Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

The Crucifixion of Jesus – Fernando Ortega
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Fernando Ortega, one of our most beloved Christian artists, returns with his first album since 2011’s Come Down O Love Divine. The Crucifixion of Jesus, which features eleven contemplative songs and six readings (which were selected and edited by his pastor), is a wonderful project about Holy Week, that will allow you to meditate on Jesus’ arrest and death and sacrifice. Ortega co-produced the album with Bernard Chadwick, and it was engineered and mixed by Brandon Bell.

Below are a few brief comments on each song:

Blessed Be Our God – This is a beautiful song that features Ortega’s vocal over piano and cello and light backing vocals.

Prepare The Way, O Zion – This song was written by Frans Mikael Franzen. It features light drums, piano and cello. It is about Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem where he will be crucified.

House of Prayer – This short song is about Jesus cleansing the temple (John 11:15-18). His house shall be called a prayer for all nations, but you have made it a den of thieves.

In My Father’s Kingdom – This song is about the institution of the Lord’s Supper (Mark 12-24). It features piano and cello.

Stay with Me Here – The song is about Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 26: 26-42). Jesus’ soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. He pleads for his disciples to stay with him and keep watch with him. Features piano and cello.

Your Will Be Done – This short song is a prayer to the Father that His will be done. It features a light guitar.

O Great Love, O Love Beyond Measure – He sings about a great love beyond measure that Jesus would lay down his life for a faithless sinner. He didn’t turn away from those who struck his face. It features piano and guitar.

Ah, Holy Jesus, How Have You Offended? – The was written by Johann Heermann in 1630 about the doctrine of Christ’s atonement. We denied Christ. We crucified him. The song features piano, cello, and backing vocals from Audrey Assad, Jonathan Noel and Amanda Noel. Continue reading


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Concert Review ~ This Christmas – An Evening of Holiday and Hits:   Michael McDonald at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis

A few years ago I asked Michael Card who he enjoyed listening to and appreciated. He mentioned Ashley Cleveland (who I have seen in concert several times) and Michael McDonald. We finally got to see McDonald last week in St. Louis. The 63 year-old McDonald and his band kicked off their tour on Saturday, November 28 at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis.

We made a day of it in St. Louis, starting with lunch at Pappy’s Smokehouse, the best BBQ on earth, enjoying a concrete at Ted Drewe’s Frozen Custard, and staying at a new favorite hotel, the Hotel Ignacio, a short walk from the Fox. As we enjoyed a pre-concert dinner at the City Diner, just steps from the Fox, we watched the crowd heading to the Fox, most in their 60’s, or older. We had great seats for the show. Some in our section were quite dressed up, much different than most concerts we attend.

Being the first show on the tour, the transition between songs early was a little clunky for the band, prompting McDonald to welcome the crowd to their dress rehearsal. Other than the occasional green or red lighting, there was nothing on the stage (no Christmas trees, etc.) that would tell you it was a Christmas show.

McDonald has an excellent band, with Bernie Chiaravalle on guitar, Pat Coil on keyboards, Mark Douthit on sax/keyboards, Dan Needham on drums, Drea Rhenee on vocals (she directed the Praise Ensemble of the First Baptist Church of Chesterfield which joined the band on a few songs). About her he said that she “takes the edge off the middle-aged ugliness onstage”. The newest member of the band was a bassist (didn’t get his name) who has replaced Tommy Sims in the band. McDonald himself played several instruments (keyboards, mandolin, etc.)

McDonald’s rich voice is still an incredible instrument. He is passionate about his music, and although he spoke at times to the hometown crowd (he was born in nearby Ferguson, Missouri) for the most part he let his music do the talking for him.

He split the concert between Christmas music (standards with new arrangements and originals) and his Doobie Brothers and solo hits. As a result, the concert didn’t necessarily build excitement enough to get the crowd on their feet until the set closing “What a Fool Believes”. In addition, the set list had a more serious tone, perhaps reflecting the events that took place in Ferguson in 2014 and more recent events such as the Paris and Planned Parenthood in Colorado attacks. Before playing his classic “Peace”, he mentioned that it was written for In the Spirit: A Christmas Album, but added it to his regular set list after the events of 9-11. It is one of my favorite of his songs:

I have come from so far away
Down the road of my own mistakes
In the hope you could hear me pray
Oh lord, keep me in your reach

How I’ve longed through these wasted years
To outrun all the pain and fear
Turned to stone from my uncried tears
And now it’s your grace I seek

Love won’t compromise
It’s a gift, it’s a sacrifice
My soul renewed, and my heart released
In you I’ll find my peace

Wondrous child of whom the angels sing
Know my joy, feel my suffering
Shining star make this love you bring
So bright that I may believe

That my way will not be lost
From now on, ’til that river’s crossed
My soul renewed, and my spirit free
In you I’ll find my peace

He also included some other unexpected songs – Tommy Sims’ “Change the World” and the Burt Bacharach/Hal David song “What the World Needs Now” and “Love is the Answer”.

The four song encore began with “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, with McDonald saying that the song reminded him of Christmases growing up and also all of the people he loved who are no longer with him. The one hour and forty-five minute concert ended with a rousing “Takin’ it to the Streets”, which sent the happy crowd out onto Grand Avenue.

Christmas songs performed:

  • To Make a Miracle
  • Children Go Where I Send You
  • Everytime Christmas Comes Around
  • Peace
  • White Christmas/Winter Wonderland
  • Wexford Carol
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  • O Holy Night (Drea Rhenee on vocals)
  • Christmas in the Bayou

Other songs performed:

  • Here to Love You
  • I Keep Forgettin’
  • What a Fool Believes
  • Takin’ it to the Streets
  • Sweet Freedom
  • Minute by Minute
  • Love is the Answer
  • Change the World
  • What the World Needs Now

Music News:

  • Smitty Hymns II AlbumNew Michael W. Smith Hymns Album. Michael W. Smith will once again partner with Cracker Barrel Old Country Store with a second hymns album, Michael W. Smith Hymns II – Shine On Us, to be released January 29, 2016.
  • No Love. New music from Andy Mineo, as he guests on this song by Fern of Social Club.
  • Adore. Watch this video of “Adore”, the title songs from Chris Tomlin’s new Christmas album.
  • Someday at Christmas. See Stevie Wonder and Andra Day sing Wonder’s classic Christmas song in this Apple ad.
  • Hymns of Grace. The Master’s Seminary, in conjunction with Grace Community Church, recently announced the publication of a new hymnal: Hymns of Grace. The new hymnal combines the most beloved hymns of church history with profound songs that are being written in the church today.
  • Keith Getty Isn’t Sick of Singing the Same Christmas Songs. Ivan Mesa talks to Keith Getty about how churches should prepare for Christmas, why suffering should be a theme this season, losing the “Christmas spirit,” and more.”
  • Worship and BelieveWorship and Believe. Steven Curtis Chapman’s new album Worship and Believe will be released March 4. You can pre-order the Deluxe edition now on iTunes and receive four songs as instant downloads, including the new single “Amen”. The album will features guests such as Matt Maher and Chris Tomlin. Here is a video of Chapman and his band singing and leading “Amen” at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas.
  • Mockingbird Duet. Stephen Colbert, who dueted with Carly Simon’s ex-husband James Taylor recently, duets with Simon on the song “Mockingbird” that Simon and Tayler had a hit with.
  • The Boss Back on the Road. Bruce Springsteen hits the road for a nine-week The River Tour, which will kick off in Pittsburgh on January 16 after a December 19 performance on Saturday Night Live. Each night’s set will be recorded and released as digital downloads and CDs, available for download and purchase several days after each show. The River Tour supports Springsteen’s new archival release, The Ties That Bind: The River Collection (Read Rolling Stone’s review here), which revisits his classic 1980 album The River. The River is my favorite Springsteen album and we saw two shows on the original The River Tour, classic shows that approached four hours in length.
  • Rolling Stones’ 50 Best Albums of 2015. The list includes a lot of albums I’m not familiar with, but it also includes some of my favorites this year by Bob Dylan, Don Henley and James Taylor.
  • Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues. See this new video for Bob Dylan’s song “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” from The Best Of The Cutting Edge 1965 – 1966: The Bootleg Series Vol. 12.

Song of the Week   Feel It by Toby Mac

This week we continue our countdown to our annual “My Favorites” listing with our #3 song of the year, “Feel It” by Toby Mac. Watch the fun video here.

Funktify
C’mon
’bout to do it like this
’bout to do it like this
1-2-3-4

When I sit back and imagine
Life without you, I can’t fathom
How I ever thought I’d make it on my own
And there’s at least a million reasons
I’m still standing here believin’
You’re my comfort, you’re my healin’
This I know (this I know)

Well, you can’t see the wind, but it moves the leavesFeel It Toby Mac
From the bottom to the top of the tallest trees
You are everything I will ever need
And they can’t take that from me

Oh, I feel it in my heart
I feel it in my soul
That’s how I know
You take our brokenness and make us beautiful
Yeah, that’s how I know (can’t take that from me)

Love came crashin’ in
Never gonna be the same again
Yeah, You came crashing in
You wrecked me, You wrecked me

Everybody talkin’ like they need some proof
But what more do I need than to feel you
Everybody talkin’ like they need some proof
But what more do I need than to feel you

When I sit back and imagine
Life without you, I can’t fathom
How I ever thought I’d make it on my own
And there’s at least a million reasons
I’m still standing here believin’
You’re my comfort, you’re my healin’
This I know (this I know)

Well, you can’t see the wind, but it moves the leaves
From the bottom to the top of the tallest trees
You are everything I will ever need
And they can’t take that from me

Oh, I feel it in my heart
I feel it in my soul
That’s how I know
You take our brokenness and make us beautiful
Yeah, that’s how I know (can’t take that from me)

Love came crashin’ in
Never gonna be the same again
Yeah, you came crashing in
You wrecked me, you wrecked me

That’s how I know
That’s how I know
That’s how I know
That’s how I know

Oh, I feel it in my heart
I feel it in my soul
That’s how I know
You take our brokenness and make us beautiful
Yeah, that’s how I know (can’t take that from me)

Everybody talkin’ like they need some proof
But what more do I need than to feel you
Everybody talkin’ like they need some proof
But what more do I need than to feel you

Michael Card Quote