Music Monday: Grace Rising (self-titled)
Release Date: September 18, 2016
There is a trend going on within the local church community and unlike so many other trends that influence the church, I sincerely hope this one is here to stay. It’s the trend of worship pastors and worship teams getting a burden from the Lord for the songs that need to be written for their church community; the songs that need to be sung at this very moment, at this very hour. It’s an organic process; growing and forming as Christ is preached and the Gospel goes forth each week.
Sure we will always appreciate and even need the songs of a Chris Tomlin or a Hillsong or a ____ (fill-in-the-blank for your favorite worship artist). But it is the songs that come forth for a season or a particular time in a church’s ministry that are so powerful and effective. In essence, these songs become an altar of sorts…a place to look back to and point to the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness.
For this Music Monday, I have the unique opportunity to highlight one particular church that is living this mission out and is providing its people with their own song to sing: Grace Rising based out of Grace Community Church (Arlington, VA).
From the opening track, “Adopted By The King”, there is a theme of rescue and redemption found in Jesus. I really can’t think of a lot of songs right now that focus on the idea of adoption and sonship found in Christ. But it’s so needed. The lyrics are influenced by Ephesians 1:5 which states: “He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will.” The song keeps things high-energy at the top and would be a great service-opener for a worship set.
The jangly, guitar-driven “God Of Every Day” is up next and has a laid-back, but uptempo feel. Worship Pastor Christian Nuckels fronts lead vocals while tag-teaming with Mikayla Simeral; they blend amazingly well. This track has a steady groove about it and is just plain fun; with a ripping guitar solo to boot! Pulled from Lamentations 3:22-23, the song speaks of God’s faithfulness with each new morning:
Every day You make the morning rise
Every breath I breathe, You put inside
Every heartbeat is a gift You give
Every moment of this life I live
Your glory on display, God of every day
The call from Hebrews 12:1-3 to run our lives with endurance focused on Christ is the basis for track 3, “Running”. The song has an Israel Houghton-type vibe; especially going into the spill-over track “Re-running”…it’s an all-out jam. Running itself even breaks things down with a rap provided by Paul Bohannon. When’s the last time you heard rap in a worship song? Yeah I haven’t either, but it just works and makes me want to hear more from Bohannon.
Christian and company slow things down with “Risen From The Grave”, a track which I would peg as the clearest Gospel-centered cut on the album. It has a hymn-like cadence and is super-singable; the vocals of Neesa Wilkerson, Bri Bolden, Portia Ofori, Paul Bohannon, and Christian come through strong. I could see this song going over well in many congregations. Personally I’m drawn in by the bridge lyric with its bold proclamation:
With Christ we are buried
And with Christ we are raised
To walk in new life
We are risen from the grave
I know a song is catchy and singable when I’ve played it in my mini-van and my kids are requesting to hear it again and again after just one listen. Such is the case with “Desperate”, a soft worship ballad based on Psalm 77 and John 4:13-14. Elisha Han provides stellar matching vocals alongside Christian and violinist Julie Tavares carries a sweeping melody over the entire song. Again, the Gospel is clearly presented and declares that the blood of Christ provides our ransom.
Rounding out the last few tracks, there are some great truths proclaimed; as each song has a Scripture reference which supports the lyrical content. Whether it’s the upbeat “Lift Up Your Voice” (Your love is making everything new, the lies of hell give way to heaven’s truth), the desire to be filled with Christ in the Rend Collective-feeling “One Desire”, or the contemplative and soothing “Pour Our Your Presence”, the closing tracks are centered on One Name alone. It’s Jesus that is the heartbeat and focus; convincing me that not only is the team dedicated to sing about Christ, Grace Community Church is fixed on the Gospel from the pulpit to the pew.
If I were to sit in on a worship band practice with Grace Rising, I expect there to be some “all-out jam times” where they get the funk out and let the walls rattle a little. At least that’s what I’m imagining goes on as I’m listening to these tracks. And I think that is what’s so powerful about a church’s worship ministry coming together, doing life together, and then getting a heart for what God wants to say through music. I am confident that Pastor Nuckels and his team are pressing into that each week; listening closely for the things God wants His people to sing. It’s an honor to have connected and to hear this project from Grace Rising and I am looking forward to what comes next from this talented crew.
Until the next #musicmonday, God bless!