There is this amazing thing happening in churches today. A slew of young biblically faithful churches are creating unique and artistic worship music. Sojourn Community Church in Louisville seems is leading the charge in this.
Their latest album, Over the Grave: The Hymns of Isaac Watts, Volume 1, is their most creative to date. It is not a typical hymn album. It is common today to take old hymns and set them to more contemporary music, often maintaining melodies. Sojourn has used the works of the great hymn writer Isaac Watts as a platform from which they base their lyrics.
Being based on the writings of Isaac Watts, these songs draw deep from the well of God’s Word. It is a very balanced album theologically. The themes cover everything from the depravity of man, the centrality of the cross, God’s wrath and judgment, Christ as the only Savior, Christ as victor over sin, the joy of the Christian life, the changed life of the Christian. You can learn Bible from this album. That’s an important thing.
The talent on this album is endless. I have to admit, I struggled musically with this album at first. Not because I thought it was bad, but because it is so unique. I’ve never heard anything so unique in the worship music ‘genre.’ But one of the reasons I think that this album is so important for worship music is that it shows that worship is not a genre, it is an expression of love and joy to our Living God.
You can simply categorize this album by throwing it in he ‘Rock’ genre, but it’s much more than that. The opening track Warrior has a heavy blues sound. The next track Living Faith has a totally different sound; a more acoustic driven folk style. The variety goes on through out the while album.
The major reason for this variety is the difference in songwriters and musicians. There are a number of worship leaders on this album that each offer their own unique sound.
Some of these songs are difficult to sing. They would need to be taught to the congregation and even explained if used for corporate worship in our context. But this teaches another lesson on corporate worship. The style of worship music should be influenced by context. An inner city church in the south may not have the same music style a rural church in the midwest. And that’s ok because style doesn’t determine genuine worship, the heart does.
Also, as a worship leader I love that they have made all the chord sheets readily available
I took Sojourn’s advice and ordered a hardcopy of this album simply for the artwork. I’m glad I did. Read about how the artwork expresses the major themes of the album HERE.
Sojourn has challenged me as a worship leader and songwriter to value both theological depth and creativity. If this is the direction the church today is moving towards musically, praise God!