Those of us that are part of the retuned hymn movement speak in our more internal discussions about the various “waves” of the movement, and Bruce Benedict at Cardiphonia certainly has continued to be one of the leading forces in the second or third wave. Cardiphonia has now established a pattern of “flash mob” compilation recordings, gathering various artists from various parts of the country with various stylistic bents. Their latest album, out this week, is Hymns for the Ascension, centering on that important but under-appreciated event of Jesus’ departure from earth to His rightful seat of power and advocacy in heaven (check out my post about why the Ascension is really, really important). In my opinion, the songwriting and production quality of the Cardiphonia compilations continues to get better and better.
For churches that don’t follow the liturgical year, is this album of any value? Are any of these songs usable? Certainly. For folks in those contexts, I’d encourage you to think about how the ascension highlights aspects of the gospel we tend to talk about less. When we sing the gospel, we most often talk about the cross, atonement, forgiveness, and sacrifice. But the beauty of the gospel goes deeper. The ascension highlights these aspects:
- Jesus as our priestly mediator
- Jesus as our advocate, “pleading the merit of His blood” before the Judge
- Jesus as Ruler and King
The second point is especially gripping to me. Jesus prays for us! He goes to bat for us before the Father. Imagine the kind of ministry that would take place among our people if we sung about that more often! So, you don’t need to be “liturgical” to make use of this album; we don’t need an ascension-themed Sunday to get mileage out of singing about the ascension.
I will also say that the quality, artistry, and even quirks of this album (my song included) shouldn’t take away our ability as worship leaders and planners, to do the job of “listening through” the songs to hear their basic melodic and chord structure. Sometimes, we get so caught up in the production that quite singable songs sound unsingable. That’s the perennial tension of the “recorded product.” Nevertheless, many of these songs are congregationally friendly in a surprisingly diverse amount of worship contexts. I will hopefully be incorporating at least one of these even in our traditional service (Majorins’ beautiful “God Ascended”).
Best yet, it’s FREE, and any donations go to Jobs for Life. Check it out! (I’ll post on my song and behind-the-scenes composition choices soon.)