Refined faith makes for a mature perspective
No Longer My Own
Artist: Cheri Keaggy (www.cherikeaggy.com)
Length: 11 tracks/44 minutes
Cheri Keaggy’s faith has been tested since her Charlie Peacock-produced debut, Child of the Father (1994). That opened with the soaring, worshipful “Make My Life an Altar.” Keaggy opens No Longer My Own with questioning, “What would You have me to write/What would you have me to tell the world/What could I possibly say/How can I possibly change the way things are …” The music jogs along with a sober assessment of the pain and evil in the world.
“Overcome” truly speaks to our time, reminding us that God is here and that nothing escapes his notice. There is no need to fear. This is not a naïve view; it’s an honest look informed by the reality of God. It’s this perspective, which you find throughout, that makes this rewarding.
In the next song Keaggy sings, “It was good for me to be afflicted that I might learn your decrees.” This is a line from Psalm 119:71. The lyrics follow the pattern of the psalm by extolling the virtues of Scripture. The shuffling rhythm builds in intensity while Keaggy describes what the Word accomplishes.
Whereas some past efforts could fall into the praise and worship category, this goes deeper with thoughtful musings on a variety of subjects. These songs are not designed for congregational singing and that’s fine because I enjoy the reflections, whether serious or lighthearted.
The most startling is “Be My Sabbath.” “If faith without works is dead, I need to die for a day or a very long weekend.” It’s maximum angst with a gritty sound. It expresses a desire to cease from striving and have God as your source.
This song has the heaviest-sounding guitar work; most tracks are keyboard-driven. My guess is that the majority came into being through the piano. They are mostly mid-tempo songs. I wondered if the guitar playing was her uncle, Phil Keaggy, who makes guest appearances on her releases.
I discovered that he is responsible for the joyful ukulele sounds on “Whatever is True (Phil. 4:8).” It’s the primary instrumentation. In the last stanza she applies the list of attributes from the verse to Christ.
“I Love Your Company” is a beautiful picture of a parent’s love for a child. It made me think of God’s love for His children, how He longs for them to abide. The melody is like a gentle caress.
I hear longing in “Jesus, One and Only.” It’s just Keaggy playing a simple tune on the piano while she intimately expresses her desire for God’s comfort.
This closes with Annie J. Flint’s “He Giveth More Grace,” which leads into part of “I Surrender All.” It includes a uillean pipe, the national bagpipe of Ireland. Some may recognize this hymn from the lines of the first stanza:
He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
Choices like this are indicative of the maturity found on this release.