Music Monday: Have It All by Bethel Music
OK full disclosure: I've never considered myself a Bethel Music fanboy. Sure I've fallen in love with and led certain tracks as a worship leader. Sure many of their songs have become anthems for the church…"This Is Amazing Grace," "No Longer Slaves," "One Thing Remains," "Forever," et al. But by and large, I never took the time to go deeper and see what made a Bethel project so special.
With the last 2 albums however (We Will Not Be Shaken and Have It All), something has changed for me as a worshipper and as a listener. By going beyond just the "big cuts" and listening to each album as a complete worship experience front to back, I have grown to love and appreciate what Bethel is doing. I have come to see a depth and a heart for worship that is a rallying cry for the local church. Have It All is an amazing piece of art for the worship community, something that has been desperately needed in a genre which, let's admit it, is at times somewhat predictable.
As with other recent projects, the growing list of writers and contributors (Jonathan David Helser, Brian and Jenn Johnson, Amanda Cook, Leeland Mooring, Jeremy Riddle, Kalley Heiligenthal and others) has become a who's who of modern praise and worship hymnody. The opening track, "Shine On Us" sets a tone for the record which calls upon God's intervention within our lives and our subsequent surrender to His ways. Led by the forceful vocals of William Matthews, the opening verse proclaims:
I was stumbling in the darkness
Couldn't see my hand in front of me
I was sending up an SOS
When all was lost, You came running
Moving right along, "Faithful To The End" features Heather and Paul McClure tag-teaming verse and chorus sections with a nice blend and build throughout. Once again, lyrics are penned together beautifully and in a way that expresses something unique and on a deeper level; poetically speaking:
We're heaven-spun creations
His pride and adoration
Treasures woven by his love
His careful hands they hold us
Safe within His promise
Of calling and of destiny
Title track "Have It All" is up next and makes a great segue into the next movement of the album. And I would argue this song is the rallying cry that encapsulates what the entire album is trying to say. Perhaps that's a "duh moment" for anyone reading this, but if you were to listen to just one track (and I would recommend listening to all 16), "Have It All" really says what Bethel is trying to say throughout...the desire for our lives to be marked by an unwavering dedication to the Lord. Led by Brian Johnson, this is a congregational-friendly and dynamic song that can be made big with just an acoustic guitar or with a full band.
Surely most are familiar by now with the other main stand alone track "The Lion and The Lamb." If you haven't heard it yet in church, give it time...Easter is right around the corner! But in all seriousness, this song makes waves simply because it's so declarative and so bold in its proclamation. It gives the church a song it needs to sing at this very time. Leeland Mooring confidently sings in his high tenor "Who can stop the Lord Almighty". "The Lion and The Lamb" works great as either a service opener or a bridge song in the middle of a set. It's definitely worth a listen if you're a worship pastor looking for something newer and upbeat (the struggle is real my friends!).
Transitioning again, "Thank You" led by Jonathan David Helser is the type of raw and honest song that simply states:
How do I say thank You, Lord
For the way that You love
And the way that You come
For all that You've done
All that You'll do
My hearts pours out
I'll admit this is a song that brings out the emotions when I truly just sit and worship along with it; realizing a level of gratitude I must profess to my Savior for all He's done for me. There are several of those moments on Have It All, but for me, this is the most profound. This could work well as a response song or as something played during the altar time after a message.
One thing that stands out on Have It All are the extemporaneous and extended worship sections. Spontaneous in nature, Bethel has given the listener space in the margins and allowed worship to flow freely. "Colors," the first spontaneous moment, features Lindsey Strand’s soft lilt (Bring Your color in my life…) along with the heartfelt plea of Brian Johnson (…Would You walk into the room). The second section entitled "Sweet Praise," comes after the moving "Heaven Come," led by Jenn Johnson. "Sweet Praise" is a soaring piece featuring a solo violinist playing alongside a fingerpicked acoustic guitar. It just builds and builds, ending with Jenn’s exhortation to the audience: “Lift your voices, sing out in the Spirit.” It’s quite possibly my favorite moment of the entire album.
Even in finishing up, there’s much left to find of use to the local worship pastor looking for new music. The Cory Asbury-led "Son of God" is the most powerful Gospel-focused track of the lot and would easily be a great Easter option: The spotless Lamb for every sinner slain, Our victory our hope beyond the grave, He has overcome. Brian Johnson leads "Greatness Of Your Glory" which starts soft but pulsates into a stadium-rock type bridge: Your kingdom coming closer and closer, Glory to Glory brighter and brighter, Heaven is singing louder and louder. Memorable choruses and melodies abound in the final three tracks whether it is "Mercy" (You delight in showing mercy and mercy triumphs over judgment), to the 80s synth influenced "Spirit Move" (We are fixed on this one thing, To know Your goodness and see Your glory) to "Glory to Glory" which sees William Matthews once again leading, bookending this release with his commanding vocals.
This live album, released in 2016 was Bethel Music’s first live album since For The Sake Of The World, which dropped in 2012. I would argue no one does the live “feel” and proximity better than Bethel does. I’ve been challenged in my own worship and prayer times to find music that draws me into a deeper place and sets my mind more clearly on the Father. And the heart behind these songs is clear. From bethelmusic.com: “These songs testify that unhindered worship is our most natural response of love to our Creator. Written from a combination of personal journeys that carried a common thread, the vulnerability, honesty, and resilience behind this project will encourage you and your community.”
Have It All is a great accompaniment to the quiet time for the worshipper, but is also full of new ideas for those churches looking to have deep and meaningful times of worship with their congregants. If you have a chance, I’d highly recommend a download or CD purchase (click here for download). It will not disappoint.