Monday, October 29, 2007

Ideal Praise Music

Friday night I wrote a post titled Doxology. It is filled with verses about the greatness and glory and grace of God. “How great is our God” is the theme of my life right now. Almost all of my favorite praise songs and hymns have to do with this topic:

How Great is Our God
Great Is the Lord
Lord We Want to Lift Your Name on High

are only the few that have been running through my head the past couple hours.

I had an opportunity to earn $50 for taking a survey about Christian radio. My conscience wouldn’t let me return the call because I hardly ever listen to Christian radio anymore. Ravi Zacharias is good. Occasionally I’ll hit a song with good lyrics, or that is old enough that I remember it from the 90’s when contemporary Christian music was bearable. Mostly the music is noise, screams, violence-inspiring beats, or bad theology. Then we adopt them into our churches for worship songs, but that’s another post.

A dream radio station would play thoughtful, accurately biblical songs whose lyrics I can hear, and with which after a few hearings I can sing along. There would be a focus on worship songs: not “I love you, Jesus,” but “He was wounded for our transgressions.”

  1. This category praises the character of God,
  2. Praises His intervention in the world, and
  3. Thanks Him for His personal provision for me.

The other types of songs I would allow is the testimony kind (just like #3 above, but addressed to people, not to God) and prayer-songs (of confession, need, desires, excitement - like the Psalms). All should be in accordance with sound doctrine.

To tell the truth I can hardly find albums like this to buy. Even the collections of hymns by today’s artists tend to be impossible to join. The artists want to present their version on the hymn, making it special. But I do own a series of CD’s that have choirs or artists just singing the hymns. My favorite is What Wondrous Love is This, featuring Joni Eareckson Tada (she’s the singer I recognize).

If you, like me, are looking for simple hymns to remind you through your day of the greatness of the God we serve, get this collection.

To God be all glory.

9 comments:

kschaub said...

Christian radio needs to make a better effort distinguishing between music written by Christians and praise/worship music. I think they run the two together too much.

There are other things needed too. First thing, there are way too many Christian worship/praise writers. That is the only conclusion I can come up with to explain why there is too little good Christian music and too much bad Christian music. Christian record labels are awful, and control too much of what the artists can do in an effort to make them 'radio worthy.'

So what happens? The few good artists usually get cut by the record labels and begin recording 'indie' albums. Now they can sing, write, and play things without the watchful eye of the money-maker record label, but they need word-of-mouth to get their music into the hands of listeners.

Second, Christian worship/praise writers need to take a look back at the old hymn writers or the Psalms. John Newton and Isaac Watts were not only song writers, they knew their theology . . . and it was weighty, not shallow. "Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder" is a breathtaking reminder of the glory of God in the gospel. Why not learn to write like these?

Thankfully, there are a few good Christian songwriters . . . not all are worship/praise writers, but some are. Jars of Clay (although not too popular with the 'in' crowd) writes very thoughtfully (cf. 'Oh My God' from Good Monsters). Derek Webb still writes well, even though some of his newer stuff is a little 'different'. Sandra McCracken wrote a fantastic worship/hymn album, 'The Builder and the Architect'. Indelible Grace re-records hymns. Andrew Osenga is a really good songwriter . . . he writes a bunch of Caedmon's Call's stuff too. Andrew Peterson. Relient K (believe it or not). Shane and Shane.

Lisa of Longbourn said...

The hymn Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder by Newton, with which I was unfamiliar, for any other of you readers, can be found at: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/l/e/letuslov.htm

kschaub, is it easy to sing along with the albums you mentioned?
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

kschaub said...

Hey Lisa, yes! Of course, you might have to get used to singing with guys like Relient K . . .

'Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder' is a lesser known hymn by John Newton, who also wrote 'Amazing Grace.' Before he was saved, Newton was a slave trader . . . when he me William Wilberforce, he joined with him to help in the slave trade in England . . . writing in response to both who he was without Christ and who he was as a slave trader, he wrote 'Amazing Grace.' Piper wrote two biographies on Wilberforce.

Anyway, Jars of Clay released an album a few years ago, 'Redemption Songs', full of old hymns (with a Jars of Clay grass-roots sound) . . . 'Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder' is on there along with a few obscure and a few better known hymns. Easy to sing along with, beautifully written, and if you play guitar . . . they're pretty easy to play with too. Shane and Shane are fantastic singers, and most of their songs are worship/praise . . . since you're a girl, I would think you could definitely sing along with them because they've got super-high boy voices. :)

Indelible Grace does a great job putting old hymns in modern guitar-piano-like arrangements and are definitely easy to sing to. Also check out Josh Bales (joshbales.com). Think they all have myspace music accounts too. But of all these, I would certainly recommend buying any post-'eleventh hour' Jars of Clay release, 'Pages' or 'Clean' by Shane and Shane, 'The Morning' by Andrew Osenga, Indelible Grace III, Sandra McCracken's 'Builder and the Architect' (by this one first . . . listen to 'Rock of Ages' for a God-glorifying, theology rich, worshipful song), Derek Webb's 'She Must and Shall Go Free', Andrew Peterson's 'Love and Thunder'. Most of these guys are friends and help each other out on their albums. I think they're all on iTunes . . . some may be hard to find in stores. Andrew Osenga actually has a new free EP on his blog . . . andrewosenga.com

Wow, that was long.

kschaub said...

Lisa, noticed I had a couple of glaring typo(s) in that last comment. Sorry.

**William Wilberforce fought in parliament to end the British slave trade. (this one really needed to be fixed!)

kschaub said...

So, did you get a chance to listen to any of that stuff?

Lisa of Longbourn said...

My life in the past 30 hours! Aaah! I refused to even turn on my computer; it's so addicting and then I am tired the next day. Plus I had to work. So to confess, I have not listened to a one. But I will.

I'll check with my brother; he has some Jars of Clay, I think. And online will at least have samples. There's always the library, which I'm kicking myself for not checking since I was just there. And finally, there is purchasing these hard-to-find albums, when I don't go to local Christian bookstores, online.

Thanks for checking.
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

kschaub said...

Lisa, if you want one to check out . . . let me know and I'll send you a copy.

Email me: schaubk@gmail.com

P.S. It will be a legal copy. :)

Lisa of Longbourn said...

Sandra McCracken - very good. She'll let you listen to her songs, too! I want this cd; have to save money. http://www.igracemusic.com/sandrahymns/

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

Lisa of Longbourn said...

I will get a couple Jars of Clay CD's from the library.

Derek Webb has really good lyrics, but I'd have to be in the right mood for that style of music.

Sandra McCracken, as I said, was very impressive.

Indelible Grace III did not have any samples available online.

Shane & Shane were ok, with music like Derek Webb's.

Andrew Osenga sounded sad, and I couldn't find a lot of praise music.

Andrew Peterson has a good acoustic sound and imaginative: lyrics, song titles, and album titles for that matter.

Josh Bales had fun music, but I couldn't access samples of praise music.

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn