Near the end of 2005, I offered to send a free copy of the Sovereign Grace children’s CD Awesome God to the first 50 people who would post a review on their blog. THANKS to all of you who responded! We read every one and were grateful for the encouragement and helpful feedback.
I wanted to let you hear what others are saying about the CD, partly to give you a better feel for the CD, but more importantly to provoke your thinking in the area of songs for children.
Joshua Richie at Deception in the Church picked up on the intentional progression of the songs.
“The whole CD seems like one complete message that flows from creation to the culmination of salvation. Brilliant! That God has created us to worship Him, yet sin enters in and causes us to stand in judgment of God, but that Christ came to reconcile us to God is what scripture shows. Our Sovereign God is working out everything for His glory.”
He later posted an update to his original post that shows how a children’s CD is meant to supplement parent/child communication: He says of his 3 ½ year old:
“She is asking a ton of questions in regards to the lyrics. For instance, on one song she asked us, "Why does she say that ‘no one is good’?" Apparently, my little girl is not yet convinced that she is a sinner. She also asked, "What does ‘rose again’ mean?" and "Why did Jesus die?" As best as we can, we continue to explain these things in ways that she can understand. To be sure, she is being taught these things at home and church. But when she hears the same concept expressed in different terminology, she gets curious. So these scriptural teachings are being reinforced through the music she hears and we, as parents, continue to have the privilege of sharing Christ with our very own daughter.”
Paul Martin of Kerux Noemata (now there’s a unique blog name), had a similar experience:
“As the father of four kids I can attest to the benefit of these songs. My 4 year old can sing the lyrics to almost all of every song, while the older ones walk around the house either humming or singing them. This has led to great conversations about the nature of God and their own standing with the Saviour. More than that, it is planting in their receptive minds true truth.”
Eric Schumacher at An Infant in a Cradle posted a summary of all twelve songs and then talks about the interplay of music and lyrics.
“In worship music, the tune should serve the text. This is modeled on Awesome God. Our children enjoyed the tunes, of which there is a good mixture of “fast” and “slow” (for lack of a more musically-correct term). These songs will engage young people, helping them to memorize the lyrics.”
Mark and Steph of WordAndSpirit also included a summary of all twelve songs and appreciated out attempt to move beyond well-worn phrases:
“Musically speaking the tunes are good, with some great catchy choruses. The songs cover a great range of subjects, and generally speaking they avoid both the meaningless clichés and doctrinal jargon that blight so many of our worship songs.”
Mike Frizell of A Pilgrim’s Progress acknowledged:
“Those who have more conservative tastes may be put off by the music. It’s definitely not the kind of music you hear in AWANA.”
Jim Selkirk, who writes a blog from Canada called Faith Classics, was one of those who commended the lyrics, presentation, and vocals, but questioned the musical styles:
“While it is true that there are many different ‘tastes’ in music, I cannot but think that there are some elements of the way an instrument is played that accentuate the fleshly nature of our fallen self. What do I mean? Well it is fairly obvious that romantic music is designed to create a certain ‘mood’ in the listener. Other music such as heavy metal causes the listener to feel intensely powerful and invincible.”
I thought his review was fair and thoughtful and posted a response on his site. Here’s a portion of what I said:
“Our understanding of how music works in worshipping God is probably more similar than you’d think. We, too, never want the music to overpower the lyrics, but rather serve them. Probably the main area we see things differently is what music "causes" us to do. Music moves us emotionally, but there is a powerful associative effect that can be trained and/or changed. Heavy music doesn’t automatically cause someone to "feel intensely powerful and invincible," although that kind of music is often used to voice those attitudes.
“Having said that, we aren’t married to a particular style, and encourage singing songs in different ways, to reinforce the principle that there is no music that God prefers above all others. Rather, it’s our job to use music wisely and responsibly, and to find ways to glorify God in various genres, rather than just a few.”
In his Jan. 12 review, Joe Fleener of Emeth Aletheia (another site that was probably easy to secure a domain name for) also loved the lyrics but had questions about the music.
We have no illusions that we’ll ever produce a project that will be acceptable to every musical preference or theological perspective. But in the mean time, we’ll continue to seek to write and promote music that will serve churches and parents in proclaiming the glories of God and the Savior to future generations.