“My heart is stirred by a noble theme” is such a great best phrase to describe Indelible Grace’s 2012 album “Joy Beyond the Sorrow: Indelible Grace VI.” The impressive production and growth of the artists in the Indelible Grace’s group alongside unrelentingly gospel-centered lyrics make this album a simply wonderful experience.
Musically, the album is filled with accessible melodies, surrounded by an artistic, elegant, country rock sound. It handled with professionalism that doesn’t sound fake. Genuine sound, authentic structures, no need to gloss and glam.
Theologically, it hits the nail on the head. It continually emphasizes what the Bible does–salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone.
The arrangements aren’t overdone, or too dense and multi-layered. The album really breathes with helpful space, exemplified in songs like “Thy Will Be Done” and “For the Bread Which You Have Broken.” It feels more mainstream than their previous, more deliberately Americana works prior–straight beats, acoustic downstrums, soulful electric solos, plenty of tasteful keys. They expertly add touches of strings and country styles, and other unique instrumentations like pedal steel and banjo.
There are a few mid-tempo hymns, like “Pensive, Doubting, Fearful Heart,” with its a bluegrass backbeat, “Until the Daybreak,” and Celtic turnarounds, and “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed.” There are some exhilarating electric guitar solos with solid tone and fingering. I’m thinking about one moment in particular at about the 2:10 mark in “Did Christ Over Sinners Weep.”
Circulating for quite a while in RUF (Reformed University Fellowship/Kevin Twit) communities, “From the Depths of Woe” has made its rounds in many (mainly Presbyterian) churches. Psalm 130 is such a difficult song to capture, and some of the original versions seemed a bit too happy sounding in light of the Scripture’s lament. This album proves that a tasteful arrangement and tweaking of the tempo, singing styles, and chord structures can make a world of difference. The slower tempo softens its melody’s syncopation, and the opening two verses which ride around the relative minor of the key do the trick. And in the third verse, the beat comes up and major chord strikes, exploding in majesty, perfectly complementing the Scriptural text. Kudos to Kevin and his mates.
As with every other Indelible Grace record, there is a fidelity to the Gospel here at every turn. Some moments bring me to tears, such as “Upon a Life I Did Not Live”:
Upon a life I have not lived
Upon a death I did not die
Another’s life, another’s death
I stake my whole eternity
Not on the tears which I have shed
Not on the sorrows I have known
Another’s tears, another’s griefs
On these I rest, on these alone
How can one improve on the direct, simple truth here? I’ve sung this multiple times at our church. If the Holy Spirit resides within you, how can you not be touched by the retleling of the Gospel story in your heart yet again?
One of my favorite texts on the album is the rendition of Horatius Bonar’s “Did Christ Over Sinners Weep,” which functions as a “preach the gospel to yourself” kind of song:
Did Christ over sinners weep, and shall our cheeks be dry?
Let floods of penitential grief burst forth from every eye.
Behold the Son of God in tears the angels wondering see!
Hast thou no wonder, O my soul?
He shed those tears for thee!
He wept that we might weep, might weep for sin and shame;
He wept to show His love for us and bid us love the same.
Then tender be our hearts, our eyes in sorrow dim;
Till every tear from every eye be wiped away by Him.
Sadly, many who accuse traditional hymnody of being cold, stoic, and emotionless haven’t truly experienced the tradition’s best. This song is filled with human emotion, exposing the best meeting place of head and heart to be where the Gospel’s theology tightly grasps your heart.
You’re truly in for a treat with this album and certain to be encouraged with its life-giving texts, artfully framed by fitting, beautiful music.