Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Letter to You – Bruce Springsteen
*** ½

I’ve been a long-time fan of Springsteen’s music, though not his politics. The first of his albums that I bought new was 1978’s excellent Darkness on the Edge of Town. I fondly remember humming songs from that album – “Prove it All Night”, “Badlands”, etc. – as I was walking through an office building doing an end of night inspection as the manager of a cleaning crew while going to college.
Letter to You is the 71-year-old Springsteen’s twentieth studio album, and first with the E Street Band (Roy Bittan, Nils Lofgren, Patti Scialfa, Garry Tallent, Stevie Van Zandt, Max Weinberg, Charlie Giordano and Jake Clemons), since 2014’s High Hopes. The album was produced by Ron Aniello and assisted by Springsteen.
Springsteen wrote all of the songs, most of which were written in April 2019. Three of the songs “Janey Needs a Shooter”, “If I Was a Priest” and “Song for Orphans” date back to the early 1970’s. The album was recorded live in just five days at Springsteen’s home studio with very minimal overdubs.
This is a very personal album. Themes include loss of friends, relationships, looking back, the power of music, and spirituality.

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It’s Christmas!

Artwork Is Copyright Blue Chair Blessing

  • The Real Meaning of Christmas. Stephen Nichols writes “Yet, this child was the Son of God incarnate. He was Immanuel, which translated means “God with us.” According to the Apostle Paul’s account, this infant created all things. This infant created His own manger. And this infant, this King, brings peace on earth, ultimate and permanent peace.”
  • The Magnificat. “The people of God may be weak, but He is not. In this brief video clip, R.C. Sproul draws encouragement from Mary’s Magnificat, showing how this song of praise extols the power of God to establish His kingdom and overcome all His enemies.”
  • Free Audiobook from Alistair Begg. The December free audiobook download from Christianaudio is a good one – Christmas Playlist: Four Songs That Bring You to the Heart of Christmas by Alistair Begg. Download your copy here.
  • 3 Reasons Jesus is Our Only Hope. Paul Tripp writes “The Advent story is a hope story because it chronicles the coming to earth of the One who is hope, Jesus.”
  • The Child of Prophesy. John MacArthur writes “The prophetic message of Christmas is the good news of God’s answer to all the confusion, chaos, complexities, and conflicts of life. It is the gift of the newborn infant who is also the Father of all eternity. He is an innocent child, yet He is a wise Counselor and mighty King. He is God with us. Immanuel.”
  • Spurgeon Broke with His Puritan Heroes on Celebrating Christmas. Ray Rhodes Jr. shares quotes from Charles Spurgeon’s December 23, 1860 sermon from Job 1:4-5 titled, “A Merry Christmas.”
  • Christmas Music from the Gettys. Keith and Kristyn Getty have released Irish Christmas Festival. “This collection of songs reflects the full spectrum of response we can have to Christmas, all inspired by the Celtic sounds and folk traditions of Keith and Kristyn Getty’s native Northern Ireland. From the yearning of a dark and broken world to be made new to the unstoppable foot-tapping joy that breaks into our lives with the Savior’s birth, these songs help us remember why Christmas matters. Hear the call to “come let us adore him,” be stirred by the classic Irish folk melodies, and join in the song of the ages: Christ the Savior is born.” Listen to it here.
  • Songs of Hope: A TGC Advent Concert. Watch the Songs of Hope: A Gospel Coalition Advent Concert featuring artists Sandra McCracken, Keith and Kristyn Getty, Shane and Shane and many more.


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Evensong – Hymns and Lullabies at the Close of Day– Keith and Kristyn Getty
****

Evensong is the first new studio album for Keith and Kristyn Getty since 2016’s Facing a Task Unfinished. It is not your usual album of new modern hymns from the Gettys, but rather more of a Kristyn Getty solo project born out of a family tradition. The Gettys close out their days with a time of reflection in thought, song, and prayer. These are lullabies and hymns that they have sung to and for their own children.
The project was recorded in Nashville during the COVID-19 shelter at home season. Ben Shive, who produced the album with Keith and Kristyn, was able to gather recordings from each musical collaborator and create a project fusing the Celtic, folk, bluegrass, classical, and Americana sound the Gettys have become known for. The musical backing is more restrained than a normal Getty album, but no less beautiful. The cover art was specially created by internationally renowned Irish artist Ross Wilson. The album features guest appearances from Vince Gill, Heather Headley, Ellie Holcomb, Sierra Hull, Deborah Kelmme and Sandra McCracken
Below are a few thoughts about each song:

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

United – Newsboys (Deluxe Edition)
****

In the spring of 2018, former Newsboys lead singer Peter Furler and former bassist Phil Joel joined the then current Newsboy lineup of Michael Tait, Duncan Phillips, Jeff Frankenstein and Jody Davis for a Newsboys reunion tour. Since then the Newsboys United have played more than 150 concerts. As a result, this new studio album has been highly anticipated. And the album, which is comprised of praise and worship songs, does not disappoint. The album, co-produced by Furler and Duncan Sparks and featuring a number of different writers, has a clean and energetic sound, as it merges the former members and current members together for a satisfying result.

Below are a few comments about each song:

Greatness of Our God – This worship song about the greatness of God, was written by Bryan Fowler, Colby Wedgeworth and Ethan Hulse. This was the first song released from the album. Furler and Tait share lead vocals on an excellent opening song.

Symphony – This song was written by Bryan Fowler, Colby Wedgeworth and Ethan Hulse. The voices of Furler and Tait blend well on this prayer, and Phillips’ drums particularly stand out.

Key lyrics:
So, let my life be, let my life be
A symphony, a symphony
Every breath that I breathe
Lord I wanna bring You glory, glory


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~ Believe by Russ Taff
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New and Upcoming Music I’m Excited About….and You May Be Too

As we settle into 2020, there are a number of new and upcoming albums, in a variety of genres, that I’m excited about, and you may be as well. Let’s get started….

Let There Be Wonder – Matt Redman

Let There Be Wonder is worship leader, singer/songwriter Matt Redman’s fourteenth album, and first since 2017’s Glory Song. Redman has given us worship classics like “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” “The Heart of Worship” and “Blessed Be Your Name”. The new album was produced by Jacob Sooter and Joshua Silverberg, and was recorded live in front of more than 1,000 people at a California church. Redman wrote all of the songs with a variety of collaborators. This is the first really good album that I’ve heard of 2020, and is sure to make it onto my “Favorites” list for the year.

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3 New Resources to Help You to Prepare to Celebrate Christmas This Year


I always enjoy exploring new resources that are released each year to help us to prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth. This year, I’ve enjoyed reading a new book on The Characters of Christmas from Dan Darling and listening to new albums by two of my favorite artists, Andrew Peterson and Keith and Kristyn Getty. Continue reading


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11 New and Upcoming Albums You Might Be Interested In

There are a number of new and upcoming albums, in a variety of genres, that I would like to share with you that you may be interested in.

Abbey Road (Super Deluxe Edition – Beatles

Just as he did with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Beatles (The White Album), Giles Martin, son of the long-time Beatles producer George Martin, has given us a remixed anniversary project on the 50th anniversary of the release of Abbey Road. The Super Deluxe Anniversary Edition includes a new mix of the original album, which was produced by George Martin, which includes the famous closing suite on side 2, John Lennon’s “Come Together” and two of George Harrison’s best songs – “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun”. In addition, this edition includes 23 outtakes and demos, which was what I was most excited about. Continue reading


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Reflections from the 2019 Sing! Getty Worship Conference


Recently, my wife Tammy and I attended the 2019 Sing! Getty Worship Conference, held in Nashville. This is a conference without parallel, as pastor John MacArthur stated. The Sing! Conference is a part of Keith and Kristyn Getty’s five-year initiative; a learning journey to help pastors, musicians and leaders build a Biblical understanding and creative vision for congregational singing in their churches. This article has some of the take-aways from the conference that we found helpful and enlightening, and thought you would too.  Tammy and I also attended the 2018 Sing! Conference. You can read my reflections from that conference here. Continue reading


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Sing! Psalms: Ancient + Modern (Live At The Getty Music Worship Conference) – Keith and Kristyn Getty
****

This album was recorded live at the second annual Getty Music Worship Sing!  Conference at the Nashville Music City Center and historic Ryman Auditorium, September 10-12, 2018. I attended this conference, and can attest that the singing of the 7,500 attendees, along with a 300-person choir, was a foretaste of Heaven. Keith Getty and his incredible songwriting partners had written several new songs on the Psalms for the conference, many of which were included on the Getty’s EP The North Coast Sessions, which was released just prior to the conference. Five songs from The North Coast Sessions are included on the new live album. This recording features Keith and Kristyn Getty, their amazing band and several special guests.

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


The North Coast Sessions – Keith and Kristyn Getty
****

This EP of new hymns and songs, inspired by the book of Psalms and created with the Sing! 2018 conference in mind, was recorded by Keith and Kristyn Getty with their band in the little harbor of Portbradden along the North Antrim coast near the Getty’s home in Northern Ireland. I enjoyed hearing many of these songs at the Sing! 2018 conference.

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  • More of this review and reviews of The Beatles (White Album) and Native Tongue by Switchfoot
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