Friday, September 30, 2011

Review: "Boldly Close" by Radiant Worship

Radiant Worship’s Boldly Close maintains their desire to “encounter the Presence of God through passionate, modern worship music.”  (The quote is from their website,  Radiant Worship is a team of musicians with International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO, led by Richy Clark.  They also have teams of intercessors and messengers who bring the presence of God to their gatherings.  To do this, they must encounter God themselves.  Boldly Close is an example of their encounters with God as they lead others to encounter the same God that comes close to them.  This recording is live, so there is a dynamic of audience participation.  Boldly Close will be released to iTunes on October 1, 2011, and this music is well worth the downloads.

For a more thorough review, here is a breakdown of each song:

** Lift The Veil **
I love how the songwriters use the elements of the temple to express how we should approach God.  The temple veil was torn in two so all can come and behold his glory.  When we see his glory, we also see our sinful nature and desire to rid ourselves of the sin in our lives to receive the glory he has prepared for us.  Musically, this starts off soft and builds to a powerful chorus.  Later on in the song, the chorus backs down into a gentle manner to allow the stillness of God’s presence, and then the song fades to the next one.  I’m a little stuck on the line “You’re countenance making new all that beholds your glory.”  If I understand the songwriters’ intent here, they are expressing how God desires to make us new, and more like Him.  Overall, it’s a great and powerful song with deep and rich meaning to those who understand how the temple’s design in the Old Testament is a model for our prayer and our reverence for a holy God.  It would make a great addition to a Sunday setlist.

** You Are The Christ **
This is a confession to the identity of Jesus as the Messiah.  The words are directly from the conversation between Jesus and Peter, and are applied to our response to Jesus upon recognizing who He is.  My favorite line in the song is “He’s given the keys of the Kingdom to the Church.”  As the Church, I’m always reminded we have the keys to unlock/release the Kingdom into this earth.  The song is a powerfully moving song with a driving beat.  It has some great guitar riffs and bass lines to add to the dynamic.  Overall, it’s a great song to add to a set list, especially expressing it as a creed of who Jesus is and how we see him.

** Unto You **
I like how the songwriters use the word “consecrate.”  For those who need a definition, it means to make or declare sacred.  Many modern songs avoid words that seem too “churchy.”  So, it’s refreshing to know songwriters are willing to reuse such words in worship songs to express the need to set ourselves apart for the Lord’s kingdom.  I only have one issue with the song, though.  The most memorable melody in the song is “Whoa.”  It’s catchier than the verse and the chorus.  So to me, the “Whoa” does not sound like an accent to the song but another section of the song.  People normally walk away remembering melodic lines the best.  So I wonder if people will remember “Whoa” more than the other lyrics, which are very beautiful.

** We Lift Our Voice **
This is a great worship song.  It expresses the heart of people willing to meet with God, and they come into his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.  For those who understand the structure of the Old Testament temple, it has some deep and rich meaning.  Musically, I love the bass in this song, and how much it pumps through the song.  The song has a driving beat that is consistent throughout the song.  It would make a great song to addition to a Sunday Set List.

** The Real Fire (Prayer) **
I actually like this a lot because it’s just music with the lead worshiper praying.  I’ve come to appreciate songs that simply speak/sing a prayer because there is no pressure to make words rhyme or sing in a particular pattern.  I like how the lead worshiper encourages the crowd to seek God for the “real fire” and give us more than just the religion we practice.  We need God to be real with us, and we certainly need his “real fire.”  It’s a great example for a worship team when it comes to prophetic soaking music.  Since this type of song cannot be used in a set list, I would recommend teams to allow the Holy Spirit to speak through the music they play and sing.

** The Highest **
This is another great song of worship.  It gives all glory and honor to Jesus expressing that no other name deserves that much praise.  The 6/8 time signature, and ebbs and flows in tempo allow the song to breathe.  There are moments in the song that soften up for a more intimate feel, and other moments that are driving and strong.  I like how the musicians work with the different dynamics of the song, and highly recommend this song for a worship set list.

** Boldly Close **
This is another 6/8 time signature with a few ebbs and flows between intimate moments and declarative moments.  The chorus is pretty powerful, “I'm coming boldly close to You; I'm not afraid 'cause You've asked me to; I'm bringing all my emptiness; To be satisfied in Your likeness.”  It’s certainly a song that can be used in a corporate setting.

** You Are Holy (Isaiah 6) **
Using the words of Isaiah, the worshipers connect with Isaiah’s response to seeing God in his manifest glory.  While the verses are Isaiah’s response to what he saw, the chorus focuses on the adoration of the Lord by the Seraphim.  The chorus is very powerful, and would make for a great addition to a set list.

** The Good Part **
I find it refreshing to hear songs that express the value of resting in God’s presence and waiting on Him.  I wondered why the songwriters chose rest as “the good part” but then I remembered the story of Mary and Martha.  When Martha complained that Mary was not doing enough work around the house, Jesus said that Mary chose the better one.  With that said, may we always choose resting in the Lord’s presence over getting so much kingdom “work” done as if our labor is more pleasing to God than being in his presence.  I love how the song expresses that God is not always in the earthquake or the wind or the works we do.  He’s not always in the praise song or our pain, and he sometimes asks us to lie down and wait for him.  I recommend this song for sets that want to express waiting on the Lord and hearing his voice.

** Jesus, I Surrender **
This is a pretty straight-forward song.  It’s trusting in the words Jesus spoke about following him.  There will be trials, joy, and suffering.  We must give up our rights, and take up our cross.  Jesus also promised we would never be alone.  So trusting in his words, there is surrender to his ways.  The song has a slow to moderate tempo with an ebb and flow of dynamics.  In an intimate worship setting, I would recommend this for a Sunday set list.

** We Will Not Be Moved **
This is such a driving song from beginning to end!  The guitar riff is awesome.  There is a strong declaration that “we will not be moved” even if the mountains crumble to the sea, or the waters rise above us.  As much as I love the lyrics, there seems to be a disconnection of who the singers are singing to between the verse and the chorus.  The verse seems to be a group battle cry, and the chorus expresses how wonderful God is and how beautiful the things he makes are. Maybe the song is expressing that because God is so wonderful that we will not be moved, but again that connection is not really clear.  Other than that, it’s a great and powerful song, and I would recommend it for set lists as long as the lead worshiper somehow visually makes that connection.

** The Worthy Selah (Improv) **
I kind of like this because this is what prophetic soaking music does.  These songs are not intended for a sing-a-long.  Hearers just need to soak in what the Spirit is speaking to the church through the lead worshipers.  It’s during those long music-only portions that people are encouraged to pray and listen to the Lord.  I’m always amazed at how much God speaks, and all we have to do is listen.  Of course, these type songs can’t really be duplicated, or even recommended for a set list.  What I would recommend to any worship team is to allow creativity through the musicians, and allow the Holy Spirit to move through the music whether in instrument or voice.

Overall, this is a really good live album.  Radiant Worship has a reputation of bringing the presence of God to their gatherings.  The musicianship is top notch, the vocals are powerful, and Richy Clark has a way of allowing God to speak through him at their gatherings.  Musically, I’m not sure how many worship bands can duplicate the musicianship in Radiant Worship since they are incredibly talented.  However, I would encourage any worship team to use the songs that speak to the heart of their local congregation, and use their creativity to express the message in the songs.

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