Lyrically rich with a touch of classical
Length: 6 songs, 27 minutes
Label: The Fuel Music & Management
Five of six songs on Steadfast Love by Grace Worship feature a male lead and the style of the vocalists coupled with the sound of the band remind me a little of Josh Groban or Steve Green. It does get more adventuresome in places as I hear Celtic rock in the hook on “Hallelujah! Who Shall Part” and strong lead guitar work under-girding the opening title track.
This achieves somewhat of a middle ground between inspirational and contemporary making it different enough to get my attention. It leans toward the former especially after the first two tracks. It might be a little too staid for those who prefer more of a pop/rock sound. Some might not like the orchestrated elements but they enhance rather than detract. It’s like the French horn in “Penny Lane.”
What sets this apart is theologically rich lyrics. My mind immediately thought of the reformed tradition of faith. Located in Peoria, IL, this is part of Grace Presbyterian Church’s (PCA) heritage.
With an abundance of projects that have a Charismatic influence it’s refreshing to find a release with a different emphasis. These songs point to God’s sufficiency as the answer to our fallen condition. No triumphalism here! It all centers on God’s person and what he has done. It’s a relief that acceptance and hope are not based on human performance.
My guess is that many who appreciate modern worship will feel at home with the first two songs, “Steadfast Love” and “Hallelujah Who Shall Part.” The style is similar to popular releases. The songs that follow are a little more classical in nature, a reworking of old texts or new ones that have a similar structure.
Having recently read some of the poetry of George Herbert, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that “The Twenty Third Psalm” is a poem he wrote in 1633. His highly acclaimed work is worth discovering and this gives listeners the rare opportunity to hear his prose set to music.
I like being introduced to hymns that I have never heard before like “Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul,” written by Anne Steel in 1760. Matt Merker added the music in 2014.
The closing “Jesus, Do Not Look On Me” may be a little less accessible because it’s stripped-down and has hymn-like music and lyrics. What I like is that it takes listeners on a journey from guilt and shame to grace. It does so set to the tune of “Largo” by Antonin Dvorak, which is classical in nature and quite memorable.
Overall, this project follows a path similar to what Keith and Kristyn Getty have done, who are in the forefront of adding theological depth to songs and creating new hymns. It takes the best from past and present to create something new.