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).
Got a banger for you this week. I decided to just keep with the Mars Hill band vibe that I’ve been leaning into, and this song felt like a good one for the end of term and beginning of summer (even if this is a hard one). The next album is called ‘Join the Triumph’ by Citizens. Tonally, it’s a little more synth-poppy than their normal stuff—I didn’t love it at first, this album had to grow on me—but it makes for a pretty hopeful, glorious feel. It doesn’t have much nuance, either musically or lyrically, but it is praise from beginning to end! Enjoy
Listen to the full album here: https://open.spotify.com/album/49BOvLIdtkmPrbkFstWHxR?si=3fscQ_oYSp6FA0FlANwrCg
Hit the "read more" button to open the whole post! ------->
1. The Strife is Over
This one opens with a massive synth line coming in; the drums play slightly off it, making for this huge, head-boppy feel. I love it. Lyrically, it is declaring the victory of Christ, the end of strife, and the manifestation of hope. Seems like a good song to sing in this easter season—although our situation is still painful, we can sing along, “And on the darkest depths of pain, / Our living hope will be sustained, / Jesus has won the war; / The strife is over, the strife is over”
2. There is a Fountain
More of a dance vibe, big synth lines with gritty guitar parts underneath. This song sings of the freedom from sin bought by the blood of Jesus: Because of the shedding of his blood, we have been justified by the faith of Christ and in Christ—praise God!!!
3. Saved Secure
This song changes pace a bit, with a keys and voice intro but big choruses. The verses express some of the conflict and difficulties of a life of faith, each ending with the reminder that he calls out to us, he rescues us, and he leads us out—We are saved secure in this fact. We can rest assured, even in the dark night of the faith, that we are saved and secure in his arms, in his reach. Sometimes we forget and it takes his reminding us of this fact. The darkness can feel very real, especially now. His enduring light—that light spoken of in John’s prologue which drives out the darkness—is what we must look to in times of trouble, in the midst of a catastrophe, even in the midst of days that are slightly harder than others. His redeeming light endures, driving out darkness and bringing light to those walking in darkness, as you and I once did.
4. You Brought Me Back To Life
Another fun song! Big chimey synths and guitar power chords underneath. There is a theme here. After the last song, this feels like the reminder of who our God is and what he’s done: brought us back to life, restored our soul, the source of life, and the light in the darkness. I love the pre-chorus in particular, as it seems to express that moment of salvation that some people get to feel: I remember the moment when the reality of who Christ is and what he had done REALLY hit me, when he showed himself to me. It truly felt like my parched lips had finally tasted water—of the sweetest kind!—and what a sight for my tired eyes. It’s my life’s goal to walk in that light that he hit me with, all my days.
5. The Mighty Hand of God
A song declaring the goodness of the God who will never let us go!! The first verse opens with a striking distinction: just think for a moment on the fact that the hand that was nailed to the cross is the same mighty hand that made the heavens and the earth, the same hand that holds us (saved secure) now. His grip will hold! He will never let us go! He will never forsake what his sacrifice has bought, what he has saved: us. Trust in that mighty hand; even as it shaped the world it hung on the cross, pierced. It holds you now.
6. You Have Searched Me
This song sings of the fact that He has searched me, and He knows me—better than I know myself. The singer depicts this image of a believer running away from the very thing that will save him, like a child hiding when he has take his medicine. But it is the kindness of our God that leads us back to repentance, it is memory of his grace (and his ongoing grace) that assures us that He is trustworthy. Even when we fight to get our way, He patiently disarms us with His grace—He restores us even when we don’t know that’s what we need. It can be terrifying to learn that someone knows you: its one of the scary parts about being in a relationship, you gradually become more and more transparent to the other person. The space to hid becomes smaller and smaller until you realize that there is nowhere to go and you’re out in the open before them, exposed. Thats when Jesus meets us with grace and kindness. Where that mighty hand that made the heavens reaches out and gently grabs hold of us, reminding us of who He is and what He’s done—He’s trustworthy.
7. Be Thou My Vision
One of my favourite hymns, and one of my favourite arrangements. So far this album has wound from super pop-synthy and bright and declarative and worked its way down a decent bit. The strife is over and the war has been won, and we have been washed clean in the blood of Jesus. Thus, we’re saved secure and we sing his praises assured of what he’s done for us. We’ve been reminded that its the same hand that was nailed to the cross as was the hand that formed us and knit us when we were in our mother’s womb: that he knows us and he’s searched us. Let us remember his grace and his kindness and recognize that he can lead us into life: let him be our vision and the one leading us.
8. How Great Thou Art
How great he is!!! Let us be driven to praise when we consider what he has done for us Think: one the works of His hands, His work on the cross, and His promised return, and let that drive us to sing, how great he is. Another of my favourite hymns!
9. Oh! Great is Our God!
Big tom and drum part to open up. Stripped down verses, groovy choruses. Much the same as the song before: consider His goodness, His glory, His kindness, and let it drive us to praise Him! To pour forth His fame is to make him known to the world, to declare and proclaim the deeds of our God before the watching world.
10. The Gospel
A super fun song summarizing the gospel! We are saved by the saving life and the redeeming death of one man, the God-man Jesus Christ! I love the trinitarian bridge as well (one of my biggest complaints with a lot of modern worship is that it isn’t particularly trinitarian. If anything, most of it is unitarian. A good resource on this is ‘Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace’ by James Torrance) The Father is revealed to us in the Son by the Spirit; We are saved by Faith in the Son by the Spirit before the Father; Now we sing praises to the Father through the Son by the Spirit. The beautiful dance of our tri-personed God, three persons existing in one united substance, making not three Gods (tri-theism), but God in three persons (the Trinity). There needs to be more of this in our worship! How are we supposed to praise God when we don’t even acknowledge him in his fullest being!!!
11. Greatly To Be Praised
Even as this song bops, let that refrain, ‘our God is great’, be working its way through our hearts and minds again and again. This song is short, sweet, and simple. There is one thing to sing, how great and worthy of all praise our God is.
12. Father You Are All We Need
This song breaks from the feel of what has come before. The lyrics rhyme!!!—We love that!!! This song seems to stand very stable and slightly removed from what has come before. Almost as if the time for singing and dancing and joying and praising him has come and gone, and we return now simply to declare truth about him and to lay ourselves before him, acknowledging our need giving him our lives. This song is framed around the Lord’s prayer, hence the use of Father, his place in heaven, giving our daily bread, forgiving our trespasses, etc. They all culminate (that whole prayer culminated) in the simple declaration that, “Father, You are all we need”. Would he give us faith, he would he give us guidance, would he give and BE our hope! We have been bought relationship with the God of the universe, the one who made us, the one who loves us, the one who is love. The one who cares for us, who meets our needs, who sustains us and is gracious to us. Let us lay ourselves down before him in humble submission and contrite acknowledgement of our dependence, lifting him higher even as we sink lower.
13. Hiding Place
This song continues the ‘broken down’ feel of the song before. It’s just guitar and voice, it feels more classic Citizens. Each verse opens with a minor chord but the last before the chorus jumps to the root chord early at the end—this song is a declaration of praise in the midst of a hard place. Like I said at the beginning, this album is praise from beginning to end. Let our lives be the same.
14. Before the Throne
*I recommend skipping the two remixes if you’re listening to the deluxe version of the album, as they suck. Lyrically they’re great, but musically they make me weep (actually the second one isn’t the worst). Either way, just skip to Before the Throne*
Praise from beginning to end. One of the more glorious and uplifting hymns is broken down and made somber praise. If we can be Christians who can sing song like this in the midst of tragedy, in the midst of hardship, we will have done well. Christians don’t praise God in the midst of darkness because they’re naive or foolish. We praise God when things are hard because we believe orienting ourselves towards him in praise is the way we are supposed to BE. We’re not ignorant to hardship, we’re not blind, our hearts and minds are set on something greater. We worship and sing to the creator of the universe, and it is in recognizing his magnitude, his greatness—*it is in reminding ourselves of what he has done in the past*—that we are able to make it through the things that stand against us. If we can learn to praise him from the beginning to the end, not just of an hour long album, of a 24 hour day, or a 7 day week, but from the beginning of our life to the end, right through, in ever moment, we will have done very very well. It’s a hard thing, I don’t say we need to learn to do this lightly. But it is so worth it. Our God is greatly to be praised, and he will be praised whether we sing or not. But we GET to sing!!! It’s an opportunity. Make the most of it.
This song is praise from beginning to end. There’s very little dip in from this theme and from the declarative feel. I chose it because I feel that it would be good to just praise him, to just declare his name and praise him for his good works. There is little nuance in this album, little distinction. It’s not my favourite Citizens album—‘A Mirror Dimly’ is a far better, more nuanced, more theologically complex album—but it fits the mood that I wanted best: one of joyous praise. There hasn’t been much joy these days, even while the weather has been beautiful. So listen to this album and try to sing along, even if its just in your mind. Try to have the lyrics before you—not to meditate on, per se, but to sing along with. Praise him.
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.