After hearing his most recent CD, All I Need is Here, I’ve learned that he’s also a thoughtful and creative songwriter. His new CD, on the EMI/Worship Together label, goes beyond the “norm” in everything from melodies to production to packaging. His lyrics aren’t among the most profound I’ve seen, but Michael is consciously trying to say something meaningful and biblical that draws our hearts to the glory of Christ and our responsibility to love and obey him. He has a particular burden to merge song of worship with hands-on ministry for the glory of God.
While not all of the songs are meant for congregational worship, it’s hard not to be drawn to praise God for his goodness and mercy as you listen to the CD. Here are a few stand-out tracks.
Be Praised – A jubilant celebration, joining creation in worshiping God as the sovereign Creator and atoning Redeemer. This song will go best with a rockin’ band accompanying it. From verse 2:
All praises to the One from whom it all began
The One who gave himself to save sinful man,
You scorned the shame of the cross,
My sin, my blame is now gone,
Now here I stand beloved and called by name.
Giving It All – A simple expression of God’s all-sufficient grace and our ever-present need to give ourselves over to him. “I need your grace to rescue me…You are the fountain of life. Just one drop and I am filled. You are my joy and desire; I resign to Your will. I surrender.”
Ancient Skies – A reflection on Ps. 68:32-33: O kingdoms of the earth, sing to God; sing praises to the Lord, to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens; behold, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice. He uses the phrase “rides in the heavens” as an invitation to consider God’s unchanging and eternal nature.
You Alone – In the right key (G?), this would be a great congregational song. Celebrates our union with Christ. “Your life is our life. We are one in You. We belong to You.”
Spotless – A haunting song that reflects on the beauty and power of Christ’s substitutionary death, resulting in our receiving mercy that covers all our sins. This would be an effective solo.
Spotless. Beautifully blameless,
Tragically broken because of love.
All sin taken upon Him;
Willingly broken because of love.
O Light of the world
Thank You for mercy.
The last song includes a hidden track called “Song for My Family.” It’s directed to the “cynical saints” who are “burned out and hopeless,” “the ones that we’ve cast away.” It’s a beautiful, plaintive song that apparently is addressing the way Christians can sometimes sin against the weak saints among them. While the song rightly speaks to the selfishness and pride of the church, it can unintentionally leave the impression that anyone who has left the church needs to be apologized to. But “cynical saints” never become bitter simply because of what others have done to them. The song might be more helpful if it addressed the heart issues of those who have left. Still, the song pleads for the church to “be what you should be,” which is always good counsel.
I also enjoyed “Prodigal,” (based on Rom. 8:38-39), that reminds us “nothing compares to what you’ve done for me.” “Grace for Me” highlights some of Michael’s fine acoustic work, and focuses on our need for God’s grace in the process of sanctification. “Even though I’m not yet flawless, You are forming me.”
I pray that Michael Gungor continues to grow in his ability to communicate Christ-exalting, biblically faithful truths in beautiful, passionate, and compelling songs. On All I Need is Here he’s certainly taken a solid step in that direction. You can preview and buy tracks here.