The Friendship And The Fear
One of the most influential movements amongst young British Christians
is "Soul Survivor." It originally grew out of a popular charismatic evangelical
conference called "New Wine," but Soul Survivor has now established its
own festival, youth church, celebration events, and magazine, and has a
strong reputation for worship music. Matt Redman is the main worship leader
involved with the Soul Survivor organisation and has quickly established
himself alongside Kendrick et al. as one of the most respected worship
songwriters of modern times.
Lyrically this album contains a strong theme of striving for holiness alongside the expected songs of adoration and commitment. The songwriting is a real step up from some of Matt's older material, with a refreshing honesty:
Lord, like the first time,
I need to get the fire back,
You are my first love.
The embers still remain,
But, Lord, I miss the flame.
I need to get the fire back.
(from "I Need to Get the Fire Back")
You became nothing, poured out to death.
Many times I've wondered
At your gift of life,
And I'm in that place once again,
I'm in that place once again.
There are two things I have found;
You O Lord are ever loving,
You O Lord are ever strong.
I am longing to discover
Both the closeness and the awe,
Feel the nearness of your whisper,
Hear the glory of your roar
By James Stewart
The latest in a growing number of UK based artists to get distribution in the US CCM market recently is acclaimed worship leader and songwriter Matt Redman. This album shares its name with his most recent UK release, but the track listing is somewhat different, combining songs from the UK release and an earlier album, Passion for Your Name.
Musically, the songs here fit together pretty well--they are all fairly mellow, with Matt's husky vocals prominent. There is a definite early U2 influence, which crops up strongly in places with a number of delayed guitar sounds and harmonics. Overall, the sound is fairly middle of theroad, but thankfully retains creativity despite this.
Having heard Matt's UK releases gives me a slightly strange perspective
on this, and I was interested to hear how tracks from Passion for Your
Name and The Friendship and the Fear worked together, given
that the two UK releases have quite different sounds. I'm not quite
sure that "The Cross Has Said It All" fits too well - it's a good song,
but is more upbeat (with slightly funky, wah-pedal driven guitar in places),
and I would prefer that the two final tracks were switched round ("Better
Is One Day" and
The theme of striving for holiness remains from the UK release, but with a few other songs that look in wonder at the cross ("The Cross Has Said It All" and "Once Again" spring to mind), and a longing for widespread revival. "It's Rising Up" falls into the latter camp and seemed (to me at least) to become an anthem for 1996 when it was released--a mainstay at most UK youth events and summing up the feelings common at the time that revival is imminent. Those feelings remain in some groups, but I have come to realize that perhaps it became something of an unhealthy obsession for some--revival would be great, but we can't demand it of God. The song remains a heart stirring anthem, although I do prefer it live:
From north to south and east to west
The cry of hearts that love your name
Which with one voice, we will proclaim.
The former things have taken place
Can this be the new day of praise?
A heavenly song, which comes to birth
And reaches out to all the earth?
A song from Passion for Your Name which certainly ranks among the best Matt has written is "I Will Offer Up Your Life." The lyrics are simple but heartfelt, and it is given a sympathetic arrangement, building up as it goes on:
In spirit and truth
Pouring out the oil of love
As my worship to you.
In surrender I must give
My every part,
Lord receive the sacrifice of a broken heart.
By James Stewart