Posted August 30, 2013
By KevinDavis_NRT, Staff Reviewer
I've been saved since 1999, and my testimony is that Jars of Clay's debut album rocked my world and changed my perspective of thinking I was good enough to go to heaven, and that my theology was Jesus plus works, going to church, and good behavior. I recognized in the song "Worlds Apart" that I needed to strip that away and allow my Savior to come into my heart and take root of what was in the way and ask Jesus to indwell me with His love, His Spirit, and His "bleeding Heart." What I love about Heart by The City Harmonic is that since I've been saved, I don't often hear an album that foundationally brings me back to when I wasn't a Christian, what am I thinking now and what do I need to strip away from my religiosity, and from my use of "Christianese" language. This album challenges me to think about how I'm living out my faith.
The orchestral musical flow of "Here and There" sets the tone brilliantly, including a light percussion heart beat as front man Elias Dummer achingly sings "heartbeat little heart, there you are, there you are / I come kicking I come screaming / I was used to the dark, You whispered light and lit a spark / there You are, there You are….You were, You are, You are, to come!" Brit-rock guitars swell with the orchestra adding stringed instruments, and my spine tingles during this moving song.
In another goose bump inducing song complete with harmonic gang-vocals, "Praise the Lord" proclaims "Praise the Lord, because in every moment, Jesus Christ is Lord!" "Strong" asks the question "what love is this that loves no matter what?" based on 1 John 3:1 (NKJV) "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him." That type of "gourmet" biblical phrasing sets this album on a higher plane than most of what I hear in any genre of music.
In my opinion, "Take Heart" is the signature song by this incredible band. It includes all of the elements of what I love about them in a musical build and emotionally moving lyrics rooted in Scripture, and like "Manifesto," when Eli sings "moments come, and moments fade…Your heart oh God is what I need, You've overcome the world, take heart," I sing along loudly and say Amen!
"Alive, Alive" is another sing-along with Eli displaying an incredible vocal range wrapped around a hook-filled melody. I literally shout to the Lord the rousing chorus "My God saves, I'm up from the grave, I'm alive, that's what He's done for me, alive, alive, O My God, that's what You've done for me!" The phrase "now it's alright, alright, it's alright" ends the song. That leads to an incredible reminder sung by Eric that in this broken world or in sickness we can all cry out to God "Love, Heal Me."
The Church can all sing to God be the "Glory" with the words "Shine a light for all to see, singing glory glory" which flows beautifully into lead single "A City on a Hill," based on the Beatitudes. Jesus really loves us just as we are, not who we pretend to be. Not only does He love our weaknesses, He blesses us because of them. Being poor in spirit, meek, persecuted, and insulted bring blessings from God, which is all we need. I can't help but break down every time I listen to the song. This song encourages me and is one of the most inspirational songs I've ever heard. The City Harmonic really captures what it means to be loved unconditionally by Jesus.
I love knowing that in my brokenness, I am actually closer to God. It is so wonderful to know that failing by the world's standards is what we are called to be as devoted followers of Jesus. "A City on a Hill" is a great message and song for us to celebrate our freedom from sin based on our faith in Christ Jesus. Also, it is commanded by Jesus in Matthew 5:16 to "let your light shine" so that others may praise God based on seeing the power of His life in us. Sometimes we forget to give Jesus credit for our freedom and accomplishments. We need to celebrate that freedom with our hands reaching out to others in Christ and show His light in us and let Him shine in us, "like a City on a Hill." Amen.
"Live Love" includes more "gourmet" phrasing: "Love it has a bleeding heart, love it doesn't count the cost… live love, because you're the love letter." When asked about the song, Elias says "It's a popular Christian thing to say that the Bible is God's love letter to the world, but Paul paints us as the love letter (2 Corinthians 3:2). We can't miss this." The album closes as strong as it starts, with a trio of gorgeous reflective and prayerful songs about living as image bearers of Christ: "Long Walk Home," "Brand New" and "My Jesus I Love Thee."
This album causes me to think about what kind of a "love letter" my life story is writing for Jesus. It is my belief that every single believer needs to hear this album. If you're only going to buy one album this year, I strongly suggest Heart. I'm both challenged and entertained, and I love hearing Scripture proclaimed in fresh and exciting ways. Every song is emotionally stirring and rooted in the Truth of God's Word. The only other musically emotional experience I've had that is comparable, "Fix You" by Coldplay, isn't rooted in biblical Truth.
The themes of this album are about trusting God and loving Him and loving others as He loved us. All of the songs are catchy, exciting and worshipful. After listening to the album, I am stirred with compassion to love people as Jesus loves us. That's the "heart" behind this album, and thank you The City Harmonic for blessing us with your music and for singing the Truth of the Gospel for the Kingdom of God.
Song to Download Now:
"A City on a Hill" (Get it on iTunes here.)
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