Friday, October 05, 2012


“THE STORY is a collaborative movement by some of today’s most influential songwriters, artists, authors, directors, labels and publishers from around the world. The foundation for THE STORY began with Randy Frazee and Max Lucado in partnership with Zondervan to encourage all of us to rediscover Scripture like never before.” Sixteen of the eighteen songs on MUSIC INSPIRED BY THE STORY (2011, EMI Christian Music Group) have lyrics written by Nichole Nordeman, and music composed and arranged by Bernie Herms. Of the Bible characters these songs are about, the liner notes say: “We long to connect the current ‘us’ with the ancient ‘them’ in a more authentic way…It was their humanity that drew us deeper into these songs; not because they had a great story, but because a great God wrote them into His.” Bernie Herms and Brown Bannister produce and Norman Miller executive produces.

Disc One is labeled ‘Old Testament’ and runs 54:09. Genesis 1:31 reads: “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” ‘I AM (Creation) Overture’ starts things off. It is a pleasant orchestral arrangement by Bernie Herms. ‘Good (Adam and Eve)’ is a pulsating light rock number sung by Matthew West and Leigh Nash. Nash is lead vocalist for Sixpence None the Richer, famous for hits such as ‘Kiss Me’ and ‘There She Goes’. The song here begins with these words coming from the vantage point of Adam: “If I could/I’d rewrite history/I’d choose differently/If I could, I would/I’d leave out the part/Where I broke Your heart/In the garden’s shade/Fix the mess I made/If I could I would.” ‘Who But You (Abraham and Sarah)’ is a nice duet by Mark Hall and Megan Garrett from Casting Crowns and features a violin solo by Perry Montague-Mason. The song is heavier than most Casting Crowns fare and begins with these reflections of Abraham: “Too little too late/His time has come and gone/Is that what they say when I walk by?/I’ve got a little more grey/My steps are slow and long/And the promise You’ve made fades in the moonlight/I see a star/You see the Milky Way/I see one man counting sand/But You see generations.”

‘Bend (Joseph)’ is delivered by Brandon Heath who is a favourite of Carrie Underwood and won Male Vocalist of the Year at the 2010 Dove Awards. Luke Brown is on background vocals on this song that tells of the potential Joseph has when he walks in God’s will: “I am not my family tree/I have branches of my own…/Oh, does fate resign us to/Find shelter for our wounds/Beneath the battered roof of broken dreams?/Oh, but I will choose to stand/In the shadow of Your hand/And see what grows when Grace has sown the seed/Oh, oh, oh/These are different leaves you know.” Exodus 4:10 says: “And Moses said unto the Lord, ‘O my LORD, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech and of a slow tongue’”. ‘It Must Be You (Moses)’ by Bart Millard of MercyMe is a great pop song that reveals a total reliance on God: “If there’s anything good/Anything that’s good in me/Well, it must be You/Must be You/And if there’s any part of my shaking heart/To see this journey through/It must by You.” ‘Bring us Home (Joshua)’ is performed by Michael Tait (Newsboys), Blanca Callahan (Group 1 Crew) and hip hop artist Lecrae who helps Nordeman with the lyrics on this one. I had high hopes for this song musically, but it’s just okay. It does however declare a single-minded devotion to God: “Every turn is a new temptation/You want to bow down to something new/As for me and my generation we’ll serve/No one but You/Yahweh, oh Yahweh/Bring us a new day.”

Ruth says to her mother-in-law Naomi in Ruth 1:16: “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay/Your people will be my people and your God my God.” ‘I’m With You (Ruth and Naomi)’ is a lovely duet between Nichole Nordeman and Christian music pioneer Amy Grant. Adam Lester plays guitars. I love these wonderfully descriptive words from the song: “Now I’m on my hands and knees/Trying to gather up my dreams/Trying to hold on to anything/And we could shake a fist in times like this/When we don’t understand/Or we could just hold hands.” ‘Your Heart (David)’ is presented by the highly acclaimed Chris Tomlin. Tomlin was born in 1972 and is responsible for such songs as ‘Jesus Messiah’ and ‘How Great is our God’. His contribution here is delivered with passion and proves that he has talent far beyond being a respected worship artist. The lyrics he sings contain a request all Christians should pray with sincerity. “At the end of the day, I wanna hear people say/My heart looks like Your heart (2X)/When the world looks at me, let them agree/That my heart looks like Your heart, my heart looks like Your heart.” ‘No Compromise (Daniel)’ by Peter Furler is a mediocre rocker, not as good as most of his Newsboys-era songs. Dan Needham plays drums. The song starts with these words of confidence: “Throw me in the ring/Toss me to the flames/No one but my King/Walks me out unscathed/Feed me to the lions/Throw away the key/How will they deny/Who delivers me?/How could I love another?”

‘Born for This (Esther)’ is sung by Mandisa. She finished ninth on the fifth season of American Idol. This is a good pop/dance song with a catchy chorus and a cello solo by Anthony LaMarchina. These great lyrics speak of putting one’s faith into action: “There’s a time to hold your tongue/Time to keep your head down/There’s a time but it’s not now/Sometimes you gotta go, uninvited/Sometimes you gotta speak when you don’t have the floor/Sometimes you gotta move, when everybody else says you should stay/No way, no, not today…Sometimes you gotta stand apart from the crowd/Long before your heart could run the risk/You were born for this.” ‘Broken Praise (Job)’ by Todd Smith of Selah is a forgettable song until the latter part of it musically. It does though have a good message. Witness these lyrics that come from a place of deep spiritual maturity that few of us may attain: “But You were the One who filled my cup/And You were the One who let it spill/So blessed be Your holy Name if You never fill it up again/If this is where my story ends, just give me one more breath to say ‘Hallelujah’”.

Disc Two is labeled ‘New Testament’ and runs 40:03. It is likely the better of the two discs, but both are good. Luke 1:38 reads: “’I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said.’ Then the angel left her.” ‘Be Born in Me (Mary)’ is a beautiful ballad by Francesca Battistelli, the 2010 and 2011 Female Vocalist of the Year at the Dove Awards. It should be a staple on Christian radio at Christmas. These words imagine Mary’s inner struggle when she realized she would be carrying God’s Son: “If God is pleased with me, why am I so terrified?/Someone tell me I am only dreaming/Somehow help me see with Heaven’s eyes/And before my head agrees, my heart is on its knees/Holy is He/Blessed am I.” ‘When Love Sees You (Jesus)’ is a terrific ballad by Mac Powell from Third Day. It presents Jesus in a loving, compassionate, merciful light: “I see My Father’s fingerprints/I see your story, I see My Name/Written on every beautiful page/You see the struggle/You see the shame/I see the reason I came/I came for your wounds/To show you what Love sees when I see you.” ‘How Love Wins (Thief)’ is a vocal masterpiece by Steven Curtis Chapman. It is a good song for Easter Friday. It gets inside the head of the repentant thief at Calvary: “Only one of us deserves this cross/A suffering that should belong to me/And deep within this man I hang beside/Is the place where shame and grace collide/And it’s beautiful agony/That He believes it’s not too late for me.” ‘Alive (Mary Magdalene)’ finds Natalie Grant in familiar inspirational territory. It is the song of one who is thankful: “What kind of Love/Is writing my story/Til the end/With Mercy’s pen?/Only You/What kind of King/Would choose to wear a crown that bleeds and scars/To win my heart?” Tony Lucido plays bass. ‘Empty (Disciples)’ is a real treat, a duet between Dan Haseltine (Jars of Clay) and Matt Hammitt (Sanctus Real). It captures the possible train of thought of Jesus’ followers post-crucifixion and pre-Pentecost: “Now we’re huddled up here, trying to swallow our fear/We still smell the bread and wine, hear Your words running through our minds/Holding our breath now, for what comes next now/Holding out for some kind of sign.” On ‘Move in Me (Paul)’ Jeremy Camp does a good job in country territory, similar to Russ Taff. Gabe Scott plays dobro. The song finds Paul sharing his conversion story: “The man I buried/Had a heart of stone/Left him there in the bright light/Out on a dirt road/The day You saved me/From shadow and shame/Old things gone, got a new song/Got a new name.” Matthew 25:31 says: “The Son of Man will come again in His great glory, with all His angels. He will be King and sit on His great throne.” ‘The Great Day (Second Coming)’ is a duet between Michael W. Smith and Darlene Zschech, both musical heavyweights in their own right. This song has a great prologue and orchestral arrangement by Carl Marsh, as well as a choir that is led by Chance Scoggins. The song tries to capture the essence of the Glorious Event yet to come: “Rescued by hands bleeding grace/Are we ready to see His face?/On the great day/He will come to claim us with a rushing wind/Blown like fields of wheat, the world will bow and bend/Held between our joy and disbelief/Every trembling heart will finally face the same way/On the great day.”

In the liner notes for this double CD, Nichole Nordeman and Bernie Herms write: “It is our deep hope that as you experience The Story, you might have a new encounter with these iconic men and women who still have much to teach us from the living, breathing pages of Scripture. And perhaps, an arresting encounter as well, with the Author of their stories and ours. He is, after all, still writing…” MUSIC INSPIRED BY THE STORY fully accomplishes its purpose. It will reinvigorate your faith in God’s goodness and love towards you. It will refresh your faith and walk with God. It will draw you closer to the One who made you if you let it! I recommend this two-disc CD to fans of Christian pop and adult contemporary music, as well as to those exploring the heart of Christianity. I’m rating MUSIC INSPIRED BY THE STORY 90%. It’s a great listen! For more info visit and Be sure to check out Nichole Nordeman’s book LOVE STORY as well. It’s a good companion to this project.