CD Review: RISEN (Sovereign Grace Ministries)

CD:  RISEN, Sovereign Grace Ministries

*Disclaimer:  Our review of RISEN is based on it’s perceived usefulness in the local church ministry setting.

1.  ALIVE: It is encouraging that there are still people who believe in the doctrine of total depravity.  This doctrine is in great need of being recovered in our day.  Time and time again, God’s Word tells us we are dead in trespasses and sins, wretched, pitiful, and poor (Ephesians 2:1-3).  Without the Spirit of God breathing into our souls we would never “wake up” to God (John 6:44).  I like how the first few lines succinctly speak to this reality.

My heart of stone was dead to you / Asleep within a world that scorned its Maker

Until You breathed into my soul / And I woke up to You / My glorious Savior

I believe the driving music of Alive serves the lyrics well.  The song-writers do a great job of pointing to the Savior as the One whose work alone has made the sinner come to life.  Alive, along with several of the more upbeat songs on the project are probably most suited for a more modern / contemporary worship setting.  By the way, do you hear “Sunglasses at Night?” (3.5 stars)

2.  Oh, What A Day: I love the energy of this song.  The song is simple and sing-able.  It recounts the reality of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the great joy and hope for the believer.  The resurrection causes fears to fly and ushers in the Hope of heaven.  This is a fun song that would be ideal for praise band or youth choir. (3.5 stars)

3.  You Have Been Raised: Worship leading can be a lot like a mass counseling session.  The songs we sing and more importantly the lyrics those songs contain can be used by the Holy Spirit to minister to the hurting souls in the crowd.  We need to sing more songs like this that ask questions and provide biblical answers to those questions.  How do we know that we’re redeemed?  Because Jesus has been raised! (1 Cor. 15)!  You Have Been Raised does break my pronoun pet-peeve.  The writer’s replace Jesus with “You” on all occasions.  I know it doesn’t always work out lyrically, but an ad-lib moment would’ve been nice.  While I will listen to this song regularly on my iPod and receive great encouragement, I believe the varying musical styles will limit its usefulness in most churches.  The chorus is quite sing-able as are most of the songs on Risen.  You Have Been Raised is probably best used as a solo piece.  I may have rated it as high as 4 stars with more congregational friendly music.  (3 stars)

4.  We Have Been Healed: As I listened to this song, I couldn’t help but remember Isaiah 53 and the Suffering Servant.  By His stripes we are healed!  When scripture comes to mind when singing a song…that’s a good thing!  This is a great worship song because it has strong, Gospel-infused lyrics and it is very singable.  I was reminded of “Jesus Thank You” from one of their earlier projects when I heard the line “so enemies could know your grace.”  Our congregations need to know that we were all enemies of God before Jesus.  How amazing that He has made His enemies, His friends!  (4.5 stars)

5.  Your Name Alone Can Save: Pretty self-explanatory here.  Your Name Alone Can Save is another strong, biblical, upbeat “worship band” song on this project.  (3.5 stars)

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven

given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).”

6.  He Has Risen: This song is tremendous in the lyric department as are nearly all of Sovereign Grace’s music.  It’s packed to the brim with scripture. To me, it could be a great worship song but the music is just too hard to follow for most churches to use in corporate worship.  I wonder if this song is intended to be more of a “listener” song than something that is actually to be used in worship?  Kind of reminds me of Caedmon’s Call.  (3 stars)

7.  To Live Is Christ: This is an absolutely beautiful song!  It could be used in a number of different ways: a congregational song, a solo, or even as a choir anthem.  It is a great reminder of the Apostle Paul’s declaration in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  I believe the song has an appropriate focus as it seeks to point the listener to Jesus as the joy of heaven.  (4.5 stars)

8.  Jesus Lives: This is another solid song that connects the resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection of the believer on the last day.  Because Jesus lives, so shall I!  (4 stars)

Jesus lives and so shall I I’ll be raised from the dust with Christ on high
Jesus lives no more to die And when He returns, with Him I’ll rise
Jesus lives

9.  You Are Our Hope: This is a song of hope and encouragement for the believer.  I really like the question at the end of the verses.  “How can grief remain when our Savior reigns?”  A lot of times we focus on the wrong things.  If we focus on the fact that Jesus has conquered death and is reigning forever, everything else will pale in comparison.  Lord, give us eyes to see Your glory!      (4 stars)

Jesus, victorious, in the heavens exalted
Jesus, give us eyes to see Your glory

10.  Name Above All Names: A soaring anthem of Jesus’ majesty and glory.  This is one of the best musical settings of Philippians 2 that I have heard in a long, long time.  I can hear this in an Easter musical.  (5 stars)

You are highly exalted  / Name above all names  / Worthy of all praise
You are reigning in glory  / Jesus, You’re the King  / Over everything
Exalted to the highest place / Given the name above all other names

11.  We Will Rise: I personally like the variation of the off-beat accompaniment, however I think a lot of churches would struggle to sing this song in corporate worship.  It would be a great solo / praise band piece…if you have a steady guitarist.  (3 stars)

12.  Behold Our God: In my opinion, this song would go over really well in corporate worship because it magnifies the greatness of God.  I like the questions in the verses that remind me of passages from Isaiah, Job, and the Psalms.  Dennis mentioned how he likes how they included the words “O come let us adore Him.”  We can “adore” God other times than Christmas!  (4 stars)

13.  Hail the Day: In the words of Dennis Cook, “Brother, we need to emphasize to them (those who visit the site) to use this song this Easter!  We will do it here soon!” Hail the Day is definitely the most-versatile song on the CD.  I can see it being used in traditional, blended, and contemporary church settings.  It reminds me a lot of something we would hear from Getty / Townend.  I’d like to see this also appear in an Easter musical.  What a great way to cap off this tremendous project!  (5 stars)

Hail the day that Christ arose / Through the skies to worlds unknown
Glorious there He ever reigns / Object of all heaven’s praise

See Him lift His hands above / See the scars of His great love
He has conquered death and sin / Saving all who hope in Him

Hallelujah, hallelujah / The King of Love is on His throne
Hallelujah, hallelujah / His grace will lead us safely home

Though He dwells beyond the stars / His redeemed are on His heart                                                                                                           Even now He intercedes / Jesus cares for all our needs

***Conclusion: An amazing project!  Sovereign Grace has done a great service for the church by providing so many wonderful songs about the resurrection of Jesus!  I will use several of these songs at our church.  Even if you don’t think you can use these songs at your church, it is definitely worth buying and adding to your iPod!

You can download sheet music for Risen here.  You can purchase RISEN for $5 here.

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