Today is the official release date for Together for the Gospel Live II, the follow-up album to Together for the Gospel Live that came out in 2008. This new album contains 16 hymns, old and new, that we sang at the 2010 and 2012 Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, KY.
Together for the Gospel emerged out of the relationships between four men: Mark Dever, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, and C.J. Mahaney. They found their experience of fellowship in and around the gospel so rich and encouraging they wanted to share it with others. So every other year, along with a few other speakers, they gather with thousands of mostly pastors, and seek to explore, revel in, and apply the riches of the gospel in teaching and song.
Like most of you, I’m used to singing hymns and modern songs accompanied by drums, bass, guitar, and keys. If your church’s music is more traditional, your singing might be accompanied by a piano, organ, and orchestra. Both settings can be used to amplify, complement, and support the truths we’re proclaiming.
At Together for the Gospel, we leave the band at home and I just lead from a piano. No pulsating drums, crashing cymbals, sonic synth textures, or loops (although I appreciate and use all of them in other contexts). The simplicity of the instrumentation combined with the depth of thousands of mostly men’s voices has a unique effect. Truth sings.
Most people are unaware that music almost wasn’t a part of Together for the Gospel because of the possibly divisive effect. The people who attend Together for the Gospel are a diverse group, musically speaking, and there’s always the potential to offend someone. Singing these hymns with simple accompaniment enables us to express and encourage our unity in the gospel rather than undermine it. And for that, I’m very grateful.
This isn’t the most musically creative album you’ll ever listen to. It’s not the most sonically advanced recording you’ll ever buy. Together for the Gospel Live II definitely doesn’t feature a lead vocalist that will “wow” you.
What this album does feature is profoundly rich biblical gospel truths, passionately sung by individuals who have been saved and transformed by Jesus Christ. The lyrics and melodies wash over you, feeding your soul, inviting you to join in. Which is exactly what a “worship album” is meant to do.
Here are a few things that make this album different from the first Together for the Gospel Live album:
1. 16 new hymns. New and old, familiar and unfamiliar, all pointing our minds and affections to the glory of Christ in the gospel.
2. Better sound quality. With more people we were able to capture a fuller congregational sound with fewer extraneous noises. Also, I think the piano sounds richer this time.
3. More singing, less talking. While I’m a strong advocate of talking between and during songs at the right times and for the right reasons, (I explain my thoughts in this seminar), we included less of my speaking on this album. Per Mark Dever’s direction, I also interjected comments during the songs less frequently. I think both changes make for a more enjoyable album.
4. Lyrics included: This time we printed all the lyrics in the liner notes, which are also included as part of the MP3 download. Makes it easier to add your voice.
5. 4 part hymn arrangements. You can download the 4 part arrangement for most of the songs (public doman and Sovereign Grace) from the Sovereign Grace Music website. Just click on the song title and the chart will be available for download on the left side of your screen.
6. Simpler accompaniment. Mark Dever and I work on the song list for Together for the Gospel, as well as how the songs are led. We have some very lively discussions! He’s encouraged me to play more simply so that the parts can be sung more easily. I tell Mark that since only 10% of the attendees are women and because at least 70% of the guys don’t read music, you’re not going to hear the parts very well. But in the end I defer. And I’m glad I did. As much as I enjoy being creative on the piano and think it can complement the lyrics, I think simpler playing makes these arrangements more transferable.
Here’s the track list (with a few notes):
- Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
- Come Praise and Glorify (from The Gathering)
- I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer art
- Speak, O Lord (Getty/Townend)
- Behold Our God (from Risen)
- Holy, Holy, Holy
- The Gospel Song (from Songs for the Cross Centered Life)
- Grace Greater Than All Our Sin
- I Hear the Words of Love
- Jesus Paid It All
- When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
- All I Have Is Christ (from The Gathering)
- I Asked the Lord That I Might Grow
- O Great God (from Valley of Vision)
- When Trials Come (Getty/Getty)
- We Will Glorify (Twila Paris)
And in case you missed the promo video, here it is:
I pray these songs enable you exult in the priceless treasure of our Savior and live more passionately for his glory.