O For That Day

Enfield, Connecticut, is the town made famous by the preaching of Jonathan Edwards' sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." The band is so named because it was formed to play at the "Resolved Conference" (a ministry of Grace Community Church). The "Resolved" Conference derives its name from Jonathan Edwards' "Resolutions." These "Resolutions" were a series of commitments Edwards made to God when he realized his own sinfulness in view of God's holiness. Each resolution begins "Resolved, ________".

The theme of the 2009 conference (and the album produced for it) was sin and the rescue from sin that is and will be Heaven. I have never been more excited and about (and grateful because of) my rescue from sin to an eventual home in Heaven than I have been these past few weeks after falling in love with this album. I urge you to give the album the half-hearted listen with 30% of your attention that you likely typically give to an album. Then, I implore you to set aside 45 minutes to do nothing other than to listen to the album and to focus on its thrilling message!

There are a few familiar lyrics ("On Jordan's Stormy Banks", "Fairest Lord Jesus", "What Wondrous Love Is This") on the album, but the majority of the songs are new, fresh, and written specifically for this album. Although the texts are largely new, they're written in a very staid, familiar cadence that feels much like a hymn text. Because of this meter, all but one of the songs on the album would be excellent choices for congregational worship, and that one exception would make a powerful offering of testimony for a soloist. The musical style is an invigorating blend of folk, indie rock, and blues with positively gorgeous harmonies that beautifully express the wonder and awe that we ought to feel in the presence of our Messiah, during the consideration of His work, and upon our contemplation of our journey towards His Heaven.

The album opens with a bright, energetic indie-rock setting of one of the many new texts the album introduces. Right off the bat, "Eternal Praise" reveals the theme of the album (our hope of Heaven because of the work Christ has done to ransom man) and makes sure we know that no songs on this album will be theological lightweights. "Eternal Praise" raises our longing for Heaven: "Where we will bow at our Father's throne, and walk with Him on streets of gold, and kiss the Christ we long to behold. We'll praise the Lamb for sinners slain, who wrote with blood our eternal praise."

The title track begins with a very light, folk piano feel. Elements of indie-rock show through in increasing doses throughout the song until the balance is tipped towards the end of the song and the folk feel give way to the exclamation of joy at which indie-rock so excels. This song more than any other on the album has reignited my longing for and passion about Heaven. "We all know of the day, when He'll come to reclaim the earth from the beast and cast to the flame. King Jesus, the Just, The One Faithful and True. O for that day!"

"Finally Home" begins with a driving, haunting new setting of "On Jordan's Stormy Banks" and continues with an exultant chorus that exclaims: "We will sing on that day, Hallelujah, Bless Your Name! We will bow at Your throne singing, Hallelujah! We are finally home!" This is one of the best instances I've ever seen of a new setting that so greatly enhances the message of the text that I can't imagine ever singing the old setting again.

"Here Am I" is without a doubt the best setting of Isaiah 6's account of Isaiah's encounter with our glorious God, Isaiah's wonder our God's holiness, and Isaiah's acknowledgment of his own, human, lowness before God. "Woe is me! For I am undone and my lips are unclean. You chose me to carry your Word 'til the end of my days. My eyes have seen the King of all kings."

"Wayfaring Stranger" is the one exception to the statement the "every song on the album is suitable for congregational singing." The blues style and simple verse about a struggling traveller ultimately gives way to a powerful anthem of expectation regarding the end of our journey: "I'm going there to see my Father! I'm going there no more to roam. I'm just a-goin' over Jordan; I'm just a-goin' over home!"

"Anchored" focuses on the security of the believer's position because of hope (confident expectation) we have of Heaven (Titus 1:2, 2:13, 3:7, Hebrews 7:22). "No man or angel can keep me from Him. My hope in Heaven is steadfast and firm. Though trials and suffering come, Death cannot win, so we live in light of Our Great King's return."

"Wondrous Love" demonstrates that a classic text and a classic tune can be reinforced with a new chorus. The song begins with the familiar, haunting, awe-inspiring melody and lyric "What Wondrous Love Is This" and develops into a vibrant, energetic, joyful chorus: "What wondrous love God's given to send us His Son from Heaven above. Now, in Christ we're risen. O what glorious, O what wondrous love!"

"Alive in Christ" combination of strings, synth, percussion, and guitar exudes barely contained energy that is desperate to be released. The setting very well compliments the text that praises Christ for his victory over Sin and Death and Hell. "We are alive in Christ our Lord, our Life. He died to win. He conquered sin, and gave the blind their site. We are free from Death, its curse, its sting. The Spirit's song gives life alone to those who would believe."

"Arrived" imagines the moment when we awake in Heaven before our Christ. The quiet, contemplative song begins with piano, light guitar, and a single, simple voice. A cello is added on the second verse as is a lghtly plucked electric guitar. The music cooperates with the text to convey the increasing joy and realization of where the singer is (Heaven) and Who he can see (Jesus). "When we've arrived, stunned and surprised, all things resolved in the blink of an eye. No more distractions, no sin left to find. The first glimpse of Jesus and faith becomes sight."

"The Longing" is a believer's prayer to God to sustain him in the walk and expresses the believer's longing for further sanctification and ultimate glorification. "Lord, let me long for the Heavenly shore. Though wonders fill this world, there awaits much more. O Lord, let it seem closer than a distant dream and make my heart pine for that fair Land like ne'er before." "O Father strip from me all but breath and love for Thee, so all that is within me will depend on You alone."

The music of the entire album has a bit of an "other-worldly" feel to it, but the setting of "Fairest Lord Jesus" most definitely presents that perspective. This setting caused me to view the text not as an actual description of Christ as He was on earth, but a figurative/metaphorical description of Christ, Our King as the author's best attempt to portray the beauty of his Savior. "Jesus shines brighter; Jesus shines purer than all the angels Heaven can boast!"

The soft, simple, beautiful string and piano instrumentals and lilting vocals of the setting of "Unfailing Grace" set the tone for a text detailing the sweetness of the grace by which we are saved. "What violent waves of timid faith sow seeds of doubt and fear. I crawl to Christ Who takes my hand--He always draws me near. He leads me to the banks of life and lets me drink and stay. And as the deer is panting near, Lord, help me do the same."

 

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