MercyMe released their first major-label studio album ALMOST THERE in 2001. It included the smash hit ‘I Can Only Imagine’, about heaven. In 2004 they were named ‘Artist of the Year’ and ‘Group of the Year’ at the Dove Awards. Other songs they are known for include ‘Word of God Speak’, ‘God With Us’, and ‘You Reign’. In 2011 they put out THE WORSHIP SESSIONS (Fair Trade/Columbia). At the time, MercyMe was: Barry Graul, Bart Millard, Jim Bryson, Mike Scheuchzer, Nathan Cochran, and Robby Shaffer. In the liner notes, the band writes: “All we really want is Christ and Him glorified. We pray all of our offerings do just that”.
Starting things off is ‘Hungry’, a piano based ballad of spiritual surrender: “I’m falling on my knees/Offering all of me/Jesus, You’re all this heart is living for/Broken I run to You/For Your arms are open wide/I am weary but I know Your touch restores my life/So I wait for You/Oh, I wait for You”. Brooke Fraser wrote ‘Hosanna’, an upbeat pop/rock number that paints a marvelous picture: “I see the King of glory/Coming on the clouds with fire/The whole earth shakes (2X)/I see His love and mercy washing over all our sin/The people sing (2X)/And Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest! (2X)” ‘My Glorious’ is a rootsy rock song that places total confidence in God: “Clouds are breaking, heaven’s come to earth/Hearts awakening/Let the church bells ring/And all You ever do is change the old for new/And people/We believe that God is bigger than the air I breathe and the world we’ll leave/God will save the day/And all will say ‘My Glorious! My Glorious!’”
‘Mighty to Save’ was written by Reuben Morgan and Ben Fielding. It’s a modern worship anthem of testimony: “Saviour, He can move the mountains/My God is mighty to save/He is mighty to save/Forever, Author of Salvation/He rose and conquered the grave/Jesus conquered the grave”. ‘Come Thou Fount’ includes these traditional, thought-provoking words: “O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be/Let Thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to Thee/Prone to wander, Lord I feel it/Prone to leave the God I love/Here’s my heart, Lord take and seal it/Seal it for Thy courts above”.
Phil Wickham penned ‘You’re Beautiful’, a wonderful adult contemporary ballad that ends by anticipating heaven: “When we arrive at eternity’s shore/Where death is just a memory and tears are no more/We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring/Your bride will come together and we’ll sing ‘You’re beautiful’”. ‘Hearts Sing Louder’ has an 80’s pop vibe to it. The lyrics are ones of unashamed praise: “May our hearts sing louder than our voices Jesus (2X)/For the only one worthy is the one who freed us.../And we dance, and we praise/And we lift our hearts and say/’Holy, holy, holy is the Lord our God’”.
‘Just As I Am’ includes additional lyrics by lead singer Bart Millard: “O come you who are weary/O come you who have strayed/He has come for the lost/Lay your sins at the cross/And your doubts here at the grave”. Bart and Kendall Combes wrote ‘Psalm 139 (You are There)’, an adult contemporary song that declares: “I will sing/Sing a new song/Because You love me/I will sing/Sing a new song/Because You’re there”.
‘In Christ Alone’ is now a modern worship standard. The version here is pretty and includes these words about the incarnation and the atonement: “In Christ alone/Who took on flesh/Fullness of God in helpless babe/This gift of love and righteousness/Scorned by the ones He came to save/Till on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied/For every sin on Him was laid/Here in the death of Christ I live!” Last up is ‘There is a Fountain’, a reverent and classic ballad: “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins/And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.../Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die”.
THE WORSHIP SESSIONS contains a nice mix of faster paced songs and ballads. Stylewise, you will find adult contemporary, modern worship, and adult rock selections presented here. God is praised for both who He is and what He has done for us. He has rescued us, saving us from the power of sin and death. Because of this, we can look forward with great expectation to our perfect heavenly home where we’ll spend eternity. God is shown to be our loving source of comfort and strength on this album. Bart Millard’s vocals are easy to listen to. I’m rating THE WORSHIP SESSIONS 95%. For more info visit: www.mercyme.org.