Genuine come-to-Jesus moments make this a classic
Come to the Waters (Collector’s Edition)
Artist: Children of the Day
Label: Born Twice Records (www.boonesoverstock.com)
Length: 9 tracks/38 minutes
Simple, diverse, sincere, earnest, and wise. It’s all here and more on Come to the Waters (originally released 1971) by Children of the Day.
It starts with the pleasant, straightforward “New Life,” a welcome-to-the-family song. A surprise follows.
The sound of a flute, followed by some woodwinds, and then harpsichord. The baroque-influenced melody and melancholy lyrics of “As a Child” extend for six minutes. It laments a former childhood openness that has disappeared.
“All Breathing Life” is a cappella, sung in the style of Handel’s Messiah, where parts of words are elongated, and the verses sung in rounds by the four members.
A Jewish rhythm animates the energetic “Children of the Day.” The combination of male and female harmonies, a folk style with no electric guitar, mainly acoustic instruments, electric bass and occasional drums (courtesy of John Mehler – Love Song, Richie Furay Band), with thoughtful, pointed lyrics, made Children of the Day a premier group.
It is unashamedly about a relationship with God through Jesus. We live in a different era. This kind of directness now might be considered preachy, but this does not sound forced. It’s a natural overflow from hearts that are full. It’s the desire to share treasure meant for everyone.
Records like this can remind Christians of their first devotion when God’s presence seems so near. It’s easy to let that slip because of cares and desires. Listening can actually rekindle lost aspirations.
Thanks to my mother, who played early Jesus music records on a stereo that went through our whole house, I had a soundtrack for my early experience just before and then after coming to Christ. Before I ever heard Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, Phil Keaggy and 2nd Chapter of Acts, my mom was playing The Way, The Joy Album, Let it Shine by Suncast, Love Song, The Praise Album, Come Together by Jimmy and Carol Owens, and others. The soft rock and simple lyrics were memorable, calling me. I never forgot some of those songs.
No doubt my mom had heard, “For Those Tears I Died,” the closing track on this record. It became one of the most popular songs of the period. It’s a genuine, moving come-to-Jesus moment, composed by group member, Marsha Stevens, who was only 16 when she wrote it. Mark Allan Powell calls it “an absolute masterpiece … it expresses adolescent piety better than any other Christian song ever written.”
New listeners may not feel a sense of nostalgia, but they can appreciate the sincerity and the primitive excellence.
Another classic invitation, “Two Hands,” written by Chuck Girard (Love Song), is elegantly covered here.
The song that follows, “Jesus Lives,” features background vocals that echo the female lead, all leading to an exuberant chorus that becomes euphoric when they begin to sing, “because of his love.” At that point, just when you think their voices can’t soar any higher, they do. Paradoxically, it’s a joyous song about Christ’s suffering and dying. It celebrates what that makes possible.
We have Born Twice Records to thank for reproducing this classic. As they detail in the liner notes, the masters were long gone, so they purchased a sealed vinyl copy and converted it to digital. Most people won’t be able to tell but those who pay attention to such things will notice. It sounds fine, and if you are into vinyl, you can find this album where used records are sold.
Born Twice Records has produced other classic Christian albums from the 60s, 70s, and occasionally the 80s. You can get the recordings at their website (see the address on the “Label” line).