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Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Music Reviews
Hard Cuts: Songs from the H A R D L O V E Sessions (EP) – NEEDTOBREATHE
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NEEDTOBREATHE has stated that one of the hardest parts about finishing their chart-topping 2016 album H A R D L O V E was determining which songs had to be cut to get down to the twelve songs for the album. This new EP contains six songs, two of them alternate versions of “Hard Love”, along with four songs that were cut from the original album.
The EP contains two new versions of “Hard Love”, one featuring Serena Ryder and one featuring Andra Day. Along with the version featuring Lauren Daigle from The Shack: Music From and Inspired By, this makes three versions of the song released since the album was released last year, which seems to be a bit of an overkill.
Below are brief comments on the other four songs:
Waiting – This song was produced by Dave Tozer and NEEDTOBREATHE, and written by Bear and Bo Rinehart. It is a keyboard driven song with a strong drum beat, backing vocals and a good guitar solo. He is haunted by a woman, who keeps him waiting, shaking, trembling, and chasing mistakes that he made. It’s my least favorite of the new songs.
Count on Me – This song was produced by Dave Tozer and NEEDTOBREATHE, and written by Tozer, Bear and Bo Rinehart. This song features a strong drum beat, keys and some backing vocals. Thematically it is similar to “Brother” from their excellent Rivers in the Wasteland album. It features encouraging lyrics.
Everybody needs a pick me up
You can count on me
 
Walking on Water – The last two songs of the four new ones were my favorites, starting with “Walking on Water”. This song will appeal to the band’s Christian fan base as it will remind them of Peter walking on the water to Jesus in Matthew 14. It starts slowly and then builds powerfully and joyfully on the chorus with a with a strong drum beat and backing vocals. There’s no turning back.
Can’t see nothing at all
But Your outstretched arms
Help me believe it
Though I falter
You got me walking on water

Cages – This song was produced by Ed Cash and NEEDTOBREATHE and written by Bear and Bo Rinehart. It’s another song that the band’s Christian fan base will resonate with. It starts as a piano-driven song, with light drums. He was looking for attention, was needing redemption but all he got was cages. It then builds powerfully with drums and guitar. They reference their 2009 album The Outsiders, stating that they’re a band of outsiders.
I’m in a prison for a man gone wrong
But I’ve found a future, this is not my home     
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Music Review: Glory to the Holy One: Sacred Music for the People of God – Jeff Lippencott and R.C. Sproul

Glory to the Holy OneGlory to the Holy One: Sacred Music for the People of God – Jeff Lippencott and R.C. Sproul
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This is an exciting new sacred hymns project for the church from theologian R.C. Sproul and award-winning composer Jeff Lippencott (to find out more about Jeff to go to http://www.scphilharmonic.org/aboutjeff.html).

The music was premiered at Saint Andrews Chapel in Sanford, Florida, where Dr. Sproul serves as Co-Pastor, the night before the 2015 Ligonier National Conference. In addition, four songs were performed in a mini-concert on Friday evening at the conference.

For the most part, Dr. Sproul wrote the lyrics to the hymns and Jeff Lippencott wrote the music. Lippencott also arranged, orchestrated and conducted the music, as well as producing the album (and did not take any compensation for his work; when hearing him speak about it, it was clear that it was a labor of love). Dr. Sproul writes in the liner notes: “I have poured a lifetime of biblical study and reflection into this theologically rich music in order to encourage and equip the church”. The project was recorded during 2014 in Washington, Arizona, Saint Andrews Chapel, Canterbury, U.K. and the famous Abbey Road Studios in London. Below are a few comments about the project:

1517 is a spoken word piece by Dr. Sproul about Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. He ends with:

“In every generation the gospel must be published anew with the same boldness, and the same clarity, and the same urgency that came forth in the 16th century Reformation. The church has always done this in both the spoken word and in song – producing hymns that tell us of the great salvation that has been wrought by God alone through Christ alone. These hymns that you hear today are sacred music for the church giving glory to the Holy One”.

Glory to the Holy One
“Holy, Holy, Holy”
Cried the seraph throng
Glory to the Holy One
Join in heaven’s song

Heavy is Our Savior’s Cross is a somber hymn about the beating and crucifixion of Christ.
Heavy is our Savior’s cross
Weighed down by human sin
His blood so pure, no earthly dross
Is borne by only Him

Highland Hymn. In one of the Ligonier National Conference “Question and Answer” sessions, R.C. Sproul Jr. became emotional about this song, saying as he listened to it he envisioned being united with his wife and daughter in Heaven. This song features musicians on Uilleann Pipes and Hammered Dulcimer that played on the scores for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings films.
Above the mists of Highland hills
E’en far above the clear blue skies
The end of pain and earthly ills
When we shall see His eyes
Lutes will sing
Pipers play
When we see Him face to face
On that day

Watch this behind-the-scenes glimpse into the making of “Highland Hymn”.

Viam Dei is an instrumental by Jeff Lippencott. Here’s how he explains the song:
“Viam Dei – a Latin title meaning “Way of God” – is a work that tries to express musically the struggles, the push and pull, the pain and peace that the Christian encounters on the road on which God has placed each of his beloved – the path toward sanctification”.

No More the Grave. This is a wonderful hymn that we sang at the conference and I’d like to sing at my church:
No more the grave can yield its sting
No more is death our foe
Our souls can now with gladness sing
Now gone all curse and woe He once was dead but now He lives
A groom now fit to wed
The Alpha and Omega reigns
Beginning to the end

Clothed in Righteousness. This is a hymn that we have sung at the past few National Conferences and at Saint Andrews Chapel:
Clothe us in Your righteousness
Hide filthy rags of sin
Dress us in Your Perfect garb
Both outside and within
No work of ours is good enough
For evil to atone
Your merit, Lord, is all we have
It saves, and it alone

These Great Things
What shall we say to these great things?
Of mystery sublime
That if He is for us we can sing
Now and for all time

Worthy is the Lamb – taken from the book of Revelation:
Ten thousand times, ten thousand more
The host of heaven cried
All blessing, honor, glory, and pow’r
To Christ, the Lamb that died

At the end of the album is a bonus conversation with Dr. Sproul and Jeff Lippencott talking about the project. Also included is a hymn Jeff wrote, “This Hymn, My Simple Gift”, which was inspired by the project.

The album is available on iTunes, Amazon.com and Ligonier.org. Read more about the new project here http://www.ligonier.org/blog/glory-holy-one-announcing-rc-sprouls-new-sacred-hymns-project/