 by pastor and hymn writer Robert Robinson at age 22. This version features acoustic guitar, piano and violin. It also includes a brief worship chorus “Above All Else”.

The Lord is My Salvation – This modern hymn was written by Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, Nathan Nockels and Jonas Myrin. This excellent version features some good drum work, guitar and piano.
Key lyric:
Who is like the Lord our God?
Strong to save, faithful in love
My debt is paid and the vict’ry won
The Lord is my salvation

Holy, Holy, Holy (We Bow Before Thee) – “Holy, Holy, Holy” was written by Reginald Heber in 1826. This hymn opens with acoustic guitar and light percussion. It builds with violin and includes the worship chorus “We Bow Before Thee”.

He Will Hold Me Fast – This hymn was written by Ada Habershonnew and Matt Merker. It’s one of my favorite “new” hymns. It features acoustic guitar, piano, light percussion and keys.
Key lyric:
For my life He bled and died
Christ will hold me fast
Justice has been satisfied
He will hold me fast
Raised with Him to endless life
He will hold me fast
Till our faith is turned to sight
When he comes at last

My Worth is Not in What I Own – This modern hymn was written by Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty and Graham Kendrick. This is another of my favorite new hymns. It features keys, guitar, violin and light drums.
Key lyric:
I rejoice in my Redeemer
Greatest Treasure,
Wellspring of my soul
I will trust in Him, no other.
My soul is satisfied in Him alone.

In Christ Alone – This modern hymn was written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. It’s one of our church’s favorites to sing in our worship service. This version features piano, acoustic guitar, drums, and violin, as it builds powerfully.
Key lyric:
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the pow’r of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand

There is a Fountain (Full of Love) – This hymn was written by William Cowper in 1772. This version features guitar, light percussion and violin. It also includes the worship chorus “Full of Love”.

Egypt Station – Paul McCartney
****

Egypt Station is the 76-year-old former Beatle’s 17th solo album and his first new album since 2013’s New. It is very good, at times brilliant, with only one major misstep. The album was produced by Greg Kurstin, with the exception of the album’s one misstep “Fuh You” which was produced by Ryan Tedder. McCartney stated that the album “Starts off at the station on the first song and then each song is like a different station. So, it gave us some idea to base all the songs around that. I think of it as a dream location that the music emanates from.”
Egypt Station was McCartney’s first U.S. number one album since 1982’s Tug of War, his eighth overall and his first to debut at number one.
Throughout, McCartney’s voice sounds great, the production is excellent and McCartney’s excellent long-term touring band joins him on several songs.  All songs were written by McCartney, with the exception of “Fuh You” which was co-written with Ryan Tedder. Themes range from politics, lust, bullying, contentment in marriage, etc.

Below are a few comments about each of the sixteen songs on the album:

Opening Station – This is an instrumental track that includes some background noise that reminds me of Sgt. Pepper and some choral vocals.

I Don’t Know – One song of the two-sided single released in June ahead of the album. The piano-driven song opens with piano and acoustic guitar and then adds bass, light drums and backing vocals. He asks What am I doing wrong, Now what’s the matter with me? I don’t know, I don’t know.

Come on to Me – This is the second song of the two-sided single released in advance of the album. The lyrics are almost embarrassing – Did you come on to me, will I come on to you? If you come on to me, will I come on to you? – but the music is catchy and this one will sound good on McCartney’s upcoming Freshen Up Tour.

Happy with You – In contrast to “Come on to Me” and “Fuh You”, this acoustic song finds him happy, and could be a song to his wife Nancy. The song is driven by acoustic guitar. He writes that he used to sit around and get stoned, now he’s happy and enjoying nature. The song includes some light backing vocals, strings and light percussion.

Who Cares – This guitar driven rocker about bullying could easily fit on 1974’s classic Band on the Run. It has a “Helen Wheels” or “Juniors Farm” feel, and features an excellent rock vocal from McCartney.
Key lyric:
Who cares what the idiots say
Who cares what the idiots do
Who cares about the pain in your heart?
Who cares about you?
I do
 

Fuh You – This song was the third song released prior to the album. It’s the one major misstep on the album. It was written by McCartney and Ryan Tedder and produced by Tedder and Zach Skelton. The song sounds great musically, but is embarrassing lyrically, as McCartney, who previously wrote “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” and “Hi, Hi, Hi”, leaves nothing to the imagination as to what he wants to do to the girl in this song.  This song gets immediately skipped for me.  Confidante – This is an acoustic guitar driven song. He sings to one who used to be his confidante, a true friend, who stood beside him as he fought, but he fell out of love with them and brought their romance to an end.

People Want Peace – Over the years, McCartney has revisited the subject of peace several times (“Pipes of Peace”, “Peace in the Neighborhood”, etc.). He opens this song by saying that he has something important to say and he’s not going to let anything get in his way. It’s a simple message that he knows we’ve heard before – that people want peace, a simple release from their suffering. The song features some good percussion, keys, hand-claps, backing vocals and a passionate vocal from McCartney.

Hand in Hand – This piano-driven song revisits his happiness in a relationship that he addressed in “Happy with You”. “We can make each other happy if we get it right”. The song features two cellists, a mid-song solo from a woodwind instrument, and light backing vocals. He wrote the song on his father’s old piano. As he wrote it he was imagining he and wife Nancy about to go through life hand in hand. It was written in the early stage of their relationship.
Key lyric:
Hand in hand
Walking through life
And making our plans

Dominoes – This song begins with acoustic guitar and builds with light drums, bass, electric guitar, backing vocals and some Sgt. Pepper-like sound effects.  McCartney has described the song as being a people song about how things are really all right, but they don’t always seem to be alright. He brings in the idea of dominoes in that one little action can have such a big effect on this huge line of dominoes. He states that even though the subject of the song goes through all this stuff, and all these dominoes fall over and life goes on and in fact in the end it’s okay. 

Back in Brazil – McCartney wrote this song in his hotel room in Brazil while on tour. It is ambitious musically with Latin rhythms, and a number of instruments, including keys, percussion, strings, clarinets, flute, etc. The song tells the imaginary story of two young Brazilian people.

Do It Now – “Do it Now” is an expression McCartney’s father used to say. McCartney has said that the song is an imaginary journey suggested by the fact that his father would have said, “Go on that journey now, don’t leave it till it’s too late”. The song begins with McCartney singing over keys. It builds, with bass, backing vocals, drums and strings.
Key lyric:
Do it now, do it now
While the vision is clear
Do it now
While the feeling is here
If you leave it too late
It could all disappear

Caesar Rock – McCartney has said that this slightly oddball track came when he and his engineer Steve Orchard were making stuff up in the studio. The song is a fun musical jam, with drum machine, piano, backing vocals, guitar, but is basically a throwaway track lyrically.

Despite Repeated Warnings – McCartney, who supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has stated that this song is about President Donald Trump and other politicians who believe that climate change is a hoax. He has said that the song is similar to “Band on The Run” or “Live and Let Die” in that it is kind of episodic and of an epic production. His intent is to try to remind people that climate change is not a hoax, and that we should avoid having a mad captain (Trump) steering us towards the icebergs. It is one of the more interesting songs musically on the album.

Station II – Similar to “Opening Station”, this is a brief instrumental track.

Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link – This is a closing suite, not unlike the famous one that closes out side two of the Beatles’ Abbey Road. “Hunt You Down” opens with some great guitar, horns, drums, a rock vocal and backing vocals. “Naked” slows things down. He sings that he’s been naked since he was born and broken in so many places.
Key lyric:
Save my soul and set it free
Free to fly home
There’s a place I’m meant to be
Back, back home
 

“C-Link” is a closing instrumental rock track featuring a good guitar solo.

  • Drive All Night. Check out this video from NEEDTOBREATHE for “Drive All Night” from their forthcoming Acoustic Live
  • Check out the lyric video for “Tuyo” by the Social Club Misfits, featuring Danny Gokey and Jordin Sparks.
  • He Will Hold Me Fast. David Mathis writes “Not only will God keep his people, but he delights to do so. Not only does he hold us fast, but he does so with great joy. And there is no safer place to be in the universe than hidden with Jesus in the heart of God’s delight.” Listen to Shane and Shane’s new version of “He Will Hold Me Fast”.
  • New Toby Mac Album. Toby Mac will release his seventh album The Elements on October 12.
  • Over the Hill. Check out the video for “Over the Hill” from John Hiatt.
  • Because He Lives. Matt Maher performs “Because He Lives”, live from the factory floor at Steinway & Sons in Astoria, Queens, New York.
  • Paul McCartney on 60 Minutes. Sharyn Alfonsi interviews Paul McCartney on the September 30 60 Minutes.
  • When We All Get to Heaven. Watch this live performance of Matt Redman performing his song “When We All Get to Heaven”.
  • New Van Morrison Album. Van Morrison will release The Prophet Speaks his 40th studio album and fourth in the past two years, on December 7. Morrison will include six new originals alongside his reinterpretations of classics. Sam Cooke’s “Laughin’ and Clownin’,” John Lee Hooker’s “Dimples,” Solomon Burke’s “Gotta Get You Off My Mind” and Willie Dixon’s “I Love the Life I Live” are among the eight songs he covers. Listen to the title song here.
  • New Russ Taff Album. Russ Taff returns with Believe, his first new album in seven years, on November 2. Guest artists include Crowder and Amy Grant.
  • One-on-One with Keith Getty on the Sing! Conference and the Importance of Song, Part 1. Ed Stetzer interviews Keith Getty about the recent Sing! 2018 conference, a conference my wife and I attended in Nashville.
  • 9 Things You Should Know About Christian Hymns. Joe Carter shares nine things you should know about one of the most important musical forms in the history of the church.

  • It’s important that we do not let our creativity get in the way of the singing in our churches. H.B. Charles
  • Preaching on the practice of singing is critical. Matt Boswell
  • The congregation will not sing above their pastor. They will come to the level of the pulpit, and there they will stop. It is critical as a pastor, not just that I walk in and preach, but that I begin the service with a prayer as a priest. John MacArthur
  • How the pastor participates in the singing of worship with the congregation during the sermon is vital. H.B. Charles
  • You have sung more psalms than you know, but it’s helpful to know that you’re singing them. Ligon Duncan
  • Whoever is in the pulpit is the worship leader. John MacArthur

 Is He Worthy by Chris Tomlin

Andrew Peterson’s song “Is He Worthy” (written with Ben Shive) is my top song of 2018. My favorite version of the song was Peterson singing with a 300-voice choir at the recent Sing! conference in Nashville. I hope that version makes the conference live album to come out next month.

I was surprised that Chris Tomlin was covering it for his new album Holy Roar.  Though I prefer Peterson’s version, Tomlin does a good job with the song. Listen to it here.

Do you feel the world is broken?
(We do)
Do you feel the shadows deepen?
(We do)
But do you know that all the dark won’t stop the light from getting through?
(We do)
Do you wish that you could see it all made new?
(We do)

Is all creation groaning?
(It is)
Is a new creation coming?
(It is)
Is the glory of the Lord to be the light within our midst?
(It is)
Is it good that we remind ourselves of this?
(It is)

Is anyone worthy?
Is anyone whole?
Is anyone able to break the seal and open the scroll?
The Lion of Judah who conquered the grave
He is David’s root and the Lamb who died to ransom the slave

Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
Of all blessing and honor and glory
Is He worthy of this?
He is

Does the Father truly love us?
(He does)
Does the Spirit move among us?
(He does)
And does Jesus, our Messiah hold forever those He loves?
(He does)
Does our God intend to dwell again with us?
(He does)

Is anyone worthy?
Is anyone whole?
Is anyone able to break the seal and open the scroll?
The Lion of Judah who conquered the grave
He is David’s root and the Lamb who died to ransom the slave
From every people and tribe
Every nation and tongue
He has made us a kingdom and priests to God
To reign with the Son

Is He worthy?Is He worthy?
Of all blessing and honor and glory
Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
Is He worthy of this?
He is!
Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
He is!
He is!

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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence ~ married to my best friend for more than 38 years and a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Before retiring I served as a manager at a Fortune 50 company; I'm a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary and in leadership at my local church. I enjoy speaking about calling, vocation and work. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinders themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony and Achiever, and my two StandOut strengths roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book and 2 Corinthians 5:21 my favorite verse. Some of my other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, The Prodigal Son (originally titled A Tale of Two Sons) by John MacArthur and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I enjoy Christian hip-hop/rap music, with Lecrae, Trip Lee and Andy Mineo being some of favorite artists.

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