I sorted my iTunes library by date to see which CDs I had added to my collection this year. After perusing the list, three stood out to me as exceptional. One was produced in 2005, but I didn’t know about it until this year. Another came out last month, but I’ve been wearing it out since.
3. Andrew Peterson came to the city late last year to do a concert at Williamsburg Church, but I was unable to go. Nevertheless the event introduced me to him, and I picked up his CD The Far Country. I’ve really enjoyed his style, described by one reviewer as a “mixture of folk, country, blues and hints of rock-n-roll.” But what hooked me are the texts. I frequently pondered (and often wept over) these lines in the second track:
When you lay me down to die,
I’ll miss my boys, I’ll miss my girls.
Lay me down and let me say goodbye to this world.
You can lay me anywhere
but just remember this:
when you lay me down to die,
you lay me down to live.
Another favorite is “Mystery of Mercy.” As Peterson reflects on the the gravity of our sin (“I am the woman at the well, I am the harlot . . . I am the son who ran away, I am the bitter son who stayed”), he asks, “My God, my God, why hast thou accepted me? You took my sin and wrapped me in your robe and your ring.”
The whole CD is an enjoyable, moving meditation on the gospel. If you don’t have it, it’s worth the $4.99 to download it from Amazon.
2. Shai Linne‘s newest offering, The Attributes of God, is fantastic. I downloaded “The Glory of God” (based on Ps 115.1) a few months ago when it was released as a free teaser for the forthcoming album. The more I listened to it, the more I loved it–although I still can’t keep up with the line “Neptune, Uranus and Pluto and Jupiter, Mercury, Saturn and Venus and Mars.” Now that the whole thing is available, it’s become a regular part of my listening diet. Track 3 (based on Ps 115.3 and Ps 2, among others) focuses on God’s sovereignty and the foolishness of human attempts to dethrone him:
Man thinks he’s a pugilist, trying to ball up his tiny fist
at the LORD, who’s ruling this.
What’s amusing is God just laughs, like “Who is this?”
Stupid kids who persist in foolishness.
It’s only by God’s power you exist!
Now you declare war on the LORD
when before you were born
he formed you in the uterus?
Look–our God is in the heavens and he does all that he pleases.
He’s established his king in Zion and his name is Jesus!
Other attributes covered in this album include his patience, love, grace and mercy, holiness, faithfulness, and self-sufficiency. Disclaimer to those with small children: some of the tracks may not be suited to the younger ears in your family (e.g., the first stanza of “The Jealous One”). You may wish to steer of some tracks, perhaps in the same way you might avoid Song of Solomon or Leviticus 18 in your family devotions.
Shai has again served the truth with strong biblical content, helpful theological summaries, and memorable tunes. Like Peterson’s CD, Amazon has it priced ridiculously low at $4.99.
1. No artist has played more on my iPhone this year than Josh Garrels. I downloaded his album, Love & War & the Sea in Between, because so many of my friends mentioned it on Facebook and Twitter. Now I know why.
The song that got me hooked was “Farther Along,” with a chorus rooted in the twentieth-century song by the same name. The stanzas, however, are all new. The last one concludes like this:
One day when the skies roll back on us,
Some rejoice and the others fuss
Cuz every knee will bow and tongue confess
That the Son of God is forever blessed.
His is the Kingdom, and we’re the guests,
So put your voice up to the test–
Sing, “Lord, come soon.”
Then it was “The Resistance”:
My rest is a weapon against the oppression
of man’s obsession to control things.
Look at the long line of make-believe kings!
The lord of the flies wants you to kiss his ring,
follow new rules with invisible strings.
and become a puppet in the diabolical scheme.
How do good men become part of the regime?
They don’t believe in resistance.
It then concludes:
Hold fast, my people, and sing
through peace and through suffering,
all for the joy that it brings, to be free.
It’s gonna cost us everything
to follow one Lord and King.
True love endures everything
to be free.
Hold fast, like an anchor in the storm.
We will not be moved.
Then there’s the haunting song of confession, “Slip Away”:
To you, my sweetest friend,
I betrayed you, I walked away again.
Now all that’s left is what might have been.
Please forgive me, before we reach the end.
Yes, I love this CD. I admit I deselected one tune (“Sailor’s Waltz”); it just seemed weird to me. But the other seventeen tracks more than make up for it. From the all-instrumental “A Far Off Hope” (which was so good that I wish it were longer) to the love song “Million Miles” (which has been my ringtone for Kimberly for months), this is easily my favorite CD of the year.
Apparently Christianity Today liked it, too.
Now here’s the amazing thing. If you thought the other two CDs were a good deal, check this out. You can download it for free (legally!) at NoiseTrade. Free. If you can afford it, leave Josh a tip. I’m sure he’d appreciate it. But there’s no obligation to do so.
Now that’s a deal you shouldn’t pass up.