This is an installment in the periodic Monday Worship Music series which looks at hymns and other topics related to worship music of the church. Other, related posts are here. Today, I’m offering another of my past reviews of worship music.
For the first time, I’m actually a little embarrassed at some of the writing below. For one thing, I would now completely disavow any support of the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship.
Very recently, a group worship experience reminded me, somewhat painfully, of the disconnect I now perpetually feel in large worship gatherings. Those who lead people in worship say (sometimes, better and more smoothly) the things I used to say, so I can recall and rehearse the wordings . . . but there is little resonance in me. I try to sing to the God in Whom I believe, but I am distracted by amplification issues, by incoherence in the PowerPoint lyrics, and by the lack of music notation that renders me mute [unless I happen to know the song and there are no real variances in the way this church sings it].
Much more significant than the above: I feel the weight of inertia in my soul—weight that keeps me from being glad or celebratory, and from singing with any gusto, although I remain convicted that God is, and that God loves. A portion of this feeling could be resolved if group worship leaders weren’t all given to upbeat moods and positive affirmations—an affect or mode that seems to be so very natural and fluent for them, but not for me. I don’t fault them, really, because I was one of them. Back then, I also felt it incumbent on me to be gregarious, positive, and upbeat. Now, I feel like the “bad” side of a disjunction that’s been written in order to point up the gaps between the temporal, ultimately lacking aspects of this life and the wonders of the next.
These days, instead of kowtowing to the blithely happy celebration breezes that prevail, I’d rather be one who identifies with the struggling, the tenuous, and the downcast. I am not one of those all the time, but I have been, and I think that connecting with them is just as important as connecting with, and further encouraging, the upbeat ones among us.
While I often long for the way I used to be, I don’t feel that, exactly, when I read this review I wrote more than 17 years ago. I might’ve been striving to say something I thought was cool at the time, and I’m a little embarrassed now at a few lines.
Catch the Fire 4
Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship
Rejoice Publishing & Productions (KLE TOI Records)
Published Jan. 1998
by Brian Casey
This live album is full of rambunctious revelry and unrestrained expressions, so get ready to strip off your inhibitions and stretch (both literally and figuratively) for the Lord.
Even the titles “There’s Joy,” “Great Big God,” and “I Will Dance, I Will Sing” reveal the ecstatic rejoicing found here in abundance. We don’t hear enough of the congregation’s jubilant, responsive enthusiasm on “Who Paints the Skies,” but it is nevertheless energetic, extravagant praise. A gritty rendition of Darrell Evans’s “New Song Arisin’” contains hints of fusion jazz-rock.
You’ll be caught up in the lyrical drive of “The Son of Man Appears.” During an interlude, worship leader Jeremy Sinnott prophesies dramatically of the moment at which Jesus’ awestruck saints will thrill at His appearing. It makes one want to call out, “Marana tha!”
Noel and Tricia Richards’s tender “You Are My Passion,” my favorite, will subdue even the most ecstatic worshipper into devoted desire for intimacy with God and His surpassing love:
Now will You draw me close to You?
Gather me in Your arms.
Let me hear the beating of Your heart.
I could hardly resist opening my hands to God while alone with “In the Blessing,” a sweet song of surrender. Its gorgeous, glassy-still musical landscape complements the lyrics exquisitely — depicting a life of worshipful repose in the Redeemer. This is singable worship.
If you’re looking for solemn reflection and rational, meditative reverence, you may not find enough, though the soft-rock “Your Ways Are Much Higher” fits that bill. There’s a bit more of the uproarious, gleeful variety here. The Body of Christ doesn’t always need the utmost in profundity, though; sometimes we should splurge a little—thankfully and victoriously basking in the fiery glow of God.