Friday, December 31, 2010

My Ten Favourite Christian Songs: 6/10

The Newsboys are among Christendom's most amazing performers.  I've never been to a concert, but I know several people who have, and they all say they've never seen a concert like a Newsboys one.

Founded in 1985, they've been around the block a few times.  They have over a dozen studio albums released, as well as several singles and one compilation.  As with most of my music, I stopped collecting Newsboys releases in the late 90's so I'm quite out of touch with their later work.  This may be something I have to rectify.

Their lyrics are deeply insightful and superbly constructed.  I think of the perpetual play on words which goes on through the title track (link is to the very creative music video) for the 1996 album Take Me To Your Leader:

Justin is adjusting to the odor from Theodore's evergreen incense
But aromatherapy don't make him any younger than Oliver's All Liver Supplements
His late mate Marilee merrily said immortality can't be bought in a jar
This just in - Justin's had enough of cure-alls, gonna quiz the neighbor kid with the fish on his car.

You have to say those words out loud to get the puns. The odor & Theodore, Oliver & all liver... etc.

As neat as that song is, however, the one song that blows me away every time I hear it is Lost the Plot from the same album.  The rhythm is a pounding, driven expression of the heart's intrinsic anguish when lacking intimacy with Christ.  The lyrics are a conversation with God which reveals just how mediocre, hypocritical, and slothful the believer has become.  It's a real guilt trip - the healthy kind - and it serves as a wake-up call to all believers.  The first two lines sum it up:

When you come back again,
Would you bring me something from the fridge?

Here's the whole tune. Crank it up:


Tuesday, December 14, 2010


My Ten Favourite Christian Songs: 5/10

One cannot be a fan of Christian rock from the latter two decades of the 20th Century without having Petra somewhere in the list.  As I mentioned in the initial post on my favourite Christian music, Petra was the first album I ever bought.

Their style has consistently been rock, with a strong theme of spiritual warfare.  They make heavy use of the Scriptures in their lyrics, and seemed to have a limitless imagination for plays on words.  They rendered Caesar's famous quote, "Veni, vidi, vici" (I came, I saw, I conquered) into a song about Jesus called, "He Came, He Saw, He Conquered."  I was stunned when I first heard the title to "Killing My Old Man" until a friend (thank you Christa!) explained that it was a reference to the sinful man who dies in baptism, to be reborn anew with Christ in the resurrection.  And when they released their first praise & worship album - Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out - they played heavily on the fact that Petra is the Greek rendition of rock, and the passage in Luke 19:40 where Jesus responded to those who told his disciples to stop praising him that "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."

All of my Petra music is on cassette tape, with the exception of their God Fixation album, which I bought on CD and is the most recent one I have.  I did have an LP of Greg Volz, who was Petra's original lead vocalist but left the band to start a solo career.

His replacement, John Schlitt, did a concert of some of Petra's best hits in Caronport, SK on January 16, 1991, and that was the first concert I ever went to (the date stuck in my head because it was at the beginning of the first Gulf War).  He performed by himself, using recorded tracks of the band's music.  I remember how puzzled Schlitt was when the audience demanded an encore, as he hadn't prepared anything.  So he simply did the first song in the set over again.

With my journey to Catholicism and discovery of the fathers of the ancient Church, I was naturally drawn to Petra's song "St. Augustine's Pears."  It's taken from a passage in St. Augustine's Confessions (which I must confess I've never read) where he recounts how he stole pears from a tree for no other reason than that he could.  St. Augustine used that incident from his past to open a vast meditation on the nature of sin in his heart.

I also enjoy this song because of a neat trick they did with dual guitars and stereo channels in the intro.  Crank the volume and make sure you're listening in stereo.  The effect is magnified if you're wearing headphones.

Here it is - enjoy.