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.
You can download it from iTunes for $9.99 or Amazon for $9.49.
Matt was kind enough to respond to a few questions I had about the album. I’ll post his responses tomorrow.
Thanks for bringing attention to this album. I have felt personally that Redman has grown better and better in his songwriting. You can almost track, album to album, a greater sense of biblical depth and honesty. My opinion is that Redman is one of the best at balancing immanence and transcendence in his music. My favorite song on this album, after listening to it for a month is “How Great is Your Faithfulness.” I posted a review soon after it came out, and if people want a bit more analysis and description than the great stuff you’ve offered here, they can check it out: http://www.zachicks.com/blog/2009/8/25/review-of-matt-redmans-new-album-we-shall-not-be-shaken.html
Great review, Zac.
Thanks, Bob, for providing this review. I find myself often without the time (or desire) to wade through all the new worship albums to find what is substantial. And yet I do want to know what solid, gospel-focused, congregation-friendly music is out there–besides Sovereign Grace songs. Other worship leaders, pastors and teachers whom I trust pointing me in the right direction is one of the biggest helps to me.
This is by far my favorite CD Matt Redman has ever done. Got see him with Casting Crowns last month and it was an incredible time of worship. This CD has been in my stereo non-stop.
Regarding the words “the simple made divine” I completely agree with Bob Kauflin that ‘I’d want to make sure people knew what was meant by that line’.
Like many lines in songs it’s capable of different interpretations and could be taken to include/endorse transubstantiation.
But (without being an expert!) I don’t think that line itself actually comes from the Roman Missal.
The part of the song that is borrowed from the Roman Missal is the Middle 8: “Dying you destroyed our death, Rising you restored our life; Lord Jesus come in glory”.
I imagine all of us, both protestant and catholic, would say Amen to that!
Chris, very helpful comments. Thanks.
Chris, according to the liner notes this song was co-written with Matt Maher, who’s a practising Catholic. If I knew that those words were written by someone who meant it as transubstantiation, I’d find it difficult to lead a church in singing it without worrying about the possibility of confusing or leading them astray, or it going against my conscience. Bob maybe you might be in a position to ask Matt (Redman) about it?
That being said, the recording of this song has an enthralling, contemplative nature about it and the bridge you highlighted declares His imminent return – amen to that!!
Thanks William for your comment!
Just as a follow-up to mine, we’ve decided in the end not to use the song in our services here, because the risk of misunderstanding and confusion over “the simple made divine” just seems too great.