Hey there, everybody! This is Jameson coming to you with a little update: Taylor and I are planning to resurrect the UCM@UBC Blog this term, hopefully getting into some kind of rhythm of content by the time second term rolls around. One regular item we are going to incorporate is an Album of the Month—much like the Album of the Week that we ran through the summer but on a less frequent basis.
Speaking for myself, I thoroughly enjoyed writing album reviews over the summer. It gave me a means to practice my writing as well as my listening, to think deeply about the media and message that we regularly ingest as Christians, and to start evaluating—a little more seriously—what makes some (Christian) art better than others. It was and is my hope that y'all would find time to listen to these albums and to peruse the commentary that I and others provide. Going forward, Taylor and I are hoping to add other regular content for you guys, as well as creating a space for one-off posts from you! So if blog-writing (or writing in general) is something you are interested in or something you would like to practice, let us know! Thank you for reading my little note, now please enjoy the first 'Album of the Month', courtesy of Christen James.
“Unknown” – an album by Mosaic MSC
A very contemporary Christian album with some fresh sounds and instrumental arrangements. Might be a good album to play softly in the background if you’re trying to subtly evangelize to your non-Christian friends or to that one family member who still assumes all Christian songs are centuries-old hymns accompanied by an organ (nothing against old fashioned hymns though – there’s a reason they’re still sung after all this time!).
Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and I hope you enjoy the album!
“Back To You”
This song was a nice upbeat way to start off the album. There’s a wide array of electronic instrumentation (aka whoever wrote the music for this really had fun with the synthesizer) in this one. I really enjoyed reading through the lyrics for “Back To You” – they’re very clear in their message. A line that stuck out for me was “We will rise up, running through the fire in the dark when our eyes can’t see” – the fire maybe representing our everyday struggles or the feeling of having lost direction. Jesus is our map’s Destination, but He’s equally our Journey. No matter how lost we become, if we turn around, Jesus will be there to guide us back Home.
“So I Sing”
We’ve all had days when waking up in the morning was a challenge. Facing the day itself was enough of an ordeal and there was nothing else we wanted to do besides stay in bed. But despite all that, we got up and out of bed anyway (okay, well most of the time). We forced ourselves to get through the day, face situations we didn’t want to face and talk to people we didn’t feel like talking to. “When all of my strength is gone, you carry me” – nothing could be more true about our God. He is the one who carries us through overwhelming times when we feel too heavy to carry ourselves. “Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118: 5-6 ESV). The Lord is on your side, so you need not feel helpless.
Probably one of the more emotional songs on this album, “New Heart” has beautiful expressive lyrics with a not-so-subtle reference to Robert Frost’s famous poem “The Road Not Taken” in line 5 of the opening verse: “I’m on the road less travelled.” The road as a follower of Jesus isn’t a cakewalk to say the least, and maybe that’s why the writer chose to refer to the path of a Christian as the “road less travelled”. Being a follower of Jesus means you may have to give up certain ways of living or doing things, but ultimately, these things you have to let go of pale in comparison to all that you will have to gain: knowing Jesus and His eternal love. Even if the road to discipleship is filled with challenges and obstacles to overcome, the Lord will be by your side every step of the way. Jesus, “you’re the light that will guide me through the night, you are with me in the battle.” Mold a New Heart in me, Lord, for I long to have my eyes opened to see only You. Amen.
“Unknown” is a thematic continuation of “New Heart” that speaks of how Jesus is our guide in the darkest of times. The meaning of the album’s title (“Unknown”) is revealed: the “Unknown” is the path less travelled. The “Unknown” is what lies beyond, and what a wonderful gift it is that we have Jesus guiding us with His light the whole way. The song also speaks of God’s endless wonder and mystery. There is much about God’s ways we will never understand, yet He brings us near to Him no matter what the circumstances, and no matter how daunting the Unknown may seem.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is from God” (Ephesians 2:8 NIV)
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV).
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV)
“King of All (Remix)”
I rarely listen to remixes of Christian music, so this was quite an interesting experience the first time around. When this song first started playing, I had to double check that my phone hadn’t accidentally shuffled itself onto some random EDM album. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the musical arrangement for this one, particularly during the chorus of high pitched and mercilessly autotuned “ohs.” Otherwise, it’s relatively catchy.
A few verses I thought fit well with the message of the song:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV).
“Your Love (Remix)”
The second and final remix of the album. I liked the upbeat and ethereal tone of this one. The lyrics boast about God’s immense love that conquers and overcomes any fears we face. God’s love reaches every depth of our hearts, even the parts of ourselves we are ashamed of. We can’t hide from the Lord’s love because He “breaks through the doors of our souls,” as the song exclaims.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV).
I love that verse in the bible – it’s a pretty lengthy definition of Love, but with good reason; worldly love is nothing compared to the perfect love of Jesus. As followers of Jesus, we strive to love like He did. Humans are prone to impatience, unkindness, envy, pride and the like, but that doesn’t mean that we should give up on trying to love like Jesus did. After all, this perfect love, as described in 1 Corinthians, is not a love born out of our own capacity: it’s a Heavenly Love crafted by God Himself and it is through Jesus that we can share it with the people around us.
“Tremble” is probably a personal favorite out of the whole album. It has a beautiful musical arrangement and it’s a song that evokes a lot of emotion too. “Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble, Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear” – this line really captures Jesus’s power to defy evil. Often, it’s the darkness that makes us tremble in fear, but Jesus is our Savior and no cave is too dark for His light to shine through. “Your name is a light that the shadows can’t deny” – no darkness can stand in His way; His glory shines brighter than the sun!
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV)