Psalms, Vol. 2 EP

psalms vol 2Robbie Seay Band
robbieseayband.com
Robbie Seay Band’s latest release Psalms, Vol. 2 EP, is a slight departure from the alt-rock-roots music—and signature stylized vocals we’ve come to expect from the band’s lead singer/songwriter. Though Seay’s unique style has always been a refreshing break in the sometimes predictable Christian musical landscape, this time he has created songs that any worship band in any church of any committed style can step into and worship God using Scripture. (That’s not to say all will be able to implement the production on the album.) This is a congregational worship album. It is unquestionably all about God and not all about Robbie. It takes humility or desperation to become less visible so God can shine. Robbie and the band have done that. Scripture is the star here.

The songs for the most part—Psalm 134 excepted—do not express the entire psalm or even most of it (as for instance The Sons of Korah are more likely to do). Rather each song pulls an essential prayer or proclamation (or combines both) and repeats it—a sort of sung contemplation of a single or a few truths about God. It is lovely, uplifting, and the perfect segue between reading the whole psalm in a church setting and then rehearsing key elements to effect a stick to the spiritual ribs factor. Hopefully Psalms, Vol. 2 will serve as a catalyst for just that.

The music is emotional and devotional, igniting and impelling hearts to worship. The opening psalm, 134, is the perfect call to worship. Next up, Psalm 140, is an urgent cry for God’s mercy and deliverance, with an ardent proclamation of trust infused with uptempo energy—hope in the face of need. Psalm 139 rehearses God’s intimate knowledge of his children, building in passion from a single voice and keys to a guitar, vocal and sound layering, shimmering percussion and compelling drums, sprinkles of evocative guitar soloing. Psalm 118, is simply exquisite as it declares, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,” beginning and ending in quiet, it is an anthemic march to glory as it grows in power, and then pulls back to voice, tcello and finally, simple guitar. Psalm 3 finishes the album with two minutes of evocative atmospherics and sound painting, before declaring and repeating the truth we all need to have alive in our spirits and imprinted on our hearts: “I will not be afraid, I Will Not Fear, No I will not fear. For you, Oh LORD are a shield about me. You are my glory. You lift my head… I cried aloud to you oh God, and you answered me.”.

Sounds like: Robbie Seay Band, but different, more stylistically accessible to the average worship band/lead vocalist. The music combines folk, rock, roots, pop, and synth atmospherics, with shades of John Schreiner, Crowder, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, Matt Redman.

Top Songs:
Most singable:
Psalm 118

Most Scriptural: All, but more of complete text encompassed in Psalm 134

The whole package: Psalm 118, 140

Andrea Hunter
4.5 Stars 

 

 

Rooftops: The Sound of Vineyard Youth

vineyard-ukVineyard UK
vineyardrecords.co.uk
Rooftops is a compilation of songs recorded from the Vineyard youth gathering called Dreaming the Impossible. These are catchy, fun, and congregational. Young listeners will relate to songs written by their own generation and will also be introduced to classics like “Hallelujah (Your Love is Amazing)” and “When I Survey.”

Sounds like: High energy, synth-driven Vineyard songs

Top Songs
Most Singable: “Rooftops”
Strongest Biblical Content: “Jesus Name” (Phil 2:9-11)
The Whole Package: “Fiery Love”

Gary Durbin
4 stars

 

The 27 Best Practices of a Pastoral Musician

1-27-best-practices
By Constance Cherry

What does the pastoral musician look like in worship leadership? How is it different than simply leading the music of worship? In essence, how is the role of pastoral musician practiced? As we can see, it involves more than the music, though strong musicianship is presumed. In practice, pastoral musicians are persons who:

1. Have a solid understanding of biblical worship and its meaning.

2. Are able to theologically reflect upon worship in light of present culture.

3. Are captivated with pursuing God’s view of worship.

4. Have an awareness of the historical significance of two millennia of Christian worship.

5. Embrace the dialogical nature of worship as revelation/response.

6. Reject the predominance of anthropomorphic worship in favor of Christo-centric worship.

7. Understand that worship is to primarily be relevant to God (while connecting to the people).

8. Recognize that biblical worship is both vertical and horizontal in nature.

9. Understand biblical worship to be primarily corporate in nature.

10. Embrace, encourage, and love the persons in the community God has given them to oversee.

11. Reject passive worship done for the community and strive for participative worship done by the community.

12. Understand that worship always forms us, explicitly and implicitly.

13. View the core content of worship to be the story of God—what the triune God is doing from creation to re-creation.

14. Celebrate the Christian Year so as to proclaim the story of God in Christ.

15. See worship as a bigger entity than exclusively music.

16. Understand the inter-relationship between music and all of the other acts of worship in the whole service.

17. View music as a servant of the text.

18. Select and employ music not for its own sake, but to serve a greater purpose—the purpose of enabling conversation with the triune God.

19. Embrace a wide breadth of congregational song—drawing from psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

20. Prayerfully arrive at a canon of song appropriate to their community by applying standards of theological, musical, and lyrical integrity.

21. Understand that excellence is a journey, not an end.

22. Seek to help their God-given community discover its “worship voice” (their meaningful way of communicating with God that is expressive of their culture).

23. Strengthen and balance the worship style that is normative for their community.

24. Help worshipers view their worship as connected to the worship of sisters and brothers all over the world.

25. Help worshipers view their worship as eternal worship—worship that has been and will always be ongoing—on earth as it is in heaven.

26. Connect public worship and pursuing justice for others here and now.

27. Connect public worship with private worship.

This list of “best practices” (though incomplete) helps us flesh out the comprehensive nature of what it means to function as a pastoral musician. Notice that it involves not only doing, but also being. Becoming a pastoral musician is about who you are more than what you do.

 

Rev. Dr. Constance M. Cherry is a regular contributor to Worship Leader and much-loved speaker and workshop leader at NWLC. An associate professor of worship and Christian ministries at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana, she is also a permanent part-time professor for the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies. Cherry is known for her definitive exploration of worship in The Worship Architect, and her latest book Special Service Worship releases this month. She has served local churches as a minister of music/worship and as a United Methodist pastor.

 

Hospitality

Welcome carpet

By Warren Anderson

On Sunday morning you want to be hospitable to those who enter our worship experiences, but don’t yet share our faith. Right? But you have strong (and correct) feelings that you ought not to sacrifice “Truth” in the process. What to do? Here are three suggestions to start the conversation:

1. Simplify your rhetoric.
In an homage to Bob Webber soon after he died, Joan Huyser-Honig celebrated Webber’s focus on the “embodiment of God’s narrative,” the kind of “hospitality that inspires worship committees to look at beloved liturgical elements and ask whether they’re too complicated for people to connect with.” Practically speaking, “Do whatever you can do to simplify liturgy so you make ancient things accessible in our cultural context,” suggests Darrell Harris, chaplain at Webber’s Institute for Worship Studies.

For example, for years now worship leaders have been told not to assume we can toss out words like sanctification and propitiation and expect everyone in attendance to follow us. Good start. But how often do we suppose that those who don’t know the Lord regularly use words like holiness or salvation? And even if they have a general sense of the denotative—or “dictionary”—definitions of those words, can we really assume they understand their connotative meanings—all the specific, sociological associations that come with the words—in our American evangelical context? Most of us spend plenty of time, rightly so, honing our praise bands’ sounds. Spending a bit more time thinking seriously about transitional commentary could make a big difference where hospitality to unbelievers is concerned. For further reading: Worship Words (Rienstra and Rienstra).

2. Choose songs that are easy to sing.
If you’re serious about creating a welcoming environment for those unfamiliar with our Christian culture, you have to make it easy for them to sing along with us during the congregational-singing component of our corporate worship. Most of our contemporary worship songwriters have covered point 1, above, sufficiently, but even when they do, do our interpretations of their songs help our cause? For instance, when Chris Tomlin, with his lovely lyric tenor, records every other song in B major, do we feel compelled to sing those songs in the same key, or do we modulate down—sometimes a couple of whole steps—to make his wonderful songs relatively easy for the vast majority of folks to sing? Do we pay attention to things like syncopation in the rhythm, the use of metrical feet in the lyrics, and musical ornamentations that often work a whole lot better on a solo recording than they do in the context of corporate worship? Doing so could help those who don’t listen to K-LOVE stand a decent chance of participating in worship, at least at a basic level. For further reading: The Art of Worship (Scheer).

3. Let Scripture do the work of Scripture.
A few years back, frequent Worship Leader contributor Constance Cherry did an intriguing study on the percentage of time the reading of Scripture occupied in worship services across America (“My House Shall Be a House of … Announcements”). Sadly, she found that Scripture reading in contemporary worship services (across a host of different denominations) accounted on average for a mere 2% of the service. Speaking through the prophet Isaiah (55:11), our Lord said, “I send [my word] out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it” (NLT). If worship evangelism is our goal, let’s elevate Scripture to a place of prominence above all of our well-intended songs and statements. “He must increase, but I must decrease,” indeed. For further reading: Worship in the Shape of Scripture (Mitman).

  

Along with being the Worship Pastor at the Elgin Evangelical Free Church in Elgin, IL, Warren Anderson teaches communication arts and worship arts classes and serves as Dean of the Chapel at Judson University.