The Crowder Requiem Review: Coda

Yesterday we heard someone walking up a path at the end of “Oh My God, I’m Coming Home”. At the beginning of the next track, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms/’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” they walk through the door; they have arrived home. This brings the album full circle from the footsteps of the very first track. As they open the door, a wash of sound envelops them. A band is singing a hymn in harmony to the accompaniment of banjo, fiddle, and some simple percussion. The two hymns David Crowder*Band has blended both express the joy and comfort of trusting in Jesus and relying on His guidance.

The sound of applause guides us to the next track, “Jesus, Lead Me to Your Healing Waters,” which has a similar texture and folky sound to “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” This original song sounds like a gospel-style hymn, with solo voice on the verses and a chorus of people singing the refrain. The theme is the healing and freedom of living in Jesus Christ.

More applause guides us to the final track of the album, “Because He Lives,” a setting of another hymn. David Crowder’s singing is soulful and expressive; rhythm guitar provides percussion and banjo brings color to the song. The other band members join in harmony on the refrain. In this hymn, we celebrate the wonder of salvation, Christ’s death on the cross, and most of all, His life, which brings us life. This Requiem is not for the dead; it is for the living, and we live now and after we die because He lives.

David Crowder*Band’s masterpiece is full of meaning, expressing Biblical truths using the framework of tradition, using a variety of well-crafted musical styles to bring fullness to that framework. To God be the glory. I hope this album gives you rest.

The Crowder Requiem Review: In Paradisum

The David Crowder*Band introduces a new twist to the Requiem Mass text about arriving in paradise. Christians think of heaven as home, our eternal home with God. Since the David Crowder*Band Requiem is meant for the living rather than the dead, the two songs coinciding with In Paradisum are about returning to God while we still live in our mortal bodies. Instead of entrance into heaven, these songs explore the emotions of our souls returning to God’s presence, even here on Earth.

“A Return” starts with simple finger-picked guitar, energized with the introduction of drums. The text is about our hearts wandering from God, as the prodigal son wandered from his father. The entrance of the electric guitar changes the attitude of the whole song, from a song of wandering to a song of return and rejoicing. When we return to God, nothing else matters; He welcomes us with open arms and everything becomes new.

“Oh My God, I’m Coming Home” is straightforward, voice and acoustic guitar, with very few lyrics:

Oh my God, I’m coming home.
Dance all day and sing along.
To the glory, hallelujah,
Oh my God, I’m coming home.

The song also takes us on a journey using sound effects. We hear someone get into a car and start driving, the white noise of the road beneath the wheels, and the song fades into the background as though it’s playing on the car stereo. The door opens, the keys jangle, and the driver walks up a path covered in dry leaves. He is going home.

There are still three songs left on the album, even though the Requiem mass is over. This coda is a sort of continuation of In Paradisum, the songs we sing in God’s presence for the sake of His glory. Come back tomorrow for some notes on these hymns.

The Crowder Requiem Review: Libera Me

We’re in the home stretch of David Crowder* Band’s album, Give Us Rest. Two sections of text remain in the Requiem Mass: Libera Me and In Paradisum. 

The Band does not set a text resembling the Libera Me; rather, “Sometimes” seems like an answer to the desperate tone of the Latin text. The speaker in the Requiem text fears the trials of judgement; this is at odds with the Christian hope of salvation for all believers, since in fact we have nothing to fear. David Crowder* Band addresses this apparent contradiction in the Latin text. The truth is that sometimes, we feel as though we’re not being saved; we feel the weight of our unworthiness; we fear the wrath that is not meant for us.

Sometimes, every one of us feels like we’ll never be healed.
Sometimes, every one of us aches, like we’ll never be saved.

But despite these feelings, we have hope in God’s eternal love. God’s love is “like a sea without a shore.” He has forgiven us, He is healing us, He is saving us. The song becomes an anthem of adoration and gratitude for God’s love as the music builds into a full texture, fearless and passionate.

 

The Crowder Requiem Review: Introit, Requiem Aeternam.

I have decided that this album– David Crowder* Band’s Give Us Rest or A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys])– is too good for a mere single post. I’m going to do a review in parts, starting from the beginning and working to the end. This may take a while. There are 34 tracks; today I’m only going to write about the first two. Here’s a youtube link to the first two tracks.

The album opens with bells, the rustle of leaves, birds singing, and footsteps. Although a requiem is traditionally a mass for the dead, the main character, the focus of the album, is very much alive. By the time the footsteps’ owner enters the church and sits down on a creaky pew, the priest is already on the second line of the Latin Requiem text: “… et lux perpetua luceat eis…” — and let perpetual light shine upon them. The lateness of the footsteps’ owner reminds us of his humanity and propensity for mistakes; his presence at the mass reminds us of his fragility.

This theme is confirmed within the first lines of the song proper. The Latin Requiem text can be translated “Give them [the dead] eternal rest,” but David Crowder sings: “Oh great God, give us rest.” The purpose of this requiem is not to bring peace to the dead, but peace to the living. It is for the peace of those living in the fallen world and for the resurrection of dead souls in living bodies. The climax of the song, resounding with “Let it shine,” is a view into eternity and the light of God. At the end of the song we return to the simple piano pattern we heard in the beginning; we are still earth-bound, for now.