Prime Cuts: Turn Your Eyes, The King in All His Beauty, How Vast the Love
Overall Grade: 4/5
Sovereign Grace Music's "Glorious Christ (Live)" straddles between contemporary worship music and liturgically-driven hymns. On one hand, they have wisely eschewed worship songs that are nothing more than just the outburst of emotions over over-recycled love-song-esque lyrics. On the other hand, they have avoided those stuffy hymns that require a dictionary to decipher the meaning of the archaic lyrics. Rather, what we have here are 14 well-curated contemporary worship songs with words that are theologically rich and poetically intricate. Being in existence for over 30 years, Sovereign Grace Music is a collective of worship pastors and leaders garnered from a huge pool of likeminded churches. Churches who longed to produce biblically informed, Christ-exalting, emotionally engaging, and Spirit-empowered singing.
"Glorious Christ (Live)," the collective's latest release by Integrity Music, opens on a note of familiarity. Helen Lemmel's hymn "Turn Your Eyes" not only gets revived, but new verses are written to enhance our vision to how Jesus is at work today. Augmented with a vertically directed chorus that is glorious in both sound and words, this re-worked version of "Turn Your Eyes" is bound to gain traction with hymn lovers as well as those who love their worship contemporary. Giving more feast to our eyes, as we are challenged again to look to the beauty of what the Cross has achieved for us, is the power-packed anthem "How Vast the Love." If you love those adrenaline-charged worship songs that are packed with lots of punches to the soul then look no farther than "Christ Exalted is Our Song" and "He is Worthy."
The nerve center of the record is in the ballads. The gorgeous strings that introduce "Come, O Sinner" is simply stirring. Giving weight to the adage that "sometimes less is more" is the sparsely adorned "The King in All is Beauty." The simple yet profound call to let our eyes gaze upon Jesus is so worshipfully compelling. Nevertheless, this theme of looking to Jesus gets a tad repetitive when it's also the subject matter of "See How He Loves Us." This is thus the major weakness of this record. Though the theme of Christ ought to be central to all worship records, but far too many of the songs here revolve around similar thematic Christological trajectories. Take songs such as "When Christ Our Life Appears" and "Worthy One" as an example: both songs almost canvas similar subject matter sharing akin musical templates. It's good to be Christ-focused, but one can nuance the richness of Christ and his work with different specificity.
Though some of the songs lack distinction from each other, they cannot be faulted for their richness in both theology and doctrine. And with music that is geared towards congregational singing, this album mercifully relives us from those self-indulgent worship spontaneity. For worship that allows us to love God heart, mind and soul, check this record out.