Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Forever On Your Side (Niles City Sound Sessions) – NEEDTOBREATHE
*** ½

This EP contains four songs that the band recorded over a few weeks while they were in Fort Worth, Texas with the producer trio Niles City Sound. The EP gives us a good idea where the constantly evolving band is now. Below are a few comments about each of the new songs:
Bridges Burn – This was the first song released from the EP. It opens with piano and hand-clap. Bear Rinehart sings that it’s time for moving on as there are some things you can’t forget. He wants to watch all his bridges burn and dance in the light of a lesson learned. He wants to leave everything that hurts and never go back to the way they were. The mid-tempo song builds gradually over a passionate vocal.
Key lyric:  I need to find somewhere I can believe. I need to know there’s a chance we can be.

Darling – This beautiful song has Bear singing over acoustic guitar. He is singing to his wife, wanting to talk to her on the phone while he’s on the road and she’s at home. He just wants to be home with her, the only thing that carries him through. He acknowledges that it’s hard for her to be at home, taking care of the house on her own. As the song builds, light instrumentation, including some horns and backing vocals supplement Bear’s vocals. Key lyric: I don’t wanna do this alone.

Bullets – This song opens with guitar, and then moves into a rock beat, with drum, organ, horns, keys and backing vocals. The song is about how you can’t put the bullets back into a gun, can’t undo what we have done or said, which is a tough lesson we have to learn.  Musically, it’s the most interesting song on the collection.
Key lyric: Don’t let your heart be stone, don’t be the bitter one.

Forever On Your Side – The closing song was the only song that hadn’t been released prior to the full EP being released, and it’s my favorite song on the EP. It features husband and wife duo Johnnyswim (Amanda Sudano and Abner Ramirez) on backing vocals. The band has indicated that this song was written for their fans who have been with them since the very beginning. The song begins with guitar and then builds with drums and banjo. The lyrics are uplifting and encouraging. We don’t know what’s around the bend but love knows no end and he’ll be forever on her side. Like Jesus, he will carry her every time because he’s forever on her side. With Johnnyswim joining the band on tour, this song will sound amazing live.
Key lyric:  Take my hand when you can’t see the light, ‘cause I’m forever on your side.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
 Reviews of Nobody Loves Me Like You by Chris Tomlin and My New Moon by Amos Lee
 Music News
 Music Quotes from Keith Getty
 Song of the Week Lyrics
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Think Before You Sing ~ Part III

Revelation 7:9-10

Remember that question in Part I of Think Before You Sing (read Part I and Part II) I wanted you to mull over…  What is the purpose of worship?
Is it to give us an emotional impact by replicating stadium-style worship concerts?  Is it to bring young people into the church or brand our church?

Try this answer on for size:  We are to worship God how God wants us to worship Him.  Worship should first and foremost be designed to please God.

Worship must not be designed to please the unbeliever for evangelistic purposes or the believer to raise emotional fervor. The nineteenth-century pastor Charles Spurgeon said, “The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them.”  Entertainment can stir the emotions, but God uses the means of grace to change our affections. Yes, worship also raises our religious affections.  So who would have guessed that Jonathan Edwards from the 1700’s would write about religious affections?  A stuffy stodgy old Puritan?  I dare you to read more about it: https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/evangelical-history/2016/09/21/the-religious-affections-by-jonathan-edwards-a-qa-on-an-evangelical-classic/

Jesus taught the most basic principle for worship—“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Zeal of the heart is not sufficient to make our praise pleasing in God’s sight. One of the most enthusiastic worship services in history was the worship of the golden calf, and that did not end well for the worshipers (Ex. 32). Praise from the heart is not enough to please the Lord if we are not worshiping the true God, and so we must prize truth alongside ardor when we praise our Creator.   We must emphasize both heartfelt praise of our Creator and worship that is structured according to His Word.

Are you a Spectator on Sunday Morning?  I agree with modern hymn writer Keith Getty ~ Worship should also be the congregation singing to each other the goodness of the Lord; singing the Bible (Eph. 5:19Col. 3:16) and joining with the voices of Christians over thousands of years in singing timeless truths.    It’s time to tear down the performance-oriented/concert-style stage, make the Word and the pulpit central again, turn down the volume of the instruments, turn up the houselights and enjoy singing alongside and hearing our Christian brothers and sisters sing of God and His glory accompanied by a variety of instruments.  Can I get an Amen?

PSALM 150

1 Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! 
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! 
3 Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! 
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! 
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!


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Think Before You Sing ~ Part II

In Part I while thinking about worship lyrics and theology, we discussed  “What a Beautiful Name” by Hillsong – you can read Part I here.   I’m reminded of a song popularized years ago by Michael W. Smith, “Above All”. I recall Contemporary Christian artist and now pastor, Steve Camp, commenting about the poor theology in the song, which contained the chorus:

Revelation 7:9-10

Crucified
Laid behind the stone
You lived to die
Rejected and alone
Like a rose trampled on the ground
You took the fall
And thought of me
Above all

The song does affirm the substitutionary atonement of Christ. But it tells us that when Christ was on the cross, he thought of us (man) above all. Is that correct? No, Jesus went to the cross out of obedience to his Father, pleading in the Garden of Gethsemane “Not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).  The Son entered into a sacred agreement (the covenant of redemption) with the Father in eternity past. He submitted Himself to the obligations of that covenantal agreement. An obligation was likewise assumed by the Father — to give His Son a reward for doing the work of redemption.  Christ became the heir of His Father’s promises and we are joint heirs with Christ.

We have to be careful when singing contemporary and traditional worship songs containing bad theology. Even the great hymn by Charles Wesley “And Can It Be” has lines that are questionable, indicating that Christ “emptied himself of all but love”.  This is called kenotic Christology and says the Son of God set aside certain divine attributes when He became incarnate. Such is impossible, for then He would not be fully God and could not save us. John Calvin comments, “Christ, indeed, could not divest himself of Godhead; but he kept it concealed for a time, that it might not be seen, under the weakness of the flesh. Hence he laid aside his glory in the view of men, not by lessening it, but by concealing it.”

What about Charles Wesley writing that God himself actually died on the cross?

Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Verse 2:  ’Tis mystery all! The Immortal dies!
Who can explore His strange design?  

Here’s a good article that addresses this error:  http://www.ligonier.org/blog/it-accurate-say-god-died-cross/

OK, can I just add an addendum…there’s bad theology in lyrics, and then there’s just bad lyrics.  Take for example “Knowing You” by Graham Kendrick:

Knowing you, Jesus
Knowing you, there is no greater thing
You’re my all, you’re the best

You’re the best?  Really?  Doesn’t it sound like a beer commercial?  Our worship leader changed those words to “you’re my rest” which is a lot better.

So, yes, the theology in our hymns does matter. Words Matter.  Fortunately, I’ve not had to worry about that at the church that I attend. One faithful servant has picked out the music to correspond with the text being preached for many years now.   She chooses the best of the old and the best of the new, and often chooses songs written by Keith Getty, who desires to revive congregational singing.  Check out his new book Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church.

I’d like to encourage all of us (myself included) to learn to sing out of the hymnbook that God has already provided for us.  No, not the Trinity Hymnal.  The Book of Psalms!!  You can’t go wrong with these lyrics.  Crown and Covenant has put out Singable Psalms in pocket size.  You can go to their website, crownandcovenant.com and also psalter.org and find companion resources such as a familiar hymn tune list & library, harmony helps, text search tool, phone apps and recordings.

So in Part III we’ll discuss the question… What is the purpose of worship?

Let me hear your answers!