Wednesday, June 14, 2006

CD Review: Worship God LIVE at Covenant Life Church

This CD review comes through the courtesy of Bob Kauflin and his blog Worship Matters

I've been using Sovereign Grace Music in my ministry since 2002 and have enjoyed the passion and precision that their songwriters employ in leading us to the throne of Grace. They consistently achieve "modern hymnwriter" quality lyrics and music. This is a compliment that applies to the work of Altrogge, Cook, Kauflin under the Sovereign Grace Umbrella as well as to the work of Keith Getty ("In Christ Alone") and Stuart Townend ("How Deep the Father's Love for Us").

This Live CD captures the joy and depth of the doctrines of sovereign grace. They carry on the excellent tradition of Isaac Watts and William Cowper on this CD through Mark Altrogge's modernization of "O God, Our Help in Ages Past" with added chorus and Bob Kauflin's adaption of Cowper's "God Moves (in a Mysterious Way)." What this former and now current generation of Reformed hymwriters capture is the bold and powerful majesty of God's sovereign grace and how we experience that as his tender care. They capture lyrically and musically the ebullient joy of being helped by his might ("O God, Our Help") and the tender, mellow confidence of knowing God's providential work as we struggle to trust the one we can't see. "God is his own interpreter" into things we cannot understand through "feeble sense" as we seek his "smiling face" behind a "frowning providence."

One thing about the style and delivery on this CD that took some adjustment for these Presbyterian ears was their obedience to the biblical command to "raise a shout" to the Lord. As I reflected on this, and through Kauflin's series on physical expressiveness on his blog, I have seen how our staid worship might be less biblical (in the Psalms sense) than the worship we listen in on through this CD. At the close of several songs there are periods of what I might call "vocal riffing" on God's goodness. If doing this on instruments is legitimate, then why not riff on God's attributes and glory which we can't fully exhaust through syllogism or exposition. Sometimes only a shout will do! Failure to do so might stem more from fear of man or sociological pressure rather than strong, biblical grounding. For as much as we trot out our Regulative Principle, it can never substitute for the biblical worship that is regulated by the joy of the Gospel!! These "charismatic Calvinists" have something to teach us "catatonic Calvinists!"

In an age of Emerging and PoMO revisions of the ancient faith, it's refreshing to hear the "good old words" come out in vibrant, rocking songs of praise: sinful, impure, pardon, sinners clothed in the righteousness of Christ, grace irresistible (!), iniquities, deserved your judgement. The jewel of the Gospel is joyfully spread across the black velvet backdrop of our sin, idolatry, lust and rebellion against this glorious God. If Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield were into electric guitars and drums, they might fit right into the worship leadership team of Bob Kauflin and Pat Sczebel.

With new songwriters introduced through this CD (Stephen Altrogge, JonRyan Baird, Rich Dalmas, Adam Sacks) Sovereign Grace Music will continue to be a reforming and refreshing influence in the worship music world for years to come (Lord willing and if he tarries!). Buy the CD or put it on your iPod and find your faith renewed and joy restored.

Thank you Sovereign Lord for these gifted men and women and their contribution to our understanding in enjoying all you've done and planned for us!!! Thank you Sovereign Grace for this fine work of art and service to the King and Kingdom.

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