Music Mondays are a weekly reflection on a different Christian album and artist written and shared by community members of UCM at UBC. Most modern day Christians get the brunt of their theology from music these days, so we're digging into these songs to let you know what's going on and why. For weekly updates, go check out our social media (@ucmatubc on IG and UCM at UBC on fb).
Hey everyone! I present to you this week's Worship Music Monday album:)) I hope you guys enjoy!
Album: Inheritance, by Audrey Assad
Here is the album link: https://open.spotify.com/album/1SCFaSCDkVrIzHed69fWMH?si=UsQuwSh2RVCRZjdC21hmJw
Inheritance is a truly elegant and peaceful album that contains adaptations of older, traditional hymns as well as more recent songs. Assad’s ability to weave them together seamlessly is one thing that I think makes this album extra special. Whether you’re feeling relaxed or anxious, this album is great to listen to because of its steady rhythm and tone that helps to center the heart and mind on God. Maybe don’t play it when you’re driving though, it’s easy to fall into a peaceful sleep while listening to it.
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1. Ubi Caritas (“Where love is”)
Here is the link to the English translation, ‘cause I know there’s still a few of us out there who don’t speak Latin: https://www.musixmatch.com/lyrics/Audrey-Assad/Ubi-Caritas/translation/english
Ubi Caritas is a beautiful, haunting hymn of which the melody is said to have originated as far back as the late 8th century. Assad’s arrangement of this hymn is quite different from the original, but it carries a charming, medieval vibe; it’s hard not to imagine yourself sitting in an age-old cathedral in Rome while you listen to it. The hymn is commonly sung on Maundy Thursday in the Catholic Church. Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter Sunday that commemorates the Last Supper when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.
In her adaptation of Ubi Caritas, Assad switches up the melody to make it her own, all the while retaining the traditional feel of the hymn. The repeating line of each verse, “Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est,” means that where charity and love are, God is there. The hymn urges us to love one another just as God loves us. It speaks of God’s infinite presence that pours out for all who love Him and seek Him. “Cessent iurgia maligna, cessent lites” (“Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease”) – this line carries an important message: when things around us don’t have a clear answer, or when we become caught up in the confusions of our world, if we search for love, we will find Him.
2. Holy, Holy, Holy
Philippians 4:7 NIV - “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Assad’s “Holy, Holy, Holy” sounds unfamiliar to the original version in the beginning, but the drumbeat is a nice addition, in my opinion, and sets the pace for the rest of the song. As the song progresses, a new layer of harmony is added with each verse, which made it very fun to listen to.
My favorite line in the song, “All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea,” describes the utter vastness of the land He has created and all the creatures in the land He made according to His image. This line reminds me of the time I was sitting in science class in grade 9 (bit of a stretch, but bear with me). We were in the middle of our astronomy unit, and the teacher was explaining to us just how BIG the universe was and how it’s still expanding. The size of the universe is so big that it’s basically beyond our comprehension – 28 billion light-years in diameter, one light year being 9.46 trillion km (or 5.88 trillion miles)!!! Unbelievable, isn’t it? And this is only the observable size!
It beats me how they got these numbers (I avoided math classes like the flu when I came to UBC), but I do know this: this universe was made by Him and even though the size is too much for us to understand, I find that that is the beauty about it. God’s love and peace transcends all understanding, so although we are just a tiny blue dot called Earth in a giant universe, He created all of us and we are a part of His beautiful creation.
3. Be Thou My Vision
God is our Vision, our Wisdom and our true Word. The lyrics in this piece display the simple truths of God and who He is. Despite these truths, it’s often easy to forget or forgo them amid everyday life. I remember hearing a pastor say in a sermon to “feel God’s presence throughout our day” or something along those lines. Anyway, I had a hard time wrapping my head around what this was supposed to look like. How was I supposed to feel God’s presence when I was doing laundry, or homework? Obviously, I was thinking of it too literally.
For me, resting in God’s presence was something I often did only if I was stressed or at my lowest points. I felt bad for only coming to Jesus when I was lonely and forgetting about Him when I was happy and things were fine in my life. I know that this is a common struggle with others too, and when our lives are so fast-paced, it feels as though there’s no choice but to solely focus on what’s in front of us, ignoring the peace that God gives. I realized eventually that throughout our days, God is all around us! He’s present in the friendly greeting between you and your neighbor when you leave your house in the morning, and He’s there in the forest amidst His own creation when you go for a nature walk. God’s presence and love is all around, and sometimes, we forget to realize it.
4. I Wonder as I Wander
Job 37:5 NIV - “God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.”
Another song with mysterious, medieval vibes. This time, you might picture yourself on a horse travelling through the silk roads in 1257AD:)
“I wonder as I wander out under the sky, how Jesus my Saviour did come for to die.” The tone of Assad’s singing in this arrangement gives the impression that she is asking a question: She’s saying that she wonders just how it came to be that Jesus would die for ordinary people like you and me. It’s a question that really strikes the heart and reveals just how deep Jesus’ love is for us that He would sacrifice Himself for our sins.
5. How Can I Keep from Singing
John 14:27 NIV - “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
“The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart, a fountain ever springing!” This line speaks truth: each day, we are renewed in Him. Each day we re-discover Christ’s love and peace. We need not fear the darkness that surrounds us because His light shines within us.
6. Oh, the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus (feat. Fernando Ortega)
John 15:13 NIV - “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
I remember hearing this song as a child on the radio around Christmastime (back when people still listened to the radio regularly), but had never picked up the title. When I started listening to it all these years later on Assad’s album, I was struck with a wave of nostalgia, which I’m sure will happen to some of you guys too. The imagery in this one is absolutely beautiful. The ocean is used as a metaphor to describe the love of Jesus, exclaiming to us that Jesus’ love is “vast, unmeasured, boundless, free.”
7. Jesus’ blood Never Failed Me Yet
Matthew 26:27-28 NIV - “Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’”
An older version of this song was composed by Gavin Bryars in 1971. I was listening to Bryars’ recording to try and see how Assad’s version compared to his in musical tone and was shocked to find that it was twenty-six minutes long. After consulting the super-scholarly-wikipedia, I discovered that Gavin Bryars was filming a documentary about people living in poverty in London when he came across a homeless man who was singing a verse of “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet” over and over. Bryars said that the man was not intoxicated but singing the verse with an earnest and faithful tone. Bryars later turned this recording of the man’s singing into a twenty-six-minute piece with instrumentals! (It’s on Spotify if you’re curious about it). The earnestness of which the homeless man sings this tune is beautiful; although he had nothing, he looked to Jesus because he knew that Jesus was his everything. If you ever have a few minutes on your hands, have a read about the story of the unnamed man behind this song, it’s quite heartwarming.
Assad’s adaptation of this piece is quite different from Bryars’, and you’ll be relieved to know that it isn’t twenty-six minutes long. Her version has an eerie, mysterious tone, but in a good way. You’ll probably get goose bumps.
8. New Every Morning
John 1:1-5 NIV - “In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
This one is another favorite of mine in this album; it’s musically simple and serene and really helps to calm the heart and settle the head. It speaks of how Christ’s “mercies are new every morning.” Regardless of how unsettled our hearts may feel in the night, in the morning, God gifts us with His mercy and forgiveness anew. We are undeserving, but through Christ we have come to experience the infinite love of God.
9. It is Well with My Soul
2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV - “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
When the unnamed man behind Bryars’ “Jesus’ blood Never Failed me Yet” (see above) was singing over and over to himself, he may have been trying to say that “it was well with his soul” for “Christ had regarded [his] helpless estate, and hath shed His own blood for [his] soul,” like the lines in this song.
Most of us our fortunate enough to have a warm home and a family to go home to, but the story of the unnamed homeless man made me realize just how much I sometimes take these things for granted. Even when the man had no home, and no family to go home to, he still said Jesus’ name, over and over. This is what we are striving for as Christians: to trust Jesus and have faith down to our cores that even when things around us fall, we will be able to say over and over “Jesus’ blood never failed me yet.” That is not to say that things in life won’t shake us and make us question our faith, but rather, it’s to say that part of the journey of being a Christian is learning to meet God again and again even when we face hardships in life.
10. Even Unto Death
The first line of this song: “Jesus, the very thought of you, it fills my heart with love” describes so well the power of Jesus’ name alone. The lyrics of this song boast of Christ’s glory and boundless love for us. This is definitely one of the more powerful sounding arrangements in this album, but Assad does a wonderful job of balancing the softer moments with the more dynamic parts.
11. Abide with Me
The final song of the album, Abide with Me, is another classic hymn. I found this song very emotionally powerful but tranquil at the same time. The musical ending of this piece is a real treat; I won’t spoil it, but if you listen to Ubi Caritas and then listen all the way to the end of this song, you’ll understand what I’m getting at.
The lyrics in this song really spoke to me (cliché phrase, but I didn’t know how else to word it). The last verse of the song, “Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee,” carries an important part of the Word. I sometimes find myself caught up in worrying about what others might think of me (cliché phrase number 2), but when I remember that all these worries are about temporary things that won’t matter in the end, I am comforted. In Philippians 2:3 it says: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” I don’t know about you guys, but I find it hard not to be selfish sometimes, especially in a society like ours that drives us to achieve, achieve, achieve.
As we grow in Christ, we learn that “Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away.” These things that you are worried about now, whether it be getting into a specific program at school, or landing a co-op position at a reputable company, are temporary, earthly things. That’s not to say that it’s bad to strive to achieve these things, but rather it’s to say that we shouldn’t look to our achievements to measure up our self-worth. The only constant in our life and in our eternity is Jesus, and He alone is enough to sustain us.
Christen has been a worship leader with UCM at UBC for the last two years.