Matthew Ward was born on February 15, 1958 in Grand Forks, North Dakota. He was a member of the popular CCM trio 2nd Chapter of Acts from 1973 to 1988, along with his sisters Annie Herring and Nellie (Ward) Greisen. They had great success, even singing back-up for Barry McGuire. Matthew released his first solo album TOWARD ETERNITY in 1979. He has sung backing vocals for the likes of LeAnn Rimes and Twila Paris. MY REDEEMER (1997) was his seventh solo effort if you include his 1992 best-of project. Ward produced MY REDEEMER himself.
`I See the Lord` is a majestic worship song: “I see the Lord seated on the throne exalted/And the train of His robe fills the temple with glory/And the whole earth is filled (3X)/With His glory/Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord (2X)”. Tim Sheppard wrote the next song, ‘This is my Offering’. It has a chorus of willing spiritual submission: “This is something I can do/I give my everything to You/This is my offering/More than the praise I bring/I give my everything/My hopes and dreams to You/This is my offering/More than the praise I bring/I give my everything/My heart and soul to You/This is my offering”.
‘To The King’ was a #1 hit nationally. It is a beautiful piano based ballad of reverence that begins with these words: “To the King who gave everything for me/Who’s body crucified, high on Calvary’s tree/Who’s redemptive blood makes way for me/I now give everything/To the King who came in the form of a child/All powerful God, and yet, so mild/Who’s obedience shows the way for me/I humbly come to Thee”. ‘Psalm 61’ is a light rock ballad of sorts with Ward and Richard Souther writing the music. The song is addressed to our Maker: “Hear my cry O God, give heed to my prayer/From the ends of the earth I call to Thee/When my heart is faint/Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I/For Thou hast been a refuge for me/And a tower of strength against the enemy/A tower of strength against the enemy”.
Annie Herring wrote the title track, ‘My Redeemer’. It is an easy listening song of personal testimony: “When with His words of light/He spoke and pulled my dark soul from the night/How can I repay my Redeemer?/With His wounded hands He held my broken heart to understand/I never can repay my Redeemer.../Here I go again/I’m thinking of the time when I will stand and look into the eyes of my Redeemer”. ‘Drink Deep’ was a #1 hit. It is a nice adult contemporary song of spiritual contentment: “How excellent is Your unfailing love/In the shadow of Your wings/We feast on the abundance of Your house, oh God/And drink from the river of Your delight/In Your light, we see light/For with You is the fountain of life/So, drink deep/Drink deep/Drink deep from the fountain of life”.
A traditional cover of Melody Green’s early 1980’s classic ‘There is a Redeemer’ follows. It expresses gratitude: “When I stand in glory, I will see His face/And there I’ll serve my King forever/In that Holy place/Thank You, O my Father for giving us Your Son/And leaving Your Spirit till the work on earth is done”. These lyrics from ‘God Almighty’ admit that life can at times be very difficult: “Overwhelmed with sorrow, broken by the pain/I could hear the doubt falling like rain/This time it is over, this time you won’t win.../Loneliness would cry out, keeping your heart bound/I would ache inside/To hear heaven’s sound”.
‘Our Master’, a duet with Rita Baloche, is a simple love song to God: “Our Master, Our Savior/You are Lord, our King/Our Master, our Savior/We give our praise/To our King (2X).../You’re the everlasting Father, The beginning and the end/There is no one that can take Your place/There is no other name”. Last up is Graham Kendrick’s wonderful 1993 composition ‘Knowing You (All I Once Held Dear)’. It conveys heartfelt feelings and desires: “Knowing You, Jesus/Knowing You/There is no greater thing/You’re my all, You’re the best/You’re my joy, my righteousness/And I love You, Lord/Oh, to know the power of Your risen life/And to know You in Your sufferings/To become like You in Your death, my Lord/So with You to live and never die”.
The strength of MY REDEEMER is most definitely Matthew Ward’s vocal performance. He has one of the best male voices in CCM history. Unfortunately, the lyrics, for the most part here, are pretty generic. There doesn’t seem to be much depth to them or thought put into them. They lack creativity. However, these songs are good for devotional use or just meditating on God. Musically, the album is a mix of praise and worship, inspirational, and easy listening. I’m rating MY REDEEMER 85%. For more info visit: www.matthewward.com.