The privilege of worshiping God is one that is perhaps most sweetly recognized when done corporately. While the feel of worshiping the Lord together in such a way cannot be fully encapsulated in a recording, there is something powerful about sharing music broadly. To that end, Sovereign Grace Churches have invested treasure and talent into creating a series of worship albums - both those recorded live and in the studio. Below is a post that originally appeared on the Worship Matters blog. Read on to learn more about a new album project that will be an encouraging gift and resource for anyone this Christmas.
Sovereign Grace Music released our last band album, Sooner Count the Stars, two years ago.
I’m happy to announce that after reviewing 170 songs, we finally have another: Prayers of the Saints (Live). It took a while, but I think it was more than worth the wait.
Worship albums are as common these days as a new mattress store (come to Louisville and you’ll know what I mean). I receive an email informing me of a new album almost once a week. That’s about 50 albums, each with at least 12 songs, which adds up to 600 new songs a year. And that’s just scratching the surface of the albums being recorded.
So why produce another one? First, because we think the church always needs more songs that deal with themes like confession, lament, and longing. Second, because there will never be enough songs to sufficiently proclaim the worthiness of the Savior who came to redeem rebels for his Father’s glory. He is that glorious.
What’s in a Name?
This album started in 2016 as a project on the Lord’s Prayer. But after reviewing the 80 or so songs we wrote on that theme, we didn’t think we had enough songs for an album.
We weren’t looking for good songs. We wanted great songs. Songs that would not only express the truth of the gospel in a compelling and beautiful way, but songs people would want to sing and hear again and again.
So in 2017, we changed the theme to “Prayers of the Saints.” It’s a phrase John uses in Rev. 5:8 and 8:4 to describe the prayers of God’s people for the punishment of the wicked, the deliverance of his people, and the vindication of God’s name. It highlights the fact that we live in the time of the “already and not yet.” Satan is defeated, our sins are paid for, the grave is overcome. But we’re waiting for the final consummation when death will be forever destroyed and tears will be no more. So while we celebrate, rejoice, and praise, we also grieve, intercede, and anticipate.
Songs for the Journey
The Christian life isn’t one triumph after another. We endure suffering, sin, persecution, and temptation while fixing our gaze on Jesus’ promised coming. Through his substitutionary death and victorious resurrection he has guaranteed those he’s redeemed a future of eternal glory and joy.
So we wrote lyrics like these to sing on the journey:
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer, strong defender of my weary heart
My sword to fight the cruel deceiver, and my shield against his hateful darts
(from O Lord, My Rock and My Redeemer by Nathan Stiff)
Deliver us from evil, Lord; the devil’s seeking to devour
With trembling hearts we hear his roar, but Your strong arm will crush his pow’r
(from We Look to You by Joel Sczebel and Matt Searles)
As day unfolds, I seek Your will in all of life’s demands
And though the tempter tries me still, I cling to Your commands
Let every effort of my life display the matchless worth of Christ
Make me a living sacrifice; be glorified today
(from A Christian’s Daily Prayer by Matt Merker and Jordan Kauflin)
Though the dark is overwhelming and the brightest lights grow dim
Though the Word of God is trampled on by foolish men
Though the wicked never stumble and abound in every place
We will all be humbled when we see Your face
(from When We See Your Face by Bob Kauflin and Jordan Kauflin)
The Players and Singers
Sovereign Grace Music doesn’t record definitive versions of songs we want others to copy. We hope local churches will adapt our songs to their own context and sing them in a way that serves their congregations. That might be a full band, a piano and organ, a choir and orchestra, or even a lone acoustic guitar. That being said, we worked hard on this album to come up with arrangements we think will serve you.
David Zimmer served us masterfully on drums, Ryan Foglesong on bass (and acoustic), and Patrick Anderson on electric/acoustic. All three have been a part of previous Sovereign Grace albums and WorshipGod conferences. My good friend, Jonny Barahona (Sojourn Music), did a fantastic job on keys and served as the main arranger. I played keys as well, Gabriel Reyes added another electric, and Zach Fuller covered percussion. Chris Perdue and Whitney Kloceck took care of the moving string parts. Vocalists were McKenzie Fuller, Charity Mick, Lisa Clow, Devon Kauflin, and Caleb Dirnberger, all Sovereign Grace church members.
Nathan Nockels produced the album and more than delivered. I’ve appreciated Nathan’s work since his Sons & Daughters days (precursor to Watermark). I hoped he’d give these songs a more mainstream approach soundwise, and love the result.
In the past, we’ve primarily used Sovereign Grace songwriters for our albums. This time we added Brittany Kauflin, Mary Smith, and Jon Althoff to that list. But on Prayers of the Saints, we also involved a number of friends who are non-Sovereign Grace writers but share our heart to provide accessible, theologically driven, Christ-exalting songs for local churches.
Marc Willerton, a worship pastor from near Vancouver, B.C., contributed two outstanding songs to the album (Lord, Have Mercy and Come, Lord Jesus). Matt Merker (He Will Hold Me Fast), ended up co-writing a number of songs including All Praise to Him, A Christian’s Daily Prayer, and O God of Mercy Hear our Plea. Matt Searles, a dear friend from the UK, penned a song with Joel Sczebel (We Look to You). And Nathan Stiff contributed one of my favorite songs to the project, O Lord, My Rock and My Redeemer.
Singing the Songs
Prayers of the Saints includes a variety of songs, lyrically and musically. New and reworked hymns (All Creatures of Our God and King, All Praise to Him, O Lord, My Rock and My Redeemer, Give me Jesus, A Christian’s Daily Prayer), modern worship songs (He is Our God, Jesus, There’s No One Like You, I Lay it All), folk/indie songs (O God of Mercy, Hear Our Plea, Come, Lord Jesus), songs of confession (Forgiven, Lord, Have Mercy), lament (How Long, O Lord, We Look to You), and anticipation (When We See Your Face, Come, Lord Jesus).
But at the end of the day, producing an album of congregational worship songs is fruitless unless churches actually singing them. We’ve had great feedback thus far, and look forward to seeing God use these songs to serve the body of Christ. To make that easier, we’ve provided all the charts, lead sheets, and piano/vocal scores on the Sovereign Grace Music website. We’re working on choral parts and orchestrations and will put those up as they become available.
What You Can Do
You can help us out by spreading the word through Facebook, comments sections, or by leaving a review on iTunes or Amazon. Most of all, we’d love to hear from you through Facebook, YouTube, or the comments section below how the songs are benefiting you and your church. And if you’re looking for physical CDs you can purchase them from Integrity or Amazon.
We’ve released videos from a few of the songs on YouTube, but plan to eventually post them all. Enjoy!