Sunday, February 16, 2014

I'm listening to Christian music?

On the Equip Book Club blog this month I’m reviewing Grace Has Come from Sovereign Grace ministries. It is a CD of 13 songs that attempt to capture the big ideas and biblical truths that we find in the book of Romans. In my last post, I confessed to never listening to Christian music outside of church and that this review would also be a personal experiment – could my perspective be changed?

When it comes to musical style I’m going to say straight up, it’s not really my cup of tea. I know what kind of music I like listening to. It’s not this. But it would be misguided to buy a Christian CD solely for a preferred music style. I wouldn’t buy this because it appeals to my musical taste, but I would buy it and recommend others to buy it because words are of far greater importance and the lyrics of each song are Christ centred and gospel focused. I particularly liked that the accompanying booklet (free to download) lists not only the lyrics, but also the specific verses that each song references. I am unsure if that is the norm for Christian CDs – but I think it is very helpful and invites us to read along as we listen and I’m sure it is a useful teaching tool. While there is no substitute for personal Bible reading, music is powerful for helping us to understand and remember big themes and key parts of the bible (I swear everything I know is built on a steady diet of Colin Buchanan kids CDs in my formative years…).

‘The Gospel was Promised’, ‘Grace and Peace’ and ‘Almighty Maker’, the first three songs of the CD, provide us with our introduction to Romans. We sing verses 1-7 of chapter 1 almost verbatim in the first song, while ‘Grace and peace’ is based solely on verse 7. Interesting, I thought. Why just the one verse?

Grace and peace, oh how can this be?
The matchless King of all
Paid the blood price for me

And I realized that it cost God dearly for Paul to be able to greet the Romans with grace and peace on his behalf. They were words I had read and taken for granted many times. And 'Almighty Maker' – this is actually the exception, the favourite. I sing it to myself and imagine singing along to it with my congregation (yeah, I just said that). It’s all out praise and wonder at the God who creates and sustains all things. There are many songs for that purpose, but I’d rather sing this one than ‘Indescribable’.

Next week I’ll delve more into the album and what it teaches. In the meantime, I’m happy to report that I’m enjoying this and thinking a lot more about music in the Christian life. I was in a group this week that was asked to storyboard the first four chapters of the book of Luke. The thing that struck me the most was how extraordinarily musical the announcement of the coming of Christ was. Songs of praise preface the birth of Jesus: Mary and Zechariah are filled with the Holy Spirit and they sing - joyously. Music is indeed a gift from God and it moves people so acutely, I think, because it is the language of praise and its purpose, as with all things, is to glorify him. It would be a poverty to confine my enjoyment of music to all things secular. I’m working on it.

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