Thursday, July 21, 2005
Lib'ral Who Worships
When Amy Grant was still in grade school, before there was "Contemporary Christian Music," when "Gospel Music" was largely relegated to one of two insular communities or to novelty presentations in the secular world, when some of that Gospel Music was just getting heard alongside rock and roll (I'm ignoring Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers, early Staple Singers, early Curtis Mayfield, as well as a host of country artists led by Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, not to mention Elvis Presley), when Edwin Hawkins was about to get a hearing with O Happy Day, and the Staple Singers with I'll Take You There and Respect Yourself, when Aretha was just working up to her Amazing Grace album, long before Bob Dylan's "Christian" albums and way before the commercial success of "Christian artists" or "Worship Music," a liberal Canadian folk singer was worshipping God and getting his worship played on the radio.
I've been a Bruce Cockburn fan since the release of Inner City Front back in 1981. But he'd been at it for several albums by then. This week I've immersed myself in Cockburn music again, occassioned by my discovery of several more "Deluxe Editions" (Are you tired of these quotation marks yet?!) of his classic discs.
Mostly I've been replacing my old discs with these new remastered versions, which also have at least one bonus song each. But my greatest joy has been the discovery of gems on a couple older offerings that I've never owned. Lot's of great music on these discs, but I want to mention only one song from each.
Amongst the love ballads (never pop-y or syrupy) and the social commentary (often angry), Cockburn never fails to worship God. He has known, like all wise believers, that there's really no separation between our social, personal, and spiritual lives. In the Falling Dark opens with "Lord of the Starfields," a praise song without the selfishness that dominates much of today's praise in worship--It's all about the Lord, not about what the Lord has done for me.
Ironically Further Adventures Of presents another worship song, this time MORE personal than most of today's praise and worship, but still it seems a fitting tribute to Jesus Christ "Can I Go With You" begins
When you ride out of the shining sky
to claim the ones who love you,
can I go with you?
Can I go with you?
How personal, but how worshipful is that?!