I was first exposed to The Corner Room in 2017 when I was recommended their album Love Never Ends (I wrote a review last year here), a joyous 12-minute suite in 1 Corinthians 13. Adam Wright published the second album dedicated to the Book of Psalms in May 2018.
I humbly submit my review below, with hearty endorsement. It was helpful for me to approach each song individually, with the relevant text in hand, and to soak in the Word in tandem with my open Bible. I often found myself worshiping along, forgetting my notes!
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!”
This album kicks off with a foot-stomping, vibrant tune that matches the timbre of the text – “Come into his presence with singing!” Perfectly capturing the admonishment from Ephesians 5:18 to be filled with the Spirit of God, evidenced in joy (v. 19). Absolutely love the vocal layering throughout, it accentuates the text’s call to worship directed to the congregation.
“The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress”
There’s such rich, precious assurance in this song. The text speaks of the immovable nature of our God, and the song almost captures the waters “roar and foam” with the triplet feel. My favorite part is the echoing on the words of God – “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” It’s just a lovely ballad.
“May the Lord cut off all flattering lips”
David is crying out for help because the godly remnant appears to be shrinking. The backdrop is Saul’s reign of spiritual decay. But again, the Lord again comes to our rescue. He has had enough. “I will now arise” is one of the most powerful statements you’ll find from the mouth of our God. Perhaps the trickiest text to try and adapt verbatim, but it is done well.
“O God, You are my God”
This song is jubilant and fun because it is so joy-filled, matching the text so well. Seems to be almost a caribbean flavor to the music. We see desiring after God, praising Him, remembering His works, and rejoicing in Him. Even with the somewhat sober turn in verse 9 is met in equal measure to the text (“[they] shall go down into the depths of the earth”) with confidence in the sovereign rule of God and decree judgement over sinful man.
“Give me life in Your ways”
You can really get a taste of the organic bluegrass chops on the album, and it’s sweet (true story, Adam is part of a local bluegrass band Act of Congress). But I’m definitely partial to the acoustic version above, with vocals by CJ Blount and Connie Skellie. Beautiful blending vocals. Some excellent building melodies on the statements of conviction, such as in verses 37-38 “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things” and “Give me life in Your ways.” I anticipate this being at the top of my playlist for a long, long time.
“Let the peoples praise you, O God”
A doxology of sorts, fits well this familiar passage. I think this one has potential to be converted to a congregational song, it’s accessible and hymn like. There’s an international flavor to this, with the conga drum and background vocals. Makes sense, since 5 of 7 verses mention “nations” or “peoples”, fitting the context of Psalm 65-66. A future hope that resonates with the scene in Revelation 5. Great addition to this album.
“Such knowledge… it is high; I cannot attain it”
There is a gauntlet of doctrine laid down by David here, and sometimes in our affinity for this Psalm, we overlook it. But it’s done in a way to address God directly with affection and childlike faith, as one who has been laid bare before Him. This song reflects this so well, musically piecing each lyrical phrase thoughtfully and methodically with a single guitar accompanying.
“You are there!”
I love how this song emphasizes the resting certainty of God being omnipresent, where David supposes the infinite and immensity of His being. While some may seek to run and hide (see Job), the believer understands that it is in fact God’s presence itself, residing with us, that enables us to enjoy Him fully. Musically, the lilting cadence brought a smile to my face as I pondered these truths. eventually leading to a moment of thankful prayer.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart!”
Pious is the word that came to mind. The text applies God’s omniscience, acknowledging the care God has taken of him throughout his life. David then defies the wicked, “Depart from me, you bloody men,” knowing their end is fixed in ruin. But he closes – knowing his own anxieties and fears – with a prayer for God to also search his heart, coming from a posture of humility. The song peaks with these words of honesty and declaration to the ear of God. Well done.
“You are my Lord; I have no good apart from You”
Interestingly, especially with the exuberance expressed in the first song on the album, the final offering is subdued and reserved. I think it works really well. This is a personal hymn, utilizing the personal pronoun “my” over a dozen times. I love how Matthew Henry describes it – “This psalm has something of David in it, but much more of Christ.” David’s only delight is in the Lord, and anything and everything good comes from his Lord.
Writing music for Scripture songs is not for the faint of heart and takes an acute skill. There must be sobriety when you handle the text of Scripture. Namely, it is difficult to have literal faithfulness to the text, and still create pleasant and sensible structure to the music. Adam Wright demonstrates just that again in Psalm Songs: Volume II. The music “makes sense” and engages you with joy and purpose, and truly brings the Scripture alive.