Media Review: “Psalms” by Sovereign Grace Music

Title: “Psalms”
Musical Group: Sovereign Grace Music
Media Type: Audio CD
Release Date: July 2008
Tagline: “Modern interpretations of the psalmists’ passions, prayers, and praises”
Rating: 5/5
Purchase: CD from Sovereign Grace Store, MP3 album from Amazon.com

A few days ago I did an introduction to Sovereign Grace Music and their songwriting philosophy. This album is a prime example of an album that fulfills SGM’s goal of “Christ-exalting lyrics.” (I am positive that every other album is, as well; it’s just that I only own two of them. I really should own more…) SGM’s tagline to this album states that the songs are “modern interpretations.” Don’t be put off by this–“interpretations” here is not an bad buzz word that means they changed the meanings of the songs. It merely means that SGM set the psalmists’ words to what they think is suitable music for the content.

If you visit the album’s page, you will find that you can download the guitar charts or the lyrics (which, along with the lead sheets and even piano scores are completely free on their website). Do so and you will find the number of the psalm from which the lyrics were taken. (I’m sure the same thing is in the booklet included in the cover of the CD, but I don’t have the physical copy with me, so I can’t be sure.) SGM is quite serious when they call this album “Psalms.” They want you to know that the meanings, and often times the exact language, of the Psalms is used in this album. I appreciate not only the fact that they include the psalm numbers, which to me indicates a desire to be accountable for their lyrics, but the fact that they produced an album of worship songs adapted from one of the greatest musical worshipers of all times.

Which brings me, as I believe it always will with SGM, to rich lyrical content. The psalms are rich, not only in diction and imagery, but in theology. It makes a lot of sense to me to create modern musical adaptation from these passages which were once set to music. This is not an album of weak or poor theology. A quick look at song titles, such as “God Is Our Refuge” and “Glorious and Mighty,” reveal that the album rightly places emphasis on God and His work and not on man. Even in a song called “I Want to be Where You Are,” the song speaks of wanting to be with God because of how good He is.

Of note also is the fact that SGM does not fail to include praise for God’s work in the gospel. They understand that the gospel is the thing upon which our lives are built. It is the reason we are able to praise God and to think of Him as a “refuge,” or that He is “greater than we can imagine.” The following lyrics illustrate this:

And if you judged my sin I’d never stand again
But I see mercy in Your hands
(“Out of the Depths,” verse 1)

And You obeyed Your Father, and in You was no sin
But You were counted guilty and died our death
(“God Shall Arise,” verse 2)

Blessed is the one
Who trusts in God the Son
His steadfast love the sinner’s hiding place

Jesus, Your blood covers all my sin
Jesus, Your love draws my heart to sing
What a Savior, Jesus
(“Blessed Is the One,” verse 1 and chorus)

We are all sinners. God required us to be perfect as He is perfect, a requirement He had every right to make as the One who made us. But everyone of us has failed to obey God’s commands; we have all failed to live according to His standards. As such, He has every right to punish us by sending us to Hell for eternity.

But God, in His great love and mercy, sent His Son to earth. Jesus, the Son, lived a perfect life, fulfilling all of God’s laws. In His great love and mercy, God punished Jesus for all of our sins. Jesus was crucified, having done no wrong, in order that we might be seen as innocent and righteous. For those that believe this, for those that accept it and thank God for the sacrifice of His Son, this is the greatest thing of our lives. I think Sovereign Grace Music is right to make this the centerpiece of their worship songs and I thank them for it. It is a joy to be able to sing with fellow believers about God’s overwhelming love as demonstrated in the cross.

In short, the lyrical content is rich. I haven’t talked much about the music at all, but it is unique and catchy and very suited for corporate worship. Neither of these elements leaves me wanting much at all (and what little it does, I find in their other albums). I highly recommend this album for listening and for corporate worship.

(All lyrics are property of Sovereign Grace Music.)

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