I first met Matt Redman in 1997 when I was over in England for a worship conference. In a few minutes of conversation a few things stood out to me. He was a young man passionate about impacting his generation with worship songs that communicated biblical truth about God and not simply emotional responses. He was theologically aware and gospel-focused. He was articulate. And he was humble.
Over the past years my first impressions have not only been confirmed; they’ve been deepened.
After listening to his latest album, We Shall Not Be Shaken, I found myself thanking God once again for Matt’s faithfulness to serve the church with his songwriting gift.
We Shall Not Be Shaken contains 12 songs, many expressing confident trust in a sovereign, wise, and loving God. The melodies are creative but singable, the harmonies are fresh, and Matt’s voice is as solid as ever. Here’s my take on the individual songs.
1. This is How We Know reflects on the fact that we know God’s love through the cross, and then translates that thought into loving those around us. There’s an awareness as well that we love God because He loved us first.
2. We Shall Not Be Shaken is a rocker that proclaims with unabashed courage, “Nations could be quaking, economies failing; When fear is found all around You’re the solid ground.” The chorus melody is contagious and filled with heart-strengthening truth: “Our God, You are all that You say You are; You never change, You never fail, You never fade.”
3. Through it All is an anthemic meditation on God’s immutability. “Through it all, You are faithful; Through it all, You are strong; As we walk through the shadows, Still You shine on.”
4. You Alone Can Rescue reminds us of our inability to save ourselves, a much needed emphasis in our self-promoting, self-sufficient culture.
5. The Glory of Our King jubilantly celebrates the privilege of being worshipers of God. “The rocks are going to cry out if we don’t; Now’s the time to raise a song; Hear creation shout loud; We will join our voices to that sound; Stand up, stand up — the time has come.” But rather than remain focused on our priase, the lyrics remind us of the joy we have to “take Heaven to a broken world.” This is another song with a musical hook that’s hard to forget.
6. How Great Is Your Faithfulness is another anthem extolling God’s unchanging character, only this time in a vibrant 6/8. Like other songs Matt has penned, the lyrics encourage us with the truth that “from generation to generation You never fail us, O God.”
7. Remembrance is a beautiful communion song that reminds us there are “none too lost to be saved; None too broken or ashamed; All are welcome in this place.” I wondered about one line that seems at face value to be referring to transubstantiation (“now the simple made divine”). When I read in the liner notes that the words were taken from the Roman Missal, I realized it was more than an implication. That being said, a case could be made that the song is talking about acknowledging God’s divine activity in the simple act of taking the bread and cup together. I’d want to make sure people knew what was meant by that line.
8. The More We See helps us meditate on the unending circle of worship — the more we see of God, the more we want to sing about His glory in creation and in the mercy of the cross. Not one of the strongest songs for me, but still solid.
9. For Your Glory sounds a lot like a remake of Matt’s song, Dancing Generation. Drawing from Ps. 24:7-10, we’re invited to dance and shout for God’s glory. But Matt includes two familiar themes — the cross and evangelism —that educate us as to why we’re so excited, thereby rescuing the song from mere emotionalism.
10. Gloria is a song I could hear being belted out by a massive crowd that’s reveling in God’s glory in creation (vs. 1) and the cross (vs. 2). Another effective anthem.
11. All That Really Matters is a mid-tempo song of commitment, expressing a desire to live for the One who is “the Way, the Life, the Truth.” The chorus reminds us that “All that really matters, all that really counts is found in You.”
12. The album closes with My Hope, a song that adds a chorus to two verses borrowed from Edward Mote’s On Christ the Solid Rock. It’s a hauntingly beautiful rewrite, perhaps better suited for a soloist than a congregation. Very moving.
After a quick listen, one might easily dismiss this album as just one more of the hundreds of modern worship offerings released each year. Don’t do it. While Matt’s lyrics may not always contain the breadth, precision, and theological depth of some modern writers (think the Getty’s and Stuart Townend), his songs are biblically faithful, cross-centered, poetically fresh, and God-glorifying. In addition, his melodies and harmonic progressions are consistently above standard fare.
Matt was kind enough to respond to a few questions I had about the album. I’ll post his responses tomorrow.