|Music Inspired by The Story | Posted September 26, 2011
I’ve been a major devotee of God’s Word and Christian music for the past sixteen years, starting with the debut album by Jars of Clay, Jesus Freak by DC Talk and Take Me To Your Leader by Newsboys. I credit the biblical messages behind my favorite songs in Christian music for leading me to seek Jesus and I accepted Him as my personal Savior in 1999. In 1998, a new artist emerged on the Christian music scene who completely captivated me with her stellar debut, and her songs “To Know You,” “River God” and “Why” won me over to Nichole Nordeman’s infectious vocals and vulnerable and penetrating songs. For the past five years as a Christian music reviewer, I’ve fallen deeper in love with my Savior by studying His Word in conjunction with my favorite songs in Christian music including writing weekly ‘behind the song’ devotionals. I couldn’t ask for a more perfect combination of my loves to intertwine than to have a two disc compilation featuring twenty-four artists and eighteen songs inspired directly from The Bible called Music Inspired by The Story. All of the artists I’ve mentioned appear on the album, Dan Haseltine from Jars of Clay, Michael Tait originally from DC Talk and Peter Furler from Newsboys along with a welcome return from my favorite female vocalist, Nichole Nordeman, who incredibly wrote the lyrics to all eighteen songs. What’s especially remarkable is how she’s captured the essence of these biblical characters by writing songs in the first person, starting from Matthew West (Adam) and Leigh Nash (Eve) singing “Good” from the pages of Genesis through Michael W. Smith and Darlene Zschech reprising God’s Story in “The Great Day” right from the pages of Revelation as they sing about The Second Coming.
The project was built on the foundation of Zondervan’s Bible, The Story along with Max Lucado’s God’s Story Your Story and Randy Frazee’s The Heart of the Story. Nordeman immersed herself in those books and wrote these songs that all poignantly address the key characteristics of their personalities. Bernie Herms wrote music to match the lyrics and each song is work of art. “Who But You” features Casting Crowns’ Mark Hall (Abraham) and Megan Garrett (Sarah) portraying the faithfulness of expectant parents who need to fully rely on God to deliver their promised child Isaac and I get welled up as I worship along with them, “I see a star, You see a galaxy as just one way that these arms will not stay empty…Who but You would ever choose to dream Your dream in me?, Tell me who but You would dare me to believe what I can’t see, who but You?” It has a Casting Crowns musical vibe, including gorgeous strings, and it fits perfectly into their catalog of prayerful songs. The Story of redemption is that God uses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and He longs for our faithfulness despite our failures. Abraham and Sarah are listed in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11:13—“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.” Amen. That’s our call as Christians today, ‘to walk by faith and not by sight’ and remember that we weren’t made for this world. Another song that reflects that faithfulness is the ultra-catchy “Bring Us Home” featuring Michael Tait from Newsboys bringing his signature powerful vocals as Joshua, backed up by Group 1 Crew’s Blanca Callahan and a stellar rap vocal by Lecrae portraying the Truth of Hebrews 11:30—“By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.” The song tingles my spine and I get goose bumps when these three ultra-talented vocalists blend together. “I’m With You” literally wrecks me as two of Christian music’s most respected female vocalists Nichole Nordeman and Amy Grant blend harmoniously a beautiful depiction of faithfulness with stirring lyrics right from Ruth 1:16—“But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”
Some other moments that stop me in my tracks are found in three more of my favorite biblical characters, David, Mary and Paul, all flawlessly depicted lyrically and musically how I hear these passages in my head when I read them in the Bible. Chris Tomlin knocks it out of the park vocally with my favorite song he’s ever sung, “Your Heart,” where as David he pleadingly prays, “At the end of the day, I want to hear people say that my heart looks like Your heart.” That is the cry of my heart as well and tears stream down my face when I listen to the song. Disc two switches to the New Testament and opens with Francesca Battistelli singing “Be Born In Me” as she sings my new favorite depiction of “The Magnificat” especially from Luke: 1-48—“For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.” My favorite lyrics are when Francesca tenderly sings “I’ll hold You in the beginning, You’ll hold me in the end, every moment in the middle make my heart Your Bethlehem, be born in me.” I’ve always pictured Paul as a rugged guy, and one of the catchiest tracks on the album is Jeremy Camp belting out “Move In Me” as Paul on the move fittingly with a rock anthem song and a prayerful depiction of my favorite Bible hero submitting to Jesus, “I’m knocking down doors, You’re keeping the keys, Maybe they’ll open, maybe they’re not for me, I’m setting my sails, You ready the seas, I won’t make a move until You move in me.” Amen to that! Every song challenges and moves me and strengthens my faith, reminding me to cling to the Truth of Hebrews 12:1-2— “Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Music Inspired by The Story is stunning, prayerful and a perfect devotional companion for anyone who wants to grow closer to God by immersing themselves through music into the lives of biblical characters. It’s been said that people remember songs longer than they remember sermons, and as a music fanatic who loves The Bible, this is a marriage made in heaven for me. You can’t help but want to know God more deeply after this worshipful experience. Just like we were introduced to Nichole Nordeman passionately singing the words of Philippians 3:8-11—“I really want to know You,” sit back, lie facedown on the floor, raise your hands, close your eyes and allow these songs to penetrate your soul. This is the most inspiring and emotionally stirring collection of songs I’ve ever heard. There’s something for everyone: Chris Tomlin, MercyMe, Jeremy Camp, Mandisa, Francesca Battistelli, Lecrae and eighteen other artists all brilliantly bring us to the throne room by passionately performing these eighteen soul-piercing songs perfectly orchestrated by Nichole Nordeman and Bernie Herms. This is a five star compilation that needs to be heard and experienced until He comes back. God inhabits the praises of His people and as I immerse myself in these songs, I can imagine Him smiling down and saying ‘well done good and faithful servant.’
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