A powerful God calls for powerful worship
Artist: Phil Wickham (www.philwickham.com)
Label: Fairtrade Services
Length: 11 tracks/45:50 minutes
From the earliest days, expressing worship through music has been on a trajectory. You can trace it from the beginnings of Jesus Music through labels like Maranatha, Vineyard and Integrity. It will not peak until the day that Christ returns but all that has gone before has surely led us to this place.
Who knew that combining rock and worship could be so powerful? Power is sometimes associated with loud in Scripture: The God of glory thunders! Loud is not inconsistent with worship: “Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!” (Psalm 150:5 ESV, italic added). I like quiet as much as anyone, but loud is powerful. It can be an appropriate response to an all-powerful God.
This idea of response is behind Phil Wickham’s latest offering. Worship is our response to God’s revelation. Worship is personal, but Wickham makes it collective. He employs more musicians, writers and producers than on any previous projects, including the well-respected Brown Bannister as a co-producer. Wickham succeeds in creating songs that are inviting so that people will sing along.
This is a collection of tracks that are easy to get into but have depth. Wickham even waxes poetic as on “Sun & Moon”: “If you are the sun, I want to be the moon / I want to reflect the light that shines from you / And if this is war, then I’m gonna draw my sword / This time I know what I am fighting for.”
Modern worship can be narrow in scope, but I appreciate the subtle diversity found in both the lyrics and music. For example, how often do you find a song about joy (“Joy”), a response to all that God has done? The focus of the next track is all about there being but one God (“One God”).
It may be typical of the genre, but the yearning for God and recognition that He is all we need is movingly evoked. Thankfully, the focus is not on our lack but God’s sufficiency. There is a recognition here and elsewhere in this movement that worship is not about us but about the person of God. There is a good balance between the extolling of His attributes and the cry of our hearts to know and love Him.
The European influence in the music is felt throughout and adds a unique texture. The Edge-like guitar work, witness the opening sounds of “Heaven Fall Down,” can make it sound like Wickham is being backed by U2. You could also easily mistake this for Delirious.
Wickham is doing modern worship as well as anyone. He is among the leaders of a new generation that are declaring God’s praises.
The first single, “At Your Name (Yahweh, Yahweh)” is like a banner waving high with an anthem-like chorus accompanied by explosive guitars. A powerful God calls for powerful worship, and this song like so many on this release conveys it.