Saturday, June 17, 2006

Worship God Live: The Review

In 2005 Covenant Life Church hosted two evenings of worship to record their recent project Worship God Live. I thank Bob Kauflin and the team at Sovereign Grace Ministries for the opportunity to review this CD.

I would like to start this review commenting that I deeply respect the vision behind the Worship Ministry and this project at Sovereign Grace Ministries. This kind of project represents a desire in many to awaken mindful affections for God that will take the contemporary listener to new levels of appreciation for the boundless riches we find in His grace. As stated in a recent post, I have a deep desire for contemporary songwriters to begin writing songs that combine substantive theological thought with skillful poetic lyric. I applaud the effort that went into this CD toward the accomplishment of this goal.

The musicianship and recording quality on this project was fantastic. It is wonderful hearing so many excellent musicians dedicating themselves to playing for the glory of God. As in past projects by this ministry, there were some very creative nuances that made many of the songs sound fresh and original.

Though this project excelled in many ways, I was surprised that as a live recording it didn’t sound more “live.” There were moments you could hear congregation participating with singing or clapping but these moments were minimal and drown out by a predominant vocal team sound that was excellent, but also somewhat stylistically dated. A thinner vocal texture with more audible live congregational participation may have given this CD an air of authenticity that would have made it more relevant to a broader audience.

Some of the songs also sounded a bit too “happy” or “sing-songy” for my taste. The problem with this musical feel in a song is that it can risk sounding artificial and fake to believers and unbelievers alike. This is especially problematic when we observe that the call to faith in Christ is often a call to suffer. When in the midst of suffering people want to celebrate, but they want to do it in the context of joyful melodies, not “happy” ones.

Despite these concerns, this recording blessed me. In preparation for this review I spent a lot of time listening to the CD and it lead to several meaningful moments of worship. This recording will undoubtedly be a great resource for many churches across the nation and around the world. Though some of the stylistic characteristics may inhibit it’s influence and acceptance in certain arenas, it is certainly a project that God has and will continue to use to edify the church and bring glory to His name.

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