CD Review: You and You Alone

6 03 2008

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I recently took up the offer to receive a (free) copy of Pat and Joel Sczebel’s newest cd in exchange for agreeing to offer a public review of it here on Grace Church’s blog.

Because the Sczebel’s are worshipers of the One True God and great musicians, and because I’ve never done a public review of anything before, I definitely got the better end of this deal! (FYI: Bob Kauflin has already done a better review than me!!).

Since my task is to review the cd, I’ll post my review first, and save some personal thoughts about ‘worship’ for the bottom.

WHOOPS! I FORGOT TO MENTION ON THE FRONT-END OF THIS DEAL THAT I DON’T KNOW HOW TO REVIEW A WORSHIP CD?

There’s one small problem. I’m not sure how to review a worship cd? Seems to me that a worship cd should be reviewed on the basis of whether or not it is biblically agreeable to our God-given obligation to worship God in response to His revelation of Himself in Scripture?

Therefore my best guess for how to proceed with the review is to listen carefully to each song and try to discern if I can “worshipfully agree” with the song because it gives a lyrical expression to biblical truth.

Whelp, here we go…

Song #1: Trust in You

The first song is kind of peppy, and packed with great truth. Specifically, when speaking to God, the song repeats, “You reign forever.” Worshipfully agreed. Agreed. Agreed. Agreed. Agreed. Agreed. Agreed.

Song #2: Over All

This song naturally follows the first because it declares the “arena” in which God reigns—all arenas (including difficult ones). The focus is primarily that “none can thwart God’s plan because He is ‘over all’ as ‘Sovereign Lord.'” Worshipfully agreed.

Song #3: Yesterday, Today, and Forever

Because Christ is immutable, this song expresses the truth that nothing can separate us from God’s love. The thing I like about it this song is that biblical theology leads to expressive doxology. Worshipfully agreed.

Song #4: The Greatest of All

Is a song about Christ’s redeeming work. The (Fanny Crosby) chorus is familiar to most:

Redeemed how I love to proclaim it
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Redeemed through your infinite mercy
Your child, and forever, I am

This is probably my favorite song on the cd. Worshipfully agreed.

Song #5: In You

The song focuses on resting in Christ and all of the eternal benefits that are found there. More electric guitar, but not ‘rockish.’ Does a good job of not allowing the music to take away from the lyrics, but rather to assist in focusing on them.

I would encourage those who cling to Jesus, but fight for assurance, to listen to this song as a way to enable your soul’s appeal to God. Worshipfully agreed.

Song #6: I Surrender All

Not the familiar hymn, but similar in theme. This song is a good example of responding appropriately in faith to God. Worshipfully agreed.

Song #7: You are Good

Kind of a slow methodical song. It helps the careful listener to affirm the never-ending (never ever ever ending) mercy of God. Worshipfully agreed.

Song #8: Lord, You Are Gracious

Do you think often of the fact that Christ was punished by God for what YOU deserved? The more often you do, the more often your contemplations will catapult you into God-pleasing worship. This song is totally about such thoughts. Worshipfully agreed.

Song #9: You Alone

Because of the music, the words of this song are difficult for me to hear (and I’m only 30). Joel’s voice is too ‘breathy’ for me to catch much of what’s being said, even with a close listen.

Song #10: Jesus, You Are Beautiful

This song is sung directly to Jesus, and revels in His beauty. It is accompanied by the piano, and has a slow passionate feel. The song’s ground for “arguing” that Christ is beautiful is His love for us. This is something we should each think about, and worship because of, more. It is Christ’s love for us that displays His beauty to us. He’s beautiful anyway. We see His beauty because of His love. Worshipfully agreed.

Song #11: I Surrender All (Reprise)

The cd ends with a version of “I Surrender All” that is not like the familiar tune, or #6 above.

If I have had a main “beef” with contemporary worship music it has been that I’ve felt that it often lends itself toward encouraging “mindless repetition.” Christ is not honored when we don’t think about what we are saying to God. This song doesn’t give the feel that the Sczebel’s are guilty of this sort of mind-numbing repetition (and they do a good job of brevity in each of their songs w/o repeating lines in an unhelpful way). Nor do I get the sense they would hope for anyone else to repeat their songs as mantra. With that warning in mind, I have been helped to live “open-handed” for God by singing this final reprise again and again! Worshipfully agreed.

REVIEWED?

Well, I’m not sure I accomplished my task very well? I’d recommend that you get a copy of this cd for yourself. If you do, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

(Pat, thanks for the cd!)


EXTRA THOUGHTS ABOUT WORSHIP

WORSHIP GOD BECAUSE YOU ARE A WORSHIPER

Everyone worships. You are created to worship, and you are commanded to worship. You were designed to worship God, your Creator, and you have been demanded to do so. Anything less is idolatrous…and unsatisfying.

Part of the best news in all the world is that God wants us to worship Him. The other part of the best news is that God has made a way for sinners (like you and I) to worship Him without filthying up His glory. The Way, amazingly, is through the death and resurrection of His only Son! Jesus died for us. Jesus died for us. Jesus died for us. Jesus died for us. And through His resurrection from the dead, Jesus proved that He can save us and sanctify (clean up) our worship. He is alive and He is enough!

Our worship is never to be separated from Jesus. Attempting to approach God apart from Christ is damnably dangerous. Humbly worshiping Him through Christ is deeply satisfying. After all, that’s what you were created for!

This cd focuses much on Christ, His work, and His worth. For that, I am glad to commend it as a helpful worship tool.

MUSIC MIGHT HELP YOU WORSHIP GOD, SO USE IT AS A HELP

Like a car that takes us where we want to go, sometimes music helps us worship God. Sometimes, like a car that breaks down on the way to our destination, music hinders us from worshiping God. At best, music is a vehicle that aids our worship of God.

The most important thing about a worship song is the lyrics. If they are a biblically sound expression of truth, then the song has potential for being helpful. The other important aspect is that the music fits the lyrics in a way that helps us worshipfully contemplate the truth of the lyrics.

If a worship cd is laced with lyrics that are biblically sound, and the music “fits” the lyrics, then the cd is helpful. If the music is either too loud, or disjoined from the lyrics of the song, then I wouldn’t consider that cd to be very helpful.

The Sczebel’s have done an admirable job of creating tunes that ‘fit’ the lyrics. More importantly, they have written lyrics that have risen from saturation in the truth.

In short, worship God, not music. I mention that because there are some people who worship music, not God.

The only vehicle that is necessary for us to worship God is Jesus (with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit)! But, because Jesus IS GOD, He is the end as well as the means. “Worship CD’s” are a good reminder for us to ask ourselves, “Can I worship without music?” I hope so. Music often helps us worship the Lord and that’s a good thing. When it helps, use it. When it doesn’t, learn why, and lay it aside.

God sent His only Son to die for sinners, and to rise again that they may be justified. Apart from Christ, there is no access to God. It makes a mockery of Christ’s death and resurrection to attempt to approach God apart from Christ (even if you have great music in tow). Beware, God does not accept those who mock His Son. Rejoice, Jesus has opened access for you to worship God without being damned for doing so!

I mention this here not because the Szcebel’s cd has given my any pause, but because I feel that they would heartily amen my plea.

Be a worshiper…of God…through Christ. Use music when it helps.

FOR AIDING YOUR WORSHIP OF GOD, ‘YOU AND YOU ALONE’ IS HELPFUL

We worship. Always. The question is do we worship God?

The Sczebel’s cd is helpful as an aid for worship because they are worshipers of the One True God, through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. In a sentence, there’s my review of the cd. The cd is helpful as an aid to worship because worship has more to do with who we are than what we do. I sense that the Sczebel’s are worshipers.

Each of the eleven songs on the cd represent something essential about worship. The essential for worship is that real worship is for God through Christ (and we are deeply satisfied when we worship Him).

The Sczebel’s don’t seem to be impressed with themselves, or their music, but rather with Jesus Who has saved them, and enabled them to worship Him. My feeling is that their music is secondary to their life’s aim: which is to worship God. That makes for a helpful “worship” cd. (And they are good musicians too).

My guess is that You and You Alone is genuinely an overflow of what the Szcebel’s life is about (“Overflow” is part of the subtitle of the cd; “Overflow 5”).

“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name.”

Every blessing,
jordan t.

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