Posted February 26th, 2012 by admin with 3 Comments
I love finding those lesser-known corporate gems & finding opportunities to tastefully sneak them into a set – more often than not I find that, for many of them, every church in the world is singing them 3-5 years later (a few examples: “Sweetly Broken”, “How He Loves”, “Like a Lion”, etc & so on – check my back blogs from several years ago if you don’t believe me).
Well, here’s the batch of songs I’m currently camping out on – some by very well known worship artists – and some by absolute unknowns. Either way, these are songs that are speaking to me right now, which I hope to add to my sets soon. I hope they bless you!
“God on High” – Classic City Collective
I mentioned this one in a blog just about a month back, but it is worth repeating: the more I sit with this song, the more I think it is absolutely a NOW song – the perfect combination of that uber-modern-rock sound, combined with hymn-like qualities. Lyrically & musically, it stands far above the crowd.
“You make all things New” – Grace Midtown
This, too, was in my “best of 2011″ blog, though it only squeaked into 2011, having been released so late. Grace Midtown is one of my “home away from home” churches, where I am occasionally blessed to guest-lead. I consider the people there my family, & love all that they are about. Combining the gifts & talents of artists like Unhindered, After Edmund, Chris Moerman, Brett Stanfill, & the worship pastor of their parent church, Aaron Keyes, from a creative & musical angle it would be hard to go wrong, but beyond the technical, this is a deep, beautiful, & unforgettable song of praise.
“The Same Love” – Paul Baloche
As I mentioned in my latest review, Paul’s new CD is unique among his catalogue – he is stretching himself in some fresh new directions, The title track, however, is CLASSIC Baloche – a solid, straight forward, uber-singable corporate anthem that nearly any church that heard it would grab ahold of after one listen. It builds in such a way that, for the first time, it would make an excellent “Walk In” song, & then add it into your normal set the following week. Not only a great worship song, the production value is so high that it was my “company” when starting a 5k yesterday – a great song of hope!
“Your Kingdom Come” – Harvest Worship (featuring Joshua Sellers)
Considering how under-emphasized the “Kingdom of God” has been among Evangelicals (Jesus’ primary topic, ignored by those who claim to want to follow Him most? Odd, I know…) until very recently, I am always drawn to songs that expound on the Kingdom. Though this song isn’t an immediately “hook”, it grows on you, has excellent, Biblical lyrics, & fits firmly into today’s current “cutting edge” worship genre, so it’d likely go well at most contemporary churches. Personally, I LOVE the bridge. Maybe this would be a great “special”, for it’s introduction? Either way, a great song, by some great folks. Worth checking out!
Lastly, I’d like to risk tossing a brand new (um… unfinished?) song out there. Last year my friend Gary Durbin passed along a bit of a song he found himself a little stuck on (1 verse & a chorus), & I did a bit more re-writing than he expected, so we pulled in a 3rd writer – McKendree Augustas of August York – to have a say on it, who made a few changes, including throwing out both of our earlier attempts at a chorus & writing a whole new one, & lastly I asked our friend Bobby Gilles of Sojourn to give his input on the song, & then wrap up a 2nd verse. We ended up with a song that may be a bit different than what any of each of us along originally intended, but is a true conglomeration of our individuals styles, tastes, & themes into a corporate anthem about trusting in God’s will. I’ve used this out now three times in “concert” venues, & 4+ at various churches/ministries, & have been astounded by the response – often finding people singing along before the 2nd chorus. Below is a ROUGH demo, & chord charts – one in the original key, & one in G to use with a capo. When sung corporately, I usually drop the song from Bb to A.
What new songs have you introduced, or are you planning to introduce, to your congregation that you think we should know about? Please share!
Posted February 22nd, 2012 by admin with 1 Comment
Artist: Paul Baloche
Release: The Same Love
Highlights: “the Same Love”, “We are Saved”, “Just Say”
Paul Baloche needs no introduction, so I won’t bother. Even if you don’t recognize his name, you’ve sung his songs. I regularly use no less than 12 of Paul’s originals in corporate worship, which is significant given the number of new worship songs that flood the market daily – he is truly a masterfully gifted songwriter. What’s better, however, is the Jesus-centered heart of the man, which overflows in his lyrics & personally, for those who’ve been face-to-face with him.
That’s all to say – too be fair from the outset – I have liked Paul’s contribution to the singing church for some time. In fact, his last CD, GLORIOUS, is probably among my favorite worship CDs of all-time. You may think that means I’d be biased towards THE SAME LOVE – you would be wrong. I will explain why.
THE SAME LOVE is by no means GLORIOUS part 2 – or “part 2” to any of his prior releases – which definitely caught me off-guard at first because usually Paul’s songs sound like…well…Paul. They are consistently solid, & if you like one of his releases, chances are that you’ll like the others. Not comfortable to re-tread the same old (albeit very successful, highly impactful) ground, Paul really steps out on this one – experimenting with songwriting styles & structures often more in-line with Hillsong than his back catalogue.
In other words, if you’re a long-time fan, this one may take a few listens to adjust to, but if you’ve always wanted to give Paul’s music a chance, this would be a good place to step in.
The title track is more along the lines of what is to be expected from him: a “must sing” corporate anthem extolling the beauties of God’s great love. The lyrics are fresh & uncontrived, the melody is memorable, & the chorus hook is one you’ll find still running around your head late at night when you’re trying to sleep. It, and “We are Saved” – another personal favorite – are “classic Paul Baloche”, in the best sense of the words.
My other personal favorite, however, is almost lullaby-like in it’s subtlety. “Just Say”, a faith-filled confession of God’s ability to fix brokenness, heal sickness, & make right the wrong, reminds me more of an Innocence Mission song than anything Paul has written before. It seems to musically draw attention to open space, & quiet, as much as it does the melody itself. And the lyrics nearly move me to tears.
I was also taken by “Look upon the Lord”, though it took a few times to grow on me – a song that brings to mind Hillsong’s quieter fare, slowly buildings towards its powerful chorus.
Worship pastors who like to incorporate modern-hymnody into their services would also do well to note “All Because of the Cross”, an interesting re-write of the classic hymn “Nothing but the Blood”, and “My Hope”, a particularly catchy re-purposing of one of my old favorites, “The Solid Rock”.
Though, on a first listen, I didn’t immediately pin-point a whole collection of “must sing” songs like I did with his last, Paul is pushing forward in a few fresh, new directions here, and with repeated listening a number of excellent corporate songs rise to the surface. I’m looking forward to singing “The Same Love”, “We are Saved”, & “Just Say” in our churches soon, & anticipating many more fruitful years of Paul sharing his gift with God’s people.
Thank you for not being content to stand still, Paul.
Posted February 21st, 2012 by admin with 8 Comments
There exists so many little practical conundrums for the Worship Leader: do we aim to please God, or keep our congregation comfortable and happy – how often do we introduce new songs – to what extent to we challenge our people to respond “Biblically” in worship? That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but I’ve been pondering one of late that personally has effected me at times: the battle between performance & true, genuine, from-the-heart worship.
Everyone has at times fallen into the performance trap: you fought with your wife & kids all the way to church, sound-check is a nightmare, & key members of your team cancelled at the last minute, or simply didn’t show up…AND IT’S SHOWTIME! You want to be honest, & simply confess, “Hey guys – it’s been a hard morning“, but you did that just 2 weeks ago, & you know that’ll somehow come up in your performance review in a few weeks (“Now, you sure seem to be having a lot of hard mornings, of late – are you sure you’re still up for doing this?” – don’t even pretend it’s not true). So you fake it – you “perform”, & usually they can tell. Sometimes it feels like the only option.
But God calls us to love Him with all our emotions, mind, spiritual commitments, & energies, & we can’t honestly lead people to somewhere we aren’t going, so I have committed to press in – to dig into the songs I am singing to that place where my heart begins to naturally respond, & it begins to erupt on the outside. But there’s a problem with this, too – striving so hard to genuinely worship, pushing into God with such passion – on the outside can begin to also look like the “evil sin” (well, at least in church) of PERFORMANCE.
Two opposite responses – the same outcome.
So, you’re left with the struggle of being perceived as in-authentic & performing or too-authenitc & performing. I know the latter is better for my heart – I know that God is with me, in spite of the criticism of man, BUT is there an even better way? Another way towards authenticity & leadership that doesn’t lead to these two pitfalls?
Your turn… what do you think?
Posted February 20th, 2012 by admin with 2 Comments
My boys love to sing along with CDs, & have particularly good taste in music. We regularly get a good laugh at our little guys as they belt along with various new worship songs. This is their current favorite. Enjoy!
Posted February 7th, 2012 by admin with 5 Comments
Having spent the past 8 years in worship ministry, I’ve occasionally come upon a sermon topic that it’s straight up HARD to connect any songs to – those topics that no one wants to write about. Of course, it would’ve been great – at the time – to note all of those topics, but I didn’t. As a worship songwriter with a deep passion to equip the local church with new songs – song that at the same time are both accessible yet stretching – that connect the important things of God to the hearts of God’s people in a way that helps them to respond to Him appropriately, and helps truth “stick” – I want to dig the wells that haven’t yet been dug. I want to set my heart towards writing the hymn that hasn’t yet been written, but needs to.
So here’s your job.
Church, what song still needs to be written? Is there a glaring hole – as you see it – in our psalmody? What Scriptures really connect with you deeply, which – when you come to think of it – you’ve never sung?
I’m honestly going to use these responses to help guide me on my next steps forward – new ground to go face-to-face with God over – new areas of Scripture study – new things to pray over.
And new songs to write.
I just may pick your theme for my next one!
Your turn… respond.