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Holy Roar by Chris Tomlin

This is Chris Tomlin’s first album since 2016’s excellent Never Lose Sight, which was my top album of that year. Holy Roar is another gift to the church from Tomlin, containing songs that will be sung in churches around the world.
Below are a few comments about each of the songs:

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  • More of this review; The Elements by Toby Mac and Happy Xmas by Eric Clapton
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  • Song of the Week Lyrics

Holy Roar – This song is written by Jason Ingram and Tomlin, and produced by Bryan Fowler. The song begins with keys and guitar and then builds with full band and backing vocals. This is a worship song to lift God up, to sing Him a song of love, to give God worship, which He is worthy of, a holy roar reaching for Heaven.

Nobody Loves Me Like You – This was the second single released ahead of the album. It was written by Scott Cash and Ed Cash. It begins quietly with soft guitar and then builds with piano, drums, backing vocals and a joyous chorus about the love of Jesus.
Key lyric:
Nobody loves me like You love me, Jesus
I stand in awe of Your amazing ways
I worship You as long as I am breathing
God, You are faithful and true
Nobody loves me like You

Resurrection Power – The first single from the album released way back in January was written by Ed Cash, Ryan Ellis and Tony Brown. This joyful song opens with Tomlin singing over keys, and it then builds with drums, bass, guitars and backing vocals.
Key lyric:
Jesus, You have given us freedom
I’m no longer bound by sin and darkness
Living in the light of Your goodness
You have given us freedom

Goodness, Love and Mercy – This song is written by Ed Cash, NEEDTOBREATHE’s Bo Rinehart and Bear Rinehart and Tomlin. The mid-tempo song opens with acoustic guitar and gently builds, featuring some good piano, guitar and backing vocals. It is a worship song based on Psalm 23.
Key lyric:
Surely goodness, love and mercy
Will follow wherever I go

Satisfied – This song is written by Jason Ingram, Ross Copperman and Tomlin. Driven by an excellent drum beat, and hand claps, this upbeat and joyful song will sound great on the radio and in concert. Tomlin sings that as he counts his blessings he couldn’t ask for more. In God he is satisfied. Nothing and no one else will ever satisfy.
Key lyric:
I count my blessings one by one
Your goodness in my life
How could I ask for more
In You, I’m satisfied

Impact – This song is written by Mitch Wong, Tommy Sjostrom and Tomlin. The worship song begins with piano and strings. It gently builds, as Tomlin sings of waiting, surrender and laying down his defenses, to a powerful bridge in which he sings of love like a mighty river and rushing wind.
Key lyric:
As I worship in surrender
I feel heaven drawing closer
As I lay down my defenses
Your love invades
And I brace for the impact

Praise Him Forever – This song has a driving beat from the beginning. It is a joyful worship song that sounds like the best of Tomlin’s worship songs. Let everything that breathes, let all the earth proclaim great is the Lord our God. The song ends with another reference to the album’s title, Hear the holy roar, praise Him forever. A highlight.

Is He Worthy? – This wonderful song based on Revelation 5 was written by Andrew Peterson and Ben Shive, and was originally recorded by Peterson for his Resurrection Letters, Vol 1 album.  The song opens with Tomlin singing over piano and light guitar and it gradually builds to a powerful ending. It features excellent choir vocals.
Key lyric:
Is He worthy? Is He worthy?
Of all blessing and honor and glory
Is He worthy of this?
He is

Forever Young – This is not a cover of the Bob Dylan song with the same title. The song begins with keys and guitar and gently builds. He is born again, saved by loved. In God’s presence he is forever young. With his final presence he’ll praise the Lord.

I Stand In Awe – This beautiful worship song features Nicole Serrano on lead vocals, with Tomlin offering some light backing vocals. When we consider all that God has done, we can do nothing but stand in awe. The song begins with Serrano singing over piano and the song builds gently. All glory, all honor, all worship and all praise, all blessing and all power is His.

Praise Is The Highway – This mid-tempo worship song is written by Tomlin, Hillsong’s Ben Fielding, Bethel’s Brian Johnson and Sean Feucht. The song begins with guitar and drums and builds gently. He is our God, He will be praised. Revival will come and the church will awake. He forever reigns. Sing like thunder His praises loud.
Key lyric:
Praise is the highway to the throne of God
Praise is the highway to the heart of God
Praise is the highway to the move of God

How Sweet It Is – The closing song is written by Tomlin, Pat Barrett, Hank Bentley and Jessie Early. This is a slower praise song, which features vocals from Pat Barrett, who co-wrote “Good Good Father”, which Tomlin recorded for his previous album. The song begins with acoustic guitar and keys. Nothing else in history compares with what God has done for us. How sweet it is to be loved by Jesus.

The Elements by Toby Mac

The Elements is Toby Mac’s seventh solo album and first since 2015’s excellent This is Not a Test. The album was preceded by the release of four songs, including the chart-topping “I Just Need U”.
This is a mature work dealing with many themes, including family, God being our only hope, seeing God in everything, race relations, new opportunities, new mercies, the church and encouragement. Most of the songs are upbeat musically, containing a good groove. It’s one of the best releases of 2018.
Below are a few brief comments on each song:

The Elements – This song was written and produced by Tommee Profitt (NF) and Toby. This was the fourth song released prior to release of the album.
The song begins with Toby singing over keys. This world is trying to steal his heart and rip his family apart. Vocally and musically the song hits it hard in the chorus and he sings that he will be doing down swinging, if he goes down at all.  The bridge is a prayer to God. He’s willing to fight the elements.
Key lyric: I might bend but I won’t break

I just need U – This song was written by Bryan Fowler, Blake NeeSmith and Toby and produced by Fowler and Toby. It was the first single released from the album and topped the Christian music charts for an incredible 12 weeks. The song starts with keys, bass and light backing vocals. The song really takes off with the chorus and the memorable beat will stay in your head long after the song is over. The song includes a few lines from Psalm 23.
Key lyric: ‘Cause all I know, all I know is You’re my only hope
Scars – This song was written by and produced by Bryan Fowler, Cole Walowac and Toby and was produced by Fowler and Walowac. It was the third song released in advance of the album. Toby wrote the song for his 20-year-old son Truett about what life was throwing at him. The song is a bit more laid back though it builds powerfully towards the end. This is a touching song from a father to a son, encouraging him. He tells him that when life cuts so deep try and remember that you’re not alone. We’ve all been there and scars come with living. Lift your head to where your help comes from. The song features some light backing vocals.
Key lyric: It doesn’t matter who you are, this world gonna leave some battle scars

Everything – This was the second single released from the album. It was written produced by David Garcia and Toby. The song has an instantly likeable groove that will stick in your head.
Key lyric: I see You in everything, all day, and every beat of my heart keeps reminding me

Starts With Me – This song was written by Dave Lubben, Cole Walowac, Aaron Cole and Toby. It was produced by Lubben and Walowac and features 19-year-old Christian hip-hop artist Aaron Cole on vocals. The song addresses race relations from both perspectives. They sing about the homes they were raised in and what was passed down to them from generation to generation. The song has a good beat and includes some samples from a Martin Luther King Jr. speech.
Key lyric: With a history that’s filled with hate, have we ever been united states?

Edge Of My Seat – This is an upbeat song both musically and lyrically. It has a great dance beat, driven by drum, and features some backing vocals. The Lord is opening up his eyes to new opportunities. The song quotes Isaiah 43:19, Behold, I am doing a new thing in the land.
Key lyric: Ain’t no one ever gonna steal the mystery You put right in front of me
It’s You – This song slows down the pace a bit. The song is about the Lord. Life doesn’t make sense without Him. The song features some backing vocals, keys and percussion.
Key lyric: It’s You, then everything else just falls in line

Horizon (A New Day) – This is an upbeat song about the body of Christ, the church. He references 1 Corinthians 12, that the church, the body, the family has different parts but is one and the same. The song opens with keys and has a good driving beat. A new day is on the horizon and nothing is going to stand in the way of the church.

Hello Future – On this song, Toby sings of nothing sweeter than welcoming new mercies every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Over a good beat, he sings of going through a difficult time but now the troubles have washed away and he’s home again. The future is going to be OK.

Overflow – This joyful song, features a good beat and some horns. When he’s running empty, the Lord fills up his cup till it overflows.
Key lyric: You are the sweetest love, sweetest love that I’ve ever known

See The Light – In this song Toby is encouraging to those who are going through a hard season of life. Life is hard, there are doubts, uphill climbs and battles. But just hang on a little longer, burdens will fade. He points us to Psalm 121, where we see that our help comes from the LORD. The song has a good beat, and will be a particularly encouraging song in concert, with many hands held high.
Key lyric: You got more than you on your side

Happy Xmas by Eric Clapton

The 73-year-old legendary guitarist Eric Clapton is the only three-time inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – as a member of the Yardbirds, Cream, and as a solo artist. Happy Xmas is Clapton’s first Christmas album, and he did the artwork for the album cover. The fourteen songs are a mix of standards, lesser known holiday songs and one new Clapton-written song “For Love on Christmas Day.” This is Clapton’s 24th studio album, and first since 2016’s I Still Do, which some speculated might be his final album. Clapton completed the album over a four-year period, and produced the album with Simon Climie. About the album, he said “I had in my head that these holiday songs could be done with a slight blues tinge, and I started to figure out how to play the blues lines in between the vocals. I got it down and one of the most identifiable songs on the album, the one that became the foundational style, is ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’.”
I really enjoyed this album, which has only one major misstep, the electronic dance music (EDM) “Jingle Bells”, which is a tribute to the late DJ and producer Avicii, and doesn’t fit with the rest of the album.

Below are a few comments about each song on the album:
White Christmas – Clapton opens this Christmas standard from Irving Berlin with some blues guitar and then settles back in, accompanied by backing vocals, strings and a great guitar solo. A strong start to the album.

Away In A Manger (Once In Royal David’s City) – Clapton slows the pace down and delivers a good vocal on this traditional Christmas carol dating back to the late 19th century. It features some nice backing vocals, organ and acoustic guitar. 

For Love On Christmas Day – This is a new song written by Clapton. It’s a sad song about wishing for a lost love to return. It features keys, acoustic guitar and strings. He’s living in a dream world and dying a little more each day. There is snow on the sidewalk but it’s cold inside his heart.

Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday – This 1967 song was written by William Bell and Booker T. Jones. The song features blues guitar, keys, organ and backing vocals.

Christmas Tears
– This song was written by Robert Wilson and Sonny Thompson and recorded by Freddie King in 1961. Clapton delivers a blues vocal with some excellent guitar, including a solo, backed by drum, bass, piano and female vocals. A highlight.

Home For The Holidays – This song was written by Anthony Hamilton. He’ll be home for the holidays, was thinking he’d stay away but can’t wait to see her smiling face. The song has an easy going pace, featuring acoustic and light electric guitar, piano, organ and backing vocals.

Jingle Bells
– This is the album’s one major misstep. It is a six-minute electronic dance music mostly instrumental almost unrecognizable cover of James Pierpont’s Christmas classic. The song is dedicated to Avicii, who died of a suicide earlier in the year. Clapton’s guitar joins with the electronic music in a song that doesn’t fit with the rest of the album. Skip this song.

Christmas In My Hometown – This song was written by Sonny James and John Skye. The song has a laid-back country feel, featuring piano, guitar, soft percussion and female backing vocals. He’d love to spend this Christmas with the folks in his hometown.

It’s Christmas – This song was written by Anthony Hamilton. The song is upbeat, featuring guitar, keys, drums and backing vocals. It feels just like Christmas, love is in the air and everybody’s heading home.

Sentimental Moments – This song was written by Frederick Hollander and was featured in the 1955 film We’re No Angels. It has a slower pace, and features piano, and some nice acoustic guitar, though it’s not really a Christmas song.

Lonesome Christmas – This song was written by Lloyd Glenn. The song has a great blues beat, led by guitar, piano and drums. The song is highlighted by a guitar solo. A highlight.

Silent Night – This Christmas classic was written by Joseph Mohr. This version has a good pace as Clapton sings over drums, organ, light guitar and backing vocals.

Merry Christmas Baby – This song was written by Lou Baxter and John Dudley Moore. This song is a slow blues, with piano, bass and some excellent blues guitar. A highlight.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – This song was written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane. This is a slow jazz version, with a Clapton’s vocal over piano, strings, acoustic guitar and percussion.

  • Is He Worthy? Watch the acoustic performance by Chris Tomlin, Andrew Peterson and Ben Shive, hear the story behind the song, and learn how to play “Is He Worthy?” written by Peterson and Shive.
  • “Native Tongue” is the first single and title song from Switchfoot’s upcoming album. Watch the new video.
  • Matt Maher Christmas Album. Matt Maher has released his first Christmas album, The Advent of Christmas.
  • When the Downcast Can’t Reach Our Hymns. Keith Getty writes “The bottom line is that songs of lament are simply more difficult to “get into” because most of our songs in the modern age are written on a positive, sometimes even superficial level. A lament, on the other hand, takes us down a journey that cannot remain in the shallows because it is delves deeper into those parts of life that we wish we never had to face … yet everyone single one of us do.”
  • National Anthem. One of our favorites, James Taylor sang the National Anthem at Fenway Park before game one of the World Series.
  • Sing the Psalms. In this interview, the video of which was shown at the Sing! 2018 Conference, Keith Getty interviews Tim Keller about how to incorporate psalms into corporate worship as well as family worship, counseling, and personal prayer.
  • Lauren Daigle on Ellen. Lauren Daigle recently appeared on The Ellen Show to perform “Still Rolling Stones” from her chart-topping album Look Up Child.
  • Red Letters. Watch the new video for Crowder’s song “Red Letters”.
  • Holy Roar. Check out this acoustic version of the title song from Chris Tomlin’s new album Holy Roar.

  • Every time you sing, you are expressing something about what kind of church you want to be, and what kind of church member you are going to be. Keith Getty
  • It is an incredible thing that we, the created ones, have been given a way to communicate with the One who made us. We sing knowing that our Lord’s ears are open and listening as we lift our voices to Him. Keith Getty
  • The words we sing should include thoughts that stir us to action and challenge us with the call of Christ in our lives. Keith Getty
  • There are ultimately no neutral lyrics. All songs share a message about how we should view the world. Keith Getty
  • Ensure that your church’s song list includes hymns and songs that touch on all the major
    doctrines and seasons of life, just as the Psalms and historical hymnals do. Keith Getty

    Hope for Everyone by Matt Maher

This week’s song of the week is Matt Maher’s “Hope for Everyone” from his new Christmas album The Advent of Christmas. Listen to the song here.

Hear the angels sing
There’s hope for everyone
To announce our King
There’s hope for everyone
What good news they bring
There’s hope for everyone
Angels sing there’s hope for everyone

They came from afar
There’s hope for everyone
Wise men saw the star
There’s hope for everyone
Shepherds heard the choir
There’s hope for everyone
From afar there’s hope for everyone

We are waiting on the promise
For the One who lights the darkness
Bending low to be among us
Bring your glory in the highest Jesus

Come let us adore
There’s hope for everyone
On the manger floor
There’s hope for everyone
What are you waitin’ for
There’s hope for everyone
Come adore there’s hope for everyone

We are waiting on the promise
For the One
Who lights the darkness
Bending low to be among us
Bring your glory in the highest Jesus

Coming on the clouds
There’s hope for everyone
Hear the trumpet sound
There’s hope for everyone
All of Heaven shouts
There’s hope for everyone
On the clouds
There’s hope for everyone

We are waiting on the promise
For the One
Who lights the darkness
Bending low to be among us
Bring your glory in the highest Jesus

All of Heaven shouts
There’s hope for everyone
Heaven shouts there’s hope for everyone

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.

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