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).
Plop yourselves down, put your headphones in, and prepare to listen to some theologically rich worship music.
Today we have the Modern Post's 'Water and the Blood'
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The Modern Post is another band with super rich theology. They’re also a little more interesting musically (my personal opinion). Dustin Kensrue is the frontman, and its his raspy pipes you’ll be listening to. He actually plays in the band Thrice too, besides the Modern Post and his own solo stuff. He’s an exquisite songwriter, so I’d encourage you to look up some of his solo stuff if you like his voice (I know not everyone digs it). One other, more superficial, thing that I love is that he makes an effort to rhyme in his songwriting. This puts him head and shoulders above what we typically listen to, as far as I’m concerned. The Worship suddenly becomes more than nice words sung to God (not a bad thing) it becomes poetry and art lifted up as an offering of praise—a beautiful thing made for our wonderful king!
A powerful and glorious call to worship: come and adopt the appropriate behaviour and posture to the merciful king. The first verse is the call to worship, the second is a reminder of who we are as the church militant—the church at work in the world. The third is a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sake, meant to ground everything else.
2. Rock of Ages
A modern take on an old hymn. There are modifications to the verses to make them fit the feel of the song better, and the chorus is original to the songwriter (Dustin Kensrue). The name of the song is Rock of Ages, a reference to Jesus, who is the rock whom the builders rejected (Matt 21:42). There is a reference here: to the rock smote by Moses in Numbers 20:11—The Israelites have been rescued from Israel and are wandering in the desert, hungry and thirsty. God has been providing their needs, but they are complaining (on this occasion) for lack of water. God tells Moses, who is leading the Israelites, to speak to a rock for water to come out of it. Instead, Moses strikes the rock, so God tells him that he will never lead the Israelites out of the desert (it would be Joshua who does that). Jesus is the rock who is smote, killed, for our sake, for our sin—but it is water and blood that comes mingled out, and by which we are covered and cleansed.
3. Suffering Servant
The source text for this song is the suffering servant section in Isaiah 53. This song might sound like an old hymn, but it is actually written in that style but the bands songwriter, Dustin Kensrue. The last sung section (a modified chorus I guess?) is laced with allusion, the principle one being the notion of Christ’s humiliation for the sake of his glorification. This is what Philippians 2:6-11 is referring to. The Servant suffers so that he may be glorified.
4. My One Comfort
This song is super simple: it sounds like a public declaration, but the you* makes it clear that this is a prayer of thanksgiving. I wonder for how many of us is it a comfort to know that we are not our own? That we have actually been bought? The idea of being bought is a little uncomfortable when we live in the age of “freedom”, where “all things are permissible”, according to our culture. Our culture tells us to be free is “to be free from _______ “(obligation, need, people, etc.)—a kind of negative freedom; Jesus makes us “free for pursuing him”, which is what we were made for—positive freedom. This is caught up in the line, “Jesus, you have taken hold of me / And in your grip of grace, I’m finally free.” I would encourage you to meditate on his grip of grace, and how it is a freedom for us as believers.
5. God is Good
A song about how God can be good—or, how we can know that he is good—in a time when that isn’t clear. It is a good thing to remind ourselves that sometimes God says no, but that his yes has already been spoken over us in Jesus Christ: this is the eternal yes, the approval of the God-man Jesus Christ.
6. Grace Alone
You all know this song. We actually played it so many times first semester that I took it off the song bank, lol.
7. The Voice of the Lord
Things start to go a little different from here on out. Thus far, the music has been quite dynamically consistent: that changes here, quite a bit.
This song gets pretty heavy (tone wise), and this is perhaps to provide a contrast to something that we don’t often associate with judgement and grit and power: God’s voice. I spend a lot of time thinking about what it means for God to speak, both at a personal and theological level. There’s a certain profundity to the fact that the God who spoke the world into being speaks to you and me. But it is also a voice accompanied by thunder and lightning, a voice that typically makes its hearers fall to their knees in awe. Our God SPEAKS and that should knock us to our feet. Glory in Hebrew can also refer to something being heavy, and truly this should press us to our knees. And yet it is the same voice that speaks a kind yes over you in Christ Jesus: this is the same voice that comforts us.
8. It’s Not Enough
This song is beautiful. It seems to draw a lot in theme from Ecclesiastes, a book of the Old Testament that decries all of the pleasures of the world as “vanities”, as mere dust in the wind. The chorus here is particularly striking. The song builds and so does the intensity lyrically. I would encourage you to just sit with this song and consider your own self: where do you find your satisfaction?
9. Come Lord Jesus
The futility and passion in the song before seems to be answered by the simplicity of this song. Now more than ever we ought to be praying, “Come Lord Jesus, Come”. Our hope is wrapped up in him. My heart yearns for the return of my Lord and Saviour.
10. Oh God
Even as we pray and sing for Jesus’ return, we know that his Spirit is with us. Jesus sent his Spirit as the paraclete (meaning comforter ) for us during our time in the “Already-not yet” time we find ourselves in. Even as the kingdom has already come and redemption has begun, we still await its total infilling and the completion of God’s plan. I love the bridge too, I recommend you spend some time listening to it and meditating on it. Perhaps you can write it out:
Height nor depth,
Nor anything else can pull us apart
We are joined as one by Your blood;
Hope will rise,
As we become more than conquerors
Through the One who loved the world.
My friends, you are united with Christ through the work of the Spirit and the shedding of His blood, and there is nothing that can separate you from the source of life Himself! Let that be a comfort to you
11. It is Finished
A celebration!! This song is beautiful. It is a wonderful declaration of what Jesus has done and what that means for us: It is finished!! Jesus has done it!!! Let us sing this, one to another, and encourage one another in the faith that we share!
12. Psalm 145
A psalm put to music. I’ve always felt that the song before should be the last one of the album, but I think I’ve changed my mind: it is good and beautiful to sing and rejoice, but there is something more final about this song. This song alternates from singing to God in the beginning to singing to the world in the second half. It’s important to be mindful of who we are singing to in worship music. There is a place for singing to God and a place for singing to one another, believer and unbeliever. But it is all supposed to be shaping our heart and our behaviour, augmenting our orientation in one direction or the other. In this song, it is us praising God for who he is and what he has done, then turning to those around us to declare the same to them. First we bow before Him and humble ourselves, lifting praise. Then we turn to those around is and point to the one who is God Almighty. This God Almighty who is also the suffering servant. He is the God who has spoken a great and resounding and glorious ‘Yes!’ over us in Christ Jesus, by who’s blood we are inseparably united to Him.
The thing I love about the music I’ve been showing you guys is that it is theologically rich. If I am completely honest, I think a lot of the music we sing and listen to is really theologically shallow. It’s rarely clear that the writers are thinking deeply about the words they’re writing, and it’s rarely clear that they’ve explored theology and the scriptures besides cursory perusal to source-text their songs. This isn’t true of everybody, and I don’t doubt that most CCM songwriters have wonderful and vibrant faiths. I also believe that there is a time and place to listen to and sing their music. But I sincerely believe that our worship has the ability to shape us and form us, to take us from eating of milk to nourishing ourselves on spiritual meat (Heb 5:13-14). This is meaty music. It is theologically deep and scripturally saturated.
Jameson is one of the staff members a UCM at UBC. He's currently studying at Regent College in Vancouver. Check out his full bio here.