I met Paul Baloche about ten years ago when we were both part of a panel at the GMA (Gospel Music Association) week. We actually met back in 1985, although I didn’t find out about it until 1998. Paul had just become a Christian and Rita had persuaded him to attend a Christian conference in the Philadelphia area where some guy was teaching a session on writing songs for worship. That guy happened to be me. I’ve joked with Paul that I should probably be getting a cut of his royalties since what he learned at that seminar has probably been a key part of his success all these years…
Paul is a humble man. We’ve talked about the unfortunate ending to “Above All,” the song he co-wrote with Lenny LeBlanc, which ends, “He took the fall and thought of me above all.” Paul had no idea people would take the last line to mean that Jesus thought of us more than his Father’s glory. Paul’s humility is also demonstrated in the number of songs on this CD (and the last) that he co-wrote with others. Paul has written his own songs for years, but in an effort to grow in his content, he’s teamed up with people like Brenton Brown, Kathryn Scott, Matt Redman, and Graham Kendrick.
In any case, I wanted to make you aware of his latest offering, Our God Saves. Paul has been seeking to be more intentional about the theology and Gospel-centeredness of the songs he writes. It’s evident from this project that he’s succeeding. Paul is writing more substantive contemporary songs with very singable melodies. A few of my favorites:
Rock of Ages You Will Stand (co-written with Brenton Brown) — Starting with lines from the hymn “On Christ the Solid Rock” by Edward Mote, Paul inserts lines that remind us “Great is Your faithfulness, great is Your love, O God.” The chorus proclaims, “Rock of ages, You will stand, our foundation ’til the end; Never failing, God unchanging, Rock of ages, You will stand.”
Only True God (co-written with Kathryn Scott) — A reflective song in 6/8 that explores the wonder of the Trinity. Here’s verse 1 and the chorus:
Beyond us, God within us
Revealed, yet we see in part
Transcendent, but so near us
The mystery dwelling within our hearts
Father, Spirit, Son, only true God
Exalted three in one, only true God.
Unfortunately this song leads directly into a spontaneous prayer by someone who has exemplary passion but questionable theology. (I share more on this in the comments section below.)
I Cling to the Cross (co-written with Matt Redman) — One of the many songs on this CD that simply but effectively focuses on the glories of God expressed through the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ. “I cling to the cross and everything it means, I know it’s the only hope there is for saving me.”
You Gave Your Life Away (co-written with Kathryn Scott) — A beautiful reflective meditation on Christ’s humility in giving his life away for us. “You gave, You gave Your life away for me, Your grace has broken every chain, My sins are gone, my debt’s been paid, You gave, You gave Your life away for me.” This would make an excellent song during the Lord’s Supper. Or any time, for that matter.
Praise (co-written with Brenton Brown) — A contagiously joyful song that deals with creation’s song of praise as it yearns for Christ’s return (Rom. 8:19).
Great Redeemer — A simple but effective song that extols the Savior. Verse 2 contains a use of the word “embrace” that I wouldn’t find problematic:
I long to see my Savior’s face, to gaze upon His beauty
To lose myself in His embrace, at last behold His glory
The Lamb of God Who died for me has made my sin His own
And bore my shame upon the cross, I worship Him alone.
While the word “embrace” can carry sensual overtones, the verse also talks about substitutionary atonement (1 Pet. 2:24) and the imputation of our sin to Christ (2 Cor. 5:21), so those associations are minimized.
Paul also includes an up tempo rendition of How Great Thou Art. Nice. Thirteen songs in all. I downloaded the CD from ITunes and it included a full color, digital booklet with lyrics, chords and guitar fingerings. All for $9.99. Really nice. Or you can order the CD here. In a day when there are plenty of modern worship CD’s with great music and weak content, Our God Saves is a welcome change.