Friday, January 26, 2018
Casting Crowns began as a student worship band in Daytona Beach, Florida in 1999 led by youth pastor Mark Hall. Mark A. Miller, the lead singer of country music's Sawyer Brown, heard one of their independent albums and they were the first group signed to his Beach Street Records, a division of Reunion Records. In 2003 Casting Crowns released the self-titled album CASTING CROWNS. It was produced by Miller and Steven Curtis Chapman and executive produced by Terry Hemmings. The group's roster was comprised of two ladies and five men. In the liner notes the band writes: "Thank You Father in Heaven for taking what little we offer You and using it to reach others. You are King of Kings and may all of our little kingdoms bow before You. We love you Father and we sing for Your glory!"
1. Starting things off is 'What if His People Prayed', one of many on the album where Mark Hall writes the lyrics and the whole group writes the music. It is a pop/rock number that speaks of the difference prayer can make: "What if His people prayed/And those who bare His Name/Would humbly seek His face/And turn from their own way?/And what would happen if we prayed/For those raised up to lead the way?/Then maybe kids in school could pray/And unborn children see light of day".
2. 'If We are the Body' was the album's first single and a #1 hit. It is a pop song urging Christians to make a difference in the world in which we live: "If we are the body/Why aren't His arms reaching?/Why aren't His hands healing?/Why aren't His words teaching?/And if we are the body/Why aren't His feet going?/Why is His love not showing them there is a way?/There is a way".
3. 'Voice of Truth' was the album's third single and spent 14 weeks at #1. Written by Mark Hall and Steven Curtis Chapman, it is an adult contemporary ballad about fighting fear with faith: "The waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me/Reminding me of all the times I've tried before and failed/The waves they keep on telling me/Time and time again, 'Boy, you'll never win!'/'You'll never win!'/But the Voice of truth tells me a different story/The Voice of truth says, 'Do not be afraid!'/And the Voice of truth says, 'This is for My glory'/Out of all the voices calling out to me/I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth".
4. 'Who Am I' was the album's second single and also made it to the top of the chart. It's a beautiful song with strings performed by Jonathan Yudkin and Bernie Herms. It speaks of God's care for us: "I am a flower quickly fading/Here today and gone tomorrow/A wave tossed in the ocean/A vapor in the wind/Still You hear me when I'm calling/Lord, You catch me when I'm falling/And You've told me who I am/I am Yours (2X)".
5. 'American Dream' is an adult pop/rock track that focuses on fathers who aren't there for their kids physically and emotionally: "Not this time son, I've no time to waste/Maybe tomorrow we'll have time to play/And then he slips into his new BMW/And drives farther and farther and farther away/So He works all day and tries to sleep at night/He says things will get better/Better in time".
6. 'Here I Go Again' is about winning souls: "Lord, You love him so, You gave Your only Son/If he will just believe, he will never die/But how then will he know what he has never heard/Lord he has never seen mirrored in my life?/This might be my last chance to tell him that You love him (2X)".
7. 'Praise You With the Dance' is a cheery modern worship number: "I will sing to the Lord/And I will lift my hands/For You have brought me out of the pit (2X)/And I'll sing glory, hallelujah/I lift Your Name on high/I'll sing holy, 'cause You're worthy/I'll praise You with the dance".
8. On 'Glory' Hector Cervantes helps Mark Hall with these not most creative lyrics: "You are holy in this place/You are worthy of my praise and we worship You/Jesus, we worship You.../When You call my Name, I'll run to You/I'll do anything You ask me to/Falling on my knees I worship You, my Lord/We give you GLORY".
9. 'Life of Praise' is a catchy upbeat modern worship song: "I will serve You Lord, always for You are my strength/When I am weak/I will never be afraid for You are my rock and You protect me/But I'll praise You for You are holy, Lord/And I'll lift my hands, but You are worthy of so much more".
10. Last up is a quiet cover of Darrell Evans' 1998 song 'Your Love is Extravagant'. It is intimate: "Your love is extravagant/Your friendship, it is intimate/I feel like moving to the rhythm of Your grace/Your fragrance is intoxicating in our secret place/Your love is extravagant".
This album, CASTING CROWNS, peaked at #2 on the Billboard Christian Albums Chart and was nominated for a Dove Award for 'Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year'. It's an excellent album that gives good advice on how we are to spend our time here on earth as believers in Jesus Christ, and that lifts up God with songs of praise. Musically, it's a good mix of pop/rock and modern worship which should appeal to a wide variety of age groups. I'm rating it 100 percent. For more info visit: www.castingcrowns.com.