Tuesday, 22 March 2011
At some point last year, my former church started playing a lot of great songs. I mean, I'd always enjoyed the contemporary music we worshiped to, but these particular songs just felt "elevated" or something. Passionate. Many of these new songs came from an album entitled Awakening, a musical project from the Passion worship team at the Passion 2010 conference in Atlanta. I was blown away by so many of these songs, and there were so many great artists leading worship on this single album: David Crowder Band, Chris Tomlin and even Hillsong United, to name a few.
Well, fast-forward a year later and another incredible "American Hillsong," Passion worship album has emerged. Here for Youfeatures twelve tracks -- half of them led by Tomlin and the others led by the Passion-frequented voices of David Crowder Band, Christy Nockels, Kristian Stanfill, Charlie Hall and Matt Redman. Here are my quick takes on some of these beautiful songs:
- Here for You - The album sprints from the gates with this anthem of a title track. Starting with a slow, steady clap from the gathered worshipers, Tomlin takes the song to new heights with the first chorus and especially the bridge: We welcome You with praise, we welcome You with praise, almighty God of love, be welcomed in this place; let every heart adore, let every soul awake, almighty God of love, be welcomed in this place! If that's not saying, "Lord, we're here for you," I really don't know what does.
- Symphony - Sometimes it only takes three words. With "Symphony," it's the repeating chorus: Stand in awwwwwwe. When Tomlin eventually steps away from the mic, these three simple words resound beautifully from the crowd, and you get the tangible sense that yes, these Passion worshipers are indeed standing as such.
- All My Fountains - Another Tomlin-led song soaked with incredible water imagery throughout: "water falling like a song," "an everlasting stream," "a flood for my soul," "a well that never will run dry," "strong like a river," "Your river carries me Home," and ultimately several repetitions of, "Rain down on us, Lord." Indeed, may all my fountains -- my critical life-source -- flow from God alone.
- Shadows - David Crowder Band's chilling comparison of the haunting shadows found in our "valleys of death" with the glorious shadow of the cross. Such a poetic, well-crafted song. Also worthy of note: I never knew I could appreciate or even enjoy Christian rap -- yes, Christian rap -- until I heard Lecrae's bridge for the song. You really need to hear how it fits into the song for yourself, but his lines are just too good not to copy here word-for-word:
With every breath I take, every heartbeat
Sunrise and the moon lights in the dark street
Every glance, every dance, every note of a song
All a gift undeserved that I shouldn't have known
Every moment I lie, every moment I covet
I'm deserving to die, I'm earning Your judgment
Without the cross there's only condemnation
If Jesus wasn't executed there's no celebration
So in times that are good, in times that are bad
For any time I've had it all I will be glad
And I will boast in the cross, I boast in His name
I will boast in the sunshine, boast in His rain/reign
What's my life if it's not praising You
Another dollar in my bank account of vain pursuit, I do
That count my life as any value or precious at all
Let me finish my race, let me answer Your call
- Lord, I Need You - Passion's twist on the classic hymn, "I Need Thee." This kind of "hymn-revamping" is becoming increasingly common in Christian music today, and I'm liking it. It by no means eradicates the inspiration of the original songs, but I like seeing these traditional songs be made fresh and new again by today's artists, bridging musical gaps from older generations to the current one. Tomlin in particular has become a pro at this, retooling John Newton's "Amazing Grace" with an entirely new chorus several albums back.
- Carry Your Name / Waiting Here for You - Christy Nockels has such a pristine voice; I love her passion. There are just no words. "Waiting Here for You" fittingly contributes to the album's title.
- Forever Reign - I love Kristian Stanfill's Passion cover of this Hillsong hit. My favorite lines either edition have to be the chorus opening: I'm running to Your arms, I'm running to Your arms. I just get such a sense of righteous movement with those lines -- a huge reason why I often sing these particular lines in my head while running at the track.
- Spirit Fall - The "Awakening" of this album -- the closing mega-song that spans over seven minutes in length. Tomlin doesn't enter the song until after the Passion crowd leads in with some chilling repetitions of "Spirit fall." I'm a big bridge guy, especially in worship songs, so I got plenty of goosebumps hearing Tomlin's annunciations of certain words in said bridge: "Oh, come magnify the Son, Savior of the world, the hope for everyone!"
All in all, another pretty spectacular assembly of songs from the Passion crew. And if you purchase the album's deluxe edition, you get even more worship goodness: three additional songs, including another rap-tastic Lecrae appearance amid Awakening's hit, "Our God." Oh yes, indeed -- another must-hear. With the deluxe edition also comes an hour-long message from Louie Giglio.
My only "complaint," if you could call it that, is that Here for You is a very Tomlin-heavy album. And I do love Chris Tomlin, but I wish we could've gotten some more creative musical pairings, a la Tomlin-Nockels from my favorite Awakening song, "Where the Spirit of the Lord Is." All in all though, another excellent album and I can't wait to see what the Passion crew pumps out next year.
What do you think of Passion's latest album? What's your favorite track? Did you attend the Passion conference in Atlanta this year, and if so, what was it like? Whose worship do you dig more: Passion or Hillsong?