I’m overjoyed to report that last week (Aug. 1) we released Grace Has Come: Songs from the Book of Romans.
I knew when we started this project that it would be a daunting task. It was. There just isn’t any way of adequately communicating the glorious truths in the book of Romans. But we had to try.
I thank God that a lot of great songs for congregational worship have been written recently, like Not in Me and Man of Sorrows. More people are trying to write songs that are theologically driven, gospel aware, fresh, and singable.
With Grace Has Come we let a book of the Bible drive the whole album. This is by no means an exhaustive musical rendering of Romans. But I think we captured many of the prominent themes – grace, the gospel, God’s glory in creation, the sinfulness of man, justification in Christ, God’s righteousness, adoption, union with Christ, God’s love, election, and offering our lives as a living sacrifice. The songs are ordered in a way that reflects their appearance in Romans, although some of the songs cover one or more chapters. Here’s how it worked out:
The Gospel Was Promised (Rom. 1:1-6) – Joel Sczebel showed me a lyric taken from the first few verses of Romans. I thought it would be great to have a song that made clear, as Paul does, that the gospel is rooted in history, not theory, philosophy, or our imagination. I added some lyrics and a chorus and Joel came up with the music.
Grace and Peace (Rom. 1:7) – One of the first songs we picked for the album, based on one verse. Joel did a great job capturing the wonder and awe of words we’re prone to read over quickly – Grace and peace have come to us from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. And it’s a simple, memorable melody which makes it stick. Joel landed his first lead vocal on this song.
Almighty Maker (Rom. 1:20, 11:36) – In this uptempo song, Steve & Vikki Cook explore how God clearly has revealed his eternal power and divine nature in what he’s created. “All creation sings of you, glory fills all that you do.” The bridge is based on the doxology at the end of Romans 11.
Judge of the Secrets (Rom. 2:5-16) – Dave Fournier penned this song, based on a phrase found in Rom. 2:16: “on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” That verse comes in the middle of Paul making the case that everyone has fallen short of God’s glory. Dave uses it as the basis for a song of confession, dependence, and consecration.
Our Only Hope is You (Rom. 3:9-26) – Neil and Kate DeGraide, new contributors to a Sovereign Grace Music project and members of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, wrote this haunting melody and lyric to express our utter inability to make our own way to God. Kate sings a moving lead vocal.
A God Who Saves (Rom. 5:6-11) – Another by Joel Sczebel, this upbeat anthem proclaims God’s power to rescue sinners and conquer death. The last two lines of verse 2 ended up being a collaborative effort of the folks in the studio when Brooks Ritter was recording the vocal.
We Praise Your Righteousness (Rom. 3-8) – When studying for this album, I read in John Stott’s commentary: “The righteousness of (or from) God is a combination of his righteous character, his saving initiative, and his gift of a righteous standing before him. It is his just justification of the unjust, his righteous way of ‘righteoussing’ the unrighteous.” (p. 109). I wrote these lyrics to capture those ideas. My good friend, Matt Papa, supplied a hymn-like tune and ended up singing it on the album. Actually Matt supplied two tunes, but we could only use one.
Our Hope is Alive (Rom. 8:18-25) – Another DeGraide contribution, this mid-tempo 6/8 song ties our future hope to Christ’s triumphant victory over the grave.
Glory Awaits (Rom. 8:18-30) – Jon Underhill, also from Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, sent in this bluesy but celebrative song that reminds me lyrically of the old Andrae Crouch song, Soon and Very Soon. I added a few lyrics and Brooks Ritter, our friend from Sojourn Church, sang lead. Brooks was made for songs like this.
Nothing in All the Earth (Rom. 8:31-39) – I think we wrote about ten songs for this passage. There are many more to be written. We chose this joyful song by Joel Sczebel that reminds us nothing can ever tear us from God’s everlasting love in Christ. This is one of two songs sung by David Zimmer, drummer for Enfield and this album.
All Glory Be Forever (Rom. 1:18-23, 3:21, 6:1-11; 8:1-39, 11:33) – An anthemic overview of Romans 1-11, written by my son, Jordan (who also wrote All I Have is Christ). I especially like the line, “Every trial that tempts our hearts to fear He’ll use to give us hope.” What a precious truth to remember.
It’s Your Grace (Rom. 9:1 -11:36) – How does one write a song based on Romans 9-11? This is our attempt. Doug Plank sent me the initial idea for the song, and I finished it while he was ministering over in Africa. I tried to communicate the thought that God’s sovereign grace is a cause not for theological disputes, but for humble rejoicing and grateful worship. After all, that’s where Paul ends up at the end of chapter 11.
My Life is an Offering (Rom. 12:1-2) – A simple song of commitment, written by Joel and Pat Sczebel, closes out the album. In light of all God has done for us in Christ, our only response can be a greater desire to see Jesus magnified through the offering of our lives.
In another post, I’ll write about the special edition of Grace Has Come, which features three additional songs and helps raise money for an October worship conference in the Philippines.
As for all our albums, you can download free guitar charts, lead sheets, and piano scores from the Sovereign Grace Music website. You can also buy Grace Has Come from iTunes, Amazon, or Bandcamp. The digital liner notes are included with Bandcamp and iTunes.