The Everlasting Word Band’s “Glory”

unnamedGlory, the new Christmas album by the Everlasting Word Band, will be released next week. You can begin your Christmas music binge on November 24th!

The EWB (almost named “Drink the Sweet”!) has come a long way since those first rehearsals in my garage almost ten years ago. Back then we barely knew how to hook our gear into the sound system, and we most certainly didn’t know how to get what we needed from stage monitors (I’m still repenting for some of those rehearsals…). If the quality of this album is any indication, those days are long gone. Now the EWB is putting out professional quality recordings and wonderfully creative songs, all for the sake of the church.

Speaking generally, Glory shows a commitment to the joy of Christmas. They’ve bypassed the angsty navel-gazing sort of Christmas music some bands produce. Instead, the mind goes outward to the glory of Jesus Christ and the wonder of His humble love for mankind. Thank you! This is worshipful music.

I’ve listened to their new songs twice and here are a few comments, song-by-song… Continue reading

A lofty goal of setting all 150 psalms…

The church needs to be singing the Psalms. There is a range of expression, emotion, and intensity in those inspired songs that must find a place in our worship today. If we do the hard work of setting the psalms with singable, beautiful, and modern melodies, we’ll realize how indispensable these texts are for the proper reverence of God and for the encouragement of God’s people. To that end, my friends at Clearnote Church have set a lofty goal of setting all 150 psalms, but they need your support.

Here is an example of their great work (Psalm 3)… Continue reading

Good Christmas music: All the Bells Shall Ring…

We have a few policies in the Dionne household in regard to Christmas music: 1) we don’t listen to it before Thanksgiving (a rule I gladly break for the Good Shepherd Band), and 2) we purchase a new album each year to add to the collection. By this point, we’ve amassed an eclectic mix of music…bluegrass, folk, prog rock, country, Renaissance, jazz, Herb, and, of course, Nat and Vince. Some we’ve abandoned, and some we’ve worn out. Three years ago with the release of the Good Shepherd Band’s Repeat the Sounding Joy we had a new favorite, particularly the powerful “The Lord at First Did Adam Make”:

a0655437050_2Now this year—today—the Good Shepherd Band has pulled out the orchestral and sleigh bells (and, apparently, a newly acquired electronic keyboard) for their second Christmas album. They found some old, familiar but broken-down songs and brought them into the shop for a change of tires, a new paint job, and quite a few additional horses under the hood. You won’t have to sift through the album to weed out dumb songs about Jack and Nick and Rudy. These songs are about the Lord Jesus Christ and His birth as the Savior of man. I have only listened through the whole of the album once, but as was the case with their last offering, I expect this music will make a lasting imprint on my family’s celebration of our Lord’s incarnation.

I’ll call out a few of my favorites, quick impressions after one listen: the drum-heavy and guitar-gnarly “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” is excellent (it takes second place to Jethro Tull’s instrumental version). “Fullness of Time” is musically and textually beautiful, wonderfully singable. Banjo in “I Saw Three Ships” made me smile and then the full Sufjan-ish orchestration had me dancing. I’m especially happy the album closes with some Scripture songs—the Magnificat, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Song of Simeon (Nunc Dimittis). Give us more!

Here’s a sample…have a listen and please consider purchasing the album so that the men who have set about this work of reforming the worship of the Church might be encouraged to keep going…

Fullness of Time…

Some encouragement from the Good Shepherd Band…

 

From Adam’s rebellion to Moses’ good law,
Death reigned the master of men;
With all of creation, held under its claw,
Awaiting redemption from sin.
But when the law thundered in earthquake and fire,
Weak as it was through our flesh,
It could not help conquer our sinful desires,
Only tightened the noose ‘round our neck.

Still, God remembered His mercy in wrath
And promised a way of escape:
A Lamb to be killed on the people’s behalf
Would trample the head of the snake.
But though we would offer our best to the fire,
And rivers of blood would be spilt,
This could not help with our sinful desires,
Nor atone for the depth of our guilt.

Chorus
When the fullness of time had come,
God sent us His only Son,
Born of a woman, born under law,
So that He might a people redeem.        (x2)

With joy set before Him and love to display,
He laid aside His great crown;
To share in our nature as creatures of clay,
He emptied Himself and came down:
Lived like a servant without any home,
Carried our sorrows and griefs,
Was spit at, rejected, despised and alone;
Accursed, He hung on a tree.

(Chorus)

Bridge
No longer slaves, we were bought with a price;
Adopted, delivered, we’re sons now with Christ.
We stand in His righteousness dressed,
To His righteousness freed!                         (x2)

(Chorus)

So that He might a people redeem.

Lyrics and Music by Jody Killingsworth

Sing to the Lord a new song…

Psalm 149 commands us to “sing to the LORD a new song.” Such songs require a commitment appropriate to the glory of the one we sing to, a gladness and joy so deep that our normally comatose Presbyterian bodies move: “Let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King. Let them praise His name with dancing” (Ps. 149:2-3). God commands us to sing a faith-filled war-cry: “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations…” (Ps. 149:6-7).

Faith in God pushes us in that zealous direction, helped along by the emotional power God has vested in music. Below is an example that should help you worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness. The greatness of Almighty God is not adequately expressed by flutes and violins and the hushed tones of a reedy organ stop. The weight of drums and amplification explain the text of Psalm 46 appropriately. Your sensibilities may be offended but stop and consider whether the offense comes because of your elitist, gentlemanly, safe, effeminate view, not of musical instrumentation and compositional style, but of God Himself. Our sin causes us to do that calf-making kind of work. God’s presence will one day cause men to call for the mountains and the rocks to fall on them that they may be hidden from the presence of “Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev. 6:15). When was the last time the music you sing in worship led to such God-glorifying contemplation?

 

Like King David, these men…

“Then one of the young men said, ‘Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man; and the LORD is with him'” (1 Sam. 16:18).

I’m constantly strengthened by the work of the musician-warriors at two churches that have been mothers to me: Christ the Word Church in Toledo, OH and Clearnote Church in Bloomington, IN. My brothers in Toledo recently led worship in the Fulton County Fair Gospel Tent. I miss leading the praise of God with these men…1237331_10152305079317481_2090638137_o

The men in Bloomington have provided the church with a treasure: the Clearnote Songbook. Wonder what their worship is like? Have a look at their liturgy, posted each week. Looking for some beautifully designed online confessions? Here you go. Those things are icing on the cake… The substance of the cake is the Songbook. Go here to listen through their whole catalog. The Songbook provides texts (powerpoint), chord charts, lead sheets, audio, and some video of the excellent songs they have written for worship.

Let me draw your attention to a few of the songs that have bolstered my faith this afternoon:

Psalm 1: “How Blessed Is The Man”

Psalm 1 How Blessed Is the Man_lead sheet_real key_1_Page_1

“Hiding Place”

Hiding Place_lead sheet_real key_Page_1

“His Final Word”

His Final Word_lead sheet

A simple comparison…

Typical modern praise song:

“I Could Sing of Your Love Forever” by Delirious?

Over the mountains and the sea
Your river runs with love for me
And I will open up my heart
And let the Healer set me free
I’m happy to be in the truth
And I will daily lift my hands
For I will always sing
Of when Your love came down

I could sing
I could sing of your love forever

Over the mountains and the sea
Your river runs with love for me
And I will open up my heart
And let the Healer set me free
I’m happy to be in the truth
And I will daily lift my hands
For I will always sing
Of when Your love came down

I could sing of Your love forever
I could sing of Your love forever
I could sing of Your love forever
I could sing of Your love forever

Oh I feel like dancing
It’s foolishness I know
But when the world has seen the light
They will dance with joy like we’re dancing now

I could sing of Your love forever
I could sing of Your love forever
I could sing of Your love forever
I could sing of Your love forever

Typical Scripture praise song:

Psa. 58:0 For the choir director; set to Al-tashheth. A Mikhtam of David.
 
1 Do you indeed speak righteousness, O gods?
Do you judge uprightly, O sons of men?
2 No, in heart you work unrighteousness;
On earth you weigh out the violence of your hands.
3 The wicked are estranged from the womb;
These who speak lies go astray from birth.
4 They have venom like the venom of a serpent;
Like a deaf cobra that stops up its ear,
5 So that it does not hear the voice of charmers,
Or a skillful caster of spells.
 
6 O God, shatter their teeth in their mouth;
Break out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD.
7 Let them flow away like water that runs off;
When he aims his arrows, let them be as headless shafts.
8 Let them be as a snail which melts away as it goes along,
Like the miscarriages of a woman which never see the sun.
9 Before your pots can feel the fire of thorns
He will sweep them away with a whirlwind, the green and the burning alike.
 
10 The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance;
He will wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.
11 And men will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous;
Surely there is a God who judges on earth!”

Clearnote Songbook…

Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 1.08.29 PMMy dear friends in Bloomington, IN have been working on the Clearnote Songbook project for many years. Check out their great work which includes the songbook (audio, lead sheets, etc.), the War Horn blog, some liturgical guides (calls to worship, sacraments), beautifully-formatted confessions (Westminster here), and more.

Follow this link to run through all the audio they have up on the site.