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. Here, I’m offering the last of my published reviews (all published during a short period in the 1990s) of worship music—music that was then being released and is still “contemporary” in broad perspective. Here is the most recent post of this specific type, in case you want to see another.
This review treats two separate albums that attempted to focus on helping people who are hurting.
Ministering in Times of Distress
1. Integrity: God Will Make a Way
2. Vineyard: WWW – Healing
(Published March 1999)
by Brian Casey
Fundamental to the notion of “ministry” is helping those in need, and these two recordings can help to fill that need—impacting souls in, or being pulled out of, spiritual holes of doubt and struggle.
“God Will Make a Way” consists entirely of previously released material. Those who naturally are drawn to Integrity’s sensibilities and polished-glass sonorities will assuredly draw strength from this repackaged music.
The lush adult choir arrangement (Fettke et al) of “Be Strong and Take Courage” (from the musical God With Us) is effective. “You Are Eternal” is a conceptually significant inclusion: Knowing that God doesn’t change is crucial if we are to trust that He is in charge and will make a way. As author Max Lucado has said, “In times when we can’t trace His hand, we can trust His heart.”
It’s a powerful connection indeed when someone communicates through song who thoroughly and earnestly believes that God will come, will enter one’s pain. God chose to enter the world’s distress as a human; His messages may yet be most powerfully expressed through His human servants. “God will make a way,” “do not lose your faith,” “no eye has seen what God has prepared,” “forget not all His benefits,” . . . when believers extend these powerful, Godly exhortations to me, I am strengthened.
Though the lyrical content is no more robust, the slightly less conventional music of Vineyard’s “Healing” is more immediately heartening, with no talk between songs. The yearning vocals on Terry Butler’s “Simple Prayer” are genuinely beautiful, but the range/tessitura might hinder congregational participation. “Faithful Love” and “Father, I Want You To Hold Me” are high points. Also noteworthy are the artistic contributions of Rita Springer—besides her writing, her vocals are expressive and believable, sometimes with a finessed, breathy edge. I found Michael Hansen’s compositions musically (not lyrically) monotonous.
It might be considered inappropriate to attempt to minister healing to individuals in dire situations (e.g., in “Mend a Broken Heart,” abused children) through congregational, publicly marketed music. Some matters seem more aptly dealt with in private.
Each recording incorporates ample, worthwhile congregational and solo music—to be used therapeutically in ministering to real individuals with real needs.
– Brian Casey, March 1999