Michael W Smith – Sovereign
This week we gave a listen to the cd “Sovereign” by Michael W. Smith and it was a very positive experience. To be perfectly honest, we are not the biggest fans of contemporary Christian music. Most of our typical complaints have to do with the repetitive nature in the music as well as the theologically light and sometimes the unbiblical theology of the songs. This is not the case with Michael W. Smith at all. His latest project is a rich and rewarding experience and we are totally confident in recommending it.
The music of “Sovereign” is designed to guide your personal worship times. That is not to say that every track lends itself to church use; some tracks might not be very useful in corporate worship. Some would be more difficult in guiding the congregation to participate in worship. However, a number of cuts off of this album could very easily be incorporated into a church music program. If you are looking for music to aid you in your personal time with the Lord, you will find every track to be fitting for that purpose.
When evaluating music, we consider lyrics, melody, rhythm, and harmony. Within the anticipated genre of contemporary worship music, Michael W. Smith presents variety in every area and provides a satisfying experience.
Melodically, most of the tracks are quite singable – within most people’s vocal ranges, though there were a few tracks that were a little bit on the high side. While that may not be a surprise within the contemporary genre, the melodies are varied enough to give interest to each track. Even within the individual songs, variety between themes and variations that there is a strong grab of our attention.
Rhythmically, “Sovereign” provides enough punctuated rhythm to be cutting edge in today’s popular musical world, but Michael W. Smith never allows it to become disrespectful or irreverent to the themes of the songs. In short, the rhythm does not eclipse the message; it becomes a vehicle for the message.
Harmony – both vocal harmonies as well as the overall musical setting for each piece – provides a setting to tell the story which is boldly conveyed. Listeners are treated to the plush and gorgeous musical orchestrations – the earmark of Michael W. Smith’s music – from the first notes to the conclusion. Of special interest is the vocal harmony on the final track, “The One That Really Matters,” a duet with Kari Jobe. Nothing more can be said than that this must be what heaven sounds like. Ok, that might be pushing it a little bit far, but the idea is consistent. The beautiful, ethereal quality makes it impossible to ignore this song. With orchestrations that are all keyboard-based instead of the typical guitar-driven bands, Michael W. Smith writes for keyboards, synthesizers, sequencers, and drum machines and produces a totally different feel. While there is nothing wrong with guitar-driven bands, this has such a fresh feeling to it.
Finally, the words that make up each song are of utmost importance to us. Great music plus bad theology equals a poorly written song. A plethora of recording media follows that unfortunate formula, but “Sovereign” stands solidly upon biblical moorings. Each song can stand on its own theologically, but the title of the album has a great deal to say for itself. Simply titled “Sovereign,” the album is meant to magnify God and nothing else, to draw our attention to the greatness and endless magnificence of our creator. There can be no greater purpose. The very first song, “You Won’t Let Go,” sets the tone for the entire album. “You are the anchor for my soul. You won’t let go. No matter what may come I know you won’t let go.” The words show a complete confidence in the Lord’s ability and willingness to keep His people, to cause the saints to persevere. The theme of many of the songs is trusting in the sovereignty of God through whatever trials come. What a needed message to today’s church! The ability to see God through whatever comes our way is always a needed message. “Miracle” shows the undeserved freedom of trusting in Christ. “I am a miracle. Impossible. The war was lost before your blood; before the cross. My shame no more. My curse no more. You made a way. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. I once was lost but now I’m Found.” Dwelling on the legacy of John Newton, this song heralds the salvation that is itself a miracle. We did not deserve anything but death and hell; yet God desired to save His people. Particularly enjoyable is the song, “Christ Be All Around Me” which triumphs in the preeminence of Christ and the subsequent priority that Christ should have in our lives. The chorus says, “Above and below me; Before and behind me; In every eye that sees me; Christ be all around me.” This wonderful lesson on sanctification reminds us that Jesus should be so paramount in our lives that when people see us they see all that Christ is to us.
Song after song presents the sovereignty of God over every circumstance of our lives. Nothing escapes God. Nothing is beyond the scope of our great God. These great truths make this a wonderful recording. The music is incredible but, that is secondary to the message. “Sovereign” by Michael W. Smith is sound theology wrapped up in vibrant music and we would recommend that you give it a listen.
Comments are always welcome.