Indelible Grace never disappoints me.
Seriously, even if I can’t sing it well myself, there is such a rich quality to hearing what I can only describe as love for authentic musicality and unfiltered artistic sound. The unashamed nature of allowing acoustic sounds to nakedly ring. It makes the music accessible to someone like me who desires to replicate it in the peace of my home, studio and even my church. “Jesus, Lead Us With Thy Power” is a great example of this, which feels like a sundown campfire sing-a-long, with harmonica to boot. “God, Your Everlasting Light” has a similarly heartwarming feel, with banjo and bluegrass vocals.
To be perfectly honest, “Heal Us” caught me off guard #2 single on the album. But you are drawn in immediately with the smooth, languid tones of Sojourn’s own Blessing Offor as he sings of dependence on Emmanuel,
Our faith is feeble, we confess
We faintly trust Thy word
But will You pity us the less?
Be that far from You Lord!
Heal us, Emmanuel, here we are
We long to feel Thy touch
Deep wounded souls to Thee we fly
O Savior hear our cry
I absolutely love the Orleans jazz feel of the bazz pops and organ!
This album employed more steel guitar than I recall from previous albums, but did nothing to take away from the reverent feel of worship. Clever driving melodies with interesting percussion choices are classic Matt Smith contributions. He sings the arrangement of Psalm 103 in “O My Soul With All Thy Powers.” The added chorus is nothing more than “bless the Lord, o my soul”, but well placed. “My Faith Has Found A Resting Place” is a hymn that the average lay person will likely recognize. While I’ll always be partial to the Norse Creed tune, this is catchy and I’ve probably listened to it more than any other single on the album. “Love Divine All Loves Excelling” utilizes creative syncopated melody lines which, while perhaps not inclusive to the novice vocalist, actually gives more space to ponder the lyric.
I was so pleased to see the inclusion of the long forgotten hymn “Jerusalem Heavenly Home”, written by John Ryland. An English calvinist preacher, who is said to have preached nearly 9,000 sermons in his ministry, paints the picture of the remnant’s longing for eternity’s hope. The haunting synthesizer and pads add such a dreamlike picture of the future New City.
The shuffling and muted trumpets in “He Lives, The Great Redeemer Lives” . While there’s a lot to digest in such a quick tempo, the line-by-line rhyming encourages me to use this as a Scriptural tool for kids in song. The lyrics itself paint Jesus as a conquering hero. And it’s just plain fun, too!
“Thou Art My Life” has always been a precious source of lament, written by Charlotte Elliott who endured cruel hardship nearly her entire life. Emily DeLoach mid range vocal is such a perfect match, zealously and passionately exuding a voice that brings to mind a heart filled with grief and trial and sorrow, and yet – oh yet – is looking upon the face of our only source of comfort and strength, when all others cease.
And no IG album would be complete with the inclusion of Sandra McCracken’s uniquely wonderful folk sound. Here she guides us through a revival of the great preacher William Williams’s “Speak, I Pray Thee Gentle Jesus.”
Of course, there is always an incredible single that captures your heart, and leaves you speechless with musical and spiritual delight! For me, its Kevin Twit’s arrangement of “Come Ye Souls By Sin Afflicted” which the album is affectionately named after,
Come ye souls by, sin afflicted,
Bowed with fruitless, sorrow down;
By the broken, law convicted,
Through the cross, behold the crown;
Look to Jesus; Look to Jesus; Look to Jesus;
Mercy flows through Him alone.
And at the 3:50 mark, the congregational participation is simply surreal as they sing in unison with little accompaniment,
Sweet as home to, pilgrims weary,
Light to newly, opened eyes,
Like full springs in, deserts dreary,
Is the rest, the cross supplies;
And the wall of sound captures my mind’s image of sojourners and refugees of the Cross and heaven’s kingdom journeying sorrowful, yet joyful up the slope to that happy, higher ground,
All who taste it, All who taste it, All who taste it
Shall to rest immortal rise.
I am forever thankful for Indelible Grace’s influence on me as a musician and worship leader. But my own spiritual experience when I listen and partake of these songs is a treasure. When skilled musicians are able to bring dying and dead hymns back to life to be enjoyed by even just one more generation, there is godly pleasure to be found.