For it is by grace you have been saved...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Far Beyond Rescue - A review of some new old music

A paradox is defined as something that seems contradictory, but may be true in fact; or a person who seems full of contradictions. This pretty much fits me to a tee when it comes to music.

As far as I know, I’m the only person who collects antique hymnals for a hobby, and yet listens to music like Skillet, Newsboys, Flame, Shai Linne, Pillar, etc. Seems contradictory. But it’s not, and here’s why.

I love music that exalts Christ. Old, new, doesn’t matter. History is rich with songs written for the glory of God, and I enjoy the old hymnals to be reminded of that rich tradition, regardless of my “style” preference (which is more “modern”).

Praise God that some folks are putting this all together. There is a move out there to take old hymn texts and put them “modern” music. The goal is to introduce a new generation to the doctrinally rich heritage in these older songs.

One such artist is Aaron Robert, who graciously sent me a copy of the Far Beyond Rescue CD project. According to the website, the goal of this project is: to unite the hearts and voices of believers across the globe. The term blended worship is being redefined as a middle ground where the rich texts of ancient theology are carried by relevant melodies and sounds. The project's goal is to challenge worshipers to examine our hearts and to graciously worship in unity of purpose - the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The musical “style” covers quite a range. There are some modern “rock” tunes; along with a “Do-Wop” sounding arrangement of Were You There; a “techno-pop” sounding version of O Come, O Come Emmanuel, and even a little Irish interlude thrown in.

I especially enjoyed the first song, a nice arrangement of the old Toplady classic O Love Incomprehensible, and a very fun Nothing But the Blood (including a very fun guitar solo). I also liked the back to back cuts of Holy, Holy, Holy; the second being the aforementioned instrumental heavy track.

Much of this is just personal taste, of course, but I didn’t enjoy all of the offerings as much as some. The variety of styles, while interesting, was a little distracting for me personally. And of course, with everyone having different style preferences, others may have enjoyed different tracks more than me.

Also, to be very honest (sorry Aaron!), I think some of the mix/production aspect could have been a little better. Since this was basically a one man effort on that front, you can’t expect the poor guy to do everything. Aaron obviously is a talented musician with a gifted voice, and some of the tracks didn't show that as much as others.

Now having said that, I started out here talking about the desire to reach a new, wider audience with some of the rich hymn texts of yesteryear. On that front, I am extremely grateful for what this project offers. And honestly, I have enjoyed listening in my office while I study. I hope Aaron will continue to seek to honor God with his gifts in this way.

I love modern music. I’m grateful for each generation of song writers God has raised up to bring music to His people, just as He raises up godly men to proclaim His truth in every generation. But I’m also grateful for the rich heritage of music in the church. I keep praying we can get over the “worship wars” and simply appreciate anything that exalts Christ, whether new, old, or a fresh combination of the two.

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