Music Monday 01.26.15

“Sinking Deep” Hillsong Young and Free

Over MLK Day weekend, I took my middle school youth on a ski retreat up to Lake Junaluska in North Carolina. It’s hosted by the UMC camp and conference center up there with a guest speaker, a worship band, games, and, of course, skiing. We closed each day with a corporate worship service for the entire group. The guest band leading worship for the weekend ended the service every night with this song.

When I heard it the first night, I thought it might an original song of theirs as I had never heard it before and I consider myself reasonably knowledgable about worship music. I did a little research care of Google and Spotify and found out that it was actually written and recorded by Hillsong Young and Free a little over a year ago.

I was enamored with the song. I couldn’t stop playing it. I looped it over and over taking in every word and every note. I dwelled on the lyrics.

“Sinking deep in mercy’s seas”

“Your love so deep is washing over me”

I like the allusion that God’s grace/mercy/love is so vast, so overwhelming, that we can’t possibly contain it. It’s such a force that we can do nothing but sink deeply into it, be completely overtaken by it. It’s immovable, it’s immeasurable, it’s incredible, and it’s yours for the taking.

 

I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Music Monday, feel free to follow it along with the posts.

Music Monday 01.12.15

“Future/Past” John Mark McMillan

I traveled quite a bit during the holidays so I decided to take a break from the Music Monday posts as I focused on visiting with friends and family. The holidays are now over and 2015 is well underway. As I was deciding on which song I felt led to begin the year in this series, I found myself reflecting on another blog I’m working on right now. Thinking about that led me to this song that was introduced to me late last year. I love most of John Mark McMillan’s worship songs (“How He Loves” is my favorite) and this one was no exception. To me, the lyrics are a simple way of praising the beauty of how intertwined God is with our lives. Everything that happened/is happening/will happen to me last year, the year before, this year, next year, etc… it’s all connected to my relationship with Christ. He is my most powerful yet loving and tender relationship. He is my friend, He is my first, He is my last. Here is to a 2015 where I allow Him to be my future and my past.

 

I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Music Monday, feel free to follow it along with the posts.

Music Monday 12.21.14

“O Holy Night” Adolphe Adam

I’m a little obsessed with this song and I think it speaks for itself as to why it is and always will be my favorite Christmas song. Here are a few of my favorite arrangements.

 

I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Music Monday, feel free to follow it along with the posts.

Music Monday 12.01.14

“How He Loves” by John Mark McMillan (performed by David Crowder Band)

If you’ve ever seen or heard me lead worship or just know anything about me as a worship leader, you’re probably surprised that I’m just now sharing this song…in other words, I use this song a lot. Why? Because I love it. I think it’s one of the most powerful worship songs ever written, on par with “Shout to the Lord”, “Awesome God”, and “Oceans”.

The music is great but what really gets me are the lyrics. You spend the entire song dwelling on how much He loves each and every one of us. My two favorite lines from the song are incredible representations of just how much He loves us.

He is jealous for me

Jealous is such a powerful word that typically carries a negative connotation. Here it’s meant to express how badly God desire to have your attention. He doesn’t just want it, he’s jealous for it. He’s jealous for you. I had never really thought of it before. Scripturally, we know that God is jealous God, it’s plainly written down for us, but it’s something that hadn’t really dawned on me until I sang it. He doesn’t just love me, He’s jealous for me.

If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking

Some scientists have suggested that we know less about the deepest parts of the ocean than we do about space, that’s how deep and vast the ocean is. McMillan compares God’s grace to the ocean and I think that’s about as close as we can get to describing the vast mystery that is God’s grace (and it’s still not even close to being enough). His grace and His mercy and His love for us is so vast that we’re drowning in it, it’s inescapable. That thought just makes me smile every time I sing this.

How fortunate we are to have a God that loves us like He does. As undeserving as we are and as much as we try to reciprocate we simply can’t because we can’t begin to fathom His love.

(Side note: I’m a “unforeseen kiss” kind of guy.)

 

I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Music Monday, feel free to follow it along with the posts.

Music Monday 11.17.14

“Lux Aurumque” by Eric Whitacre (performed by the Westminster Cathedral Choir)

I loved being a member of the University of Montevallo Concert Choir. I have many fond memories singing with this ensemble and built many friendships through my participation in this group. During my first semester, we sang what has become one of my favorite choral Christmas pieces, Lux Aurumque. It was the third time I’d ever sung an Eric Whitacre piece and he’d already been a favorite composer of mine before then. The text, the music, the phrasing…combine it with some signature Eric Whitacre cluster chords and it’s a hauntingly beautiful way to capture the spirit of Christmas. I know that not everyone is a fan of “classical” or choral music, but I don’t know how someone can not be mesmerized when listening to this piece.

Lux,
Calida gravisque pura velut aurum
Et canunt angeli molliter
modo natum.

Light,
warm and heavy as pure gold
and angels sing softly
to the new-born babe.

 

I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Music Monday, feel free to follow it along with the posts.

A Different Kind of Gift

I really enjoy giving gifts. There’s something exciting to me about picking out a gift for someone and giving it to them to celebrate a holiday, commemorate an occasion, or just brighten their day. That’s just another reason Christmas is exciting to me. (Side note: I feel like all my recent and near future posts are about Christmas but meh, ’tis the season). I spend a good deal of time thinking about the gifts I give in hopes that they will be wanted, practical, and appreciated.

I try to take the same approach when people ask me what I want for Christmas. A few days ago, as I was thinking about who I was buying for this year, what I was buying them, and what I wanted, I was shown a video for an organization called Advent Conspiracy.

Numbers can be very shocking…and the fact that Americans spend $450 billion a year on the holiday season is hard to swallow even without taking into consideration the fact that $10 billion would solve the worlds water crisis. Here’s another shocking fact: that video was made in 2008…it is currently estimated that Americans spend close to $601 billion on the holidays. $601,000,000,000.

There is another organization called Sole Hope. Sole Hope was founded by friends of a friend to provide shoes for children in Uganda who otherwise wouldn’t own a pair. Not only do they have to walk around barefoot in rocky dirt, they have to encounter jiggers that live in that dirt (Jiggers, not chiggers). It only costs $10 to provide a pair of shoes for child. $10. I own a pair of Cole Haan wingtips, they are my favorite shoes and they cost $250. The cost of those one pair of shoes could literally put shoes on the feet of 25 children.

Now, this is not meant to be a guilt trip. I don’t feel bad for owning my Cole Haans, I don’t feel bad for buying Christmas gifts for my loved ones and I certainly don’t want you to feel bad for it either. My goal is not to get you to give up everything for Christmas and give all your money to solve the world water crisis or put shoes on the entire continent of Africa. However, imagine with me for a second what could happen if we just cut back. Instead of spending $100 on a Christmas present, we spent $50 and then gave $50 to Advent Conspiracy. Instead of spending $1000 on Black Friday, we spent $500 and gave $500 to Sole Hope.

I’ve decided to cut back on my gift giving and holiday spending this year and I’m asking anyone intending to buy me a present, to donate instead. I’ve chosen Advent Conspiracy and Sole Hope for my own purposes but you can donate to whatever cause you see fit to be best served with your money. For every dollar I spend on a Christmas present, I’ve chosen to put $2 towards one of these two charities. I live within a budget as do most people so I simply can’t spend what I might normally spend on presents, I have to cut back…but it’s something I believe can make a difference.

I don’t know, maybe I’m naive, maybe I’m too hopeful, but there is something incredible about the idea that I can make a difference just by cutting back. If we’re just willing to adjust our lives slightly, together we can change someones life.

 

Make a difference by donating to Advent Conspiracy or Sole Hope.

Music Monday 11.03.14

“Born is the King (It’s Christmas)” by Hillsong Worship

If you know me at all, you know that “Christmas is my favorite” just like Buddy the Elf. That’s why I start listening to Christmas music in October every year…and that’s just for my own personal pleasure. When I was directing choirs, I started listening in August to make our Christmas concert and Advent service selections.

I indulge the fact that most people aren’t quite as in to Christmas as me so I don’t make a big deal about my listening to the music until after Halloween but I simply can’t wait until after Thanksgiving like so many people request.

I first heard this song a couple years ago. The first thing I like about it is that it’s a contemporary Christmas worship song, those are few and far between. What I like most about it is that it’s upbeat and reflects the beauty of this season…the idea that we serve a God who loves us so much that he would come down and take on human form to save us from ourselves. Christmas is celebratory because it’s a time for us to reflect on why we even have a reason to celebrate in the first place.

“Goodwill to all the earth
And peace divine
All of the earth rejoice
It’s Christmas time”

 

I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Music Monday, feel free to follow it along with the posts.

Music Monday 10.20.14

“Forever Reign” by Hillsong Worship

Good. Love. Light. Hope. Peace. True. Joy. Life. More. Lord. Here. God.

One of the biggest reasons I love this song is how it talks about all of the ways God is and wants to be to us. Listed above are all words which are used in this song to describe who God. He is good, He is love, He is light, hope, peace, true, joy, life, Lord, here, and God…but the word that stands out most to me is more. He is “more than my words will ever say”.

Despite all of these being great ways to describe our heavenly Father, we can never adequately capture the depths of His love and affection for us. We can never fully understand or explain exactly who He is to us and what we mean to Him. The best part is that we don’t have to understand, explain, or describe Him completely. Our best is never truly good enough but it’s all He asks of us. All He wants is for us to run to His arms.

 

I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Music Monday, feel free to follow it along with the posts.

Music Monday 10.06.14

“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”

I think it would be impossible to have a blog series talking about worship music and not include this song. It’s easily one of the most popular worship songs out right now and I have yet to meet someone who isn’t moved by it’s lyrics or music.

This song is all about faith in dark times, something which obviously speaks to me more than usual right now. I love the whole theme of being called into dark places, being called into hard times yet taking comfort in the fact that we can rely on Him. Nothing from the lyrics stands out to me more than “You’ve never failed and you won’t start now”. It’s just so refreshing to hear and/or sing those words about God’s faithfulness.

Everyone knows the original version sung by Taya Smith of Hillsong. Because she sings it so powerfully, I’ve always thought of this song as “females only”…that was until a month ago when I discovered Shane and Shane’s cover. It’s got a totally different vibe to it, much more acoustic and male lead vocals, but it’s every bit as powerful. I’ve included both the original and the Shane and Shane cover below.

 

 

 

I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Music Monday, feel free to follow it along with the posts.

Music Monday 9.29.14

“You Make Me Brave” by Amanda Cook/Bethel Worship

This is one of those songs that really hits me hard right now in my life. It’s a rocky time in my life where I feel like I’m not really on settled ground. I’ve experienced a lot of change and it’s taken a lot of trust on my part. I read Psalm 16:1 almost every day right now especially because I know I couldn’t do most of what I do without knowing that God is right there making me brave.

 

I’ve created a playlist on Spotify featuring all the songs from Music Monday, feel free to follow it along with the posts.