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JesusFaceOnCrossI’ve said before that I’m not a huge fan of a lot of contemporary Christian music these days. I’m not saying it’s bad, far from it. It just tends to not be my style. I was a worship leader when I was in college in the late 90s and a lot of the stuff we did was just these “praise choruses” that repeated themselves over and over. It was one thing if there were verses too, but often there weren’t. I know, I know, I heard all the stuff about “well, if it’s just a simple chorus people can just focus on the Spirit moving without having to think about the words.” Problem was, I kind of thought that you should listen to and take seriously the words that leave your lips, but anyway, it’s mostly a stylistic difference.

However, at the same time that I was leading worship at my own Christian Reformed Church, I was also spending time a few blocks over being a cantor at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church here in Ogden. I loved every minute of it, and not just because they paid me. I fell in love with liturgy. I fell in love with the ancient traditions of the church. I fell in love with their music as well, which were usually beautifully written songs that would sound at home in either a traditional or a contemporary service, and they often were totally based on scripture, like the hymns I grew up singing and love to this day. I was thrilled when I saw that the United Methodist Hymnal contained several of these songs!

Fast forward to last year. I was listening to “The Message” on SiriusXM and heard a song that our choir had done at church a couple of times. It was “Lord, I Need You,” by Matt Maher. I liked his voice and then a couple of days later I heard another one of his songs, so I decided to check him out on Spotify. I loved it. He has a great voice, his songs have a lot of depth to them, and check this guy out:

mattmaher
I have to get my eyes checked soon, and I was pretty sure I wanted Adam Hamilton glasses, but I don’t know. I think I might go for the Matt Maher specs! Also, my beard is starting to get more gray in it than I’d like, but if I could get it to look like that I’d be set! I’ll never have that much hair again though.

Kidding aside, he’s a great musician and the more I heard, the more I liked. Then the other day I was listening to a new playlist of his stuff on Spotify and heard the little gem “Adoration.” The old cantor in me quickly recognized the tune “Tantum Ergo,” which I sang countless times at St. Joseph’s when they held Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I used to love that. Growing up as an evangelical protestant, I didn’t believe in transubstantiation, the changing of the communion elements into the literal body and blood of Christ, but I definitely believe that Christ is palpably present whenever the Christian rite of Holy Communion (or the Eucharist) is celebrated. Holy Communion is actually one of only two sacraments that we recognize in the United Methodist Church, the other being baptism, but I believe that Christ recognizes whenever his followers remember his sacrifice in bread and wine (or, um, Welch’s grape juice for us Methodists.)

I looked into Matt a little bit and found that he was a practicing Catholic. No wonder I connected to his music! So many of his songs give me the same feeling I used to get when I worshiped with my Catholic brothers and sisters. In “Adoration” Maher takes the beautiful, traditional song used in the rite and infuses it with a modern chorus:

Jesus, Lamb of God
Saving love for all
Lord of heaven and earth
Father’s love for all
I bow to you
Jesus, Lamb of God
Saving love for all
Lord of heaven and earth
I bow to you, bow to you, I bow to you

christvictorIsn’t that the message of Christ distilled into almost it’s purest form? I think it is. My confession is this: That Jesus the Christ is Lord of heaven and earth. His saving love is for all. I will bow to him and gladly submit my life to His love and grace.

“Pour upon us, Lord of mercy
Spirit of thy selfless love
Make of us one true heart yearning
For the glory of thy Son
Jesus, fire of justice blazing
Gladdening light forevermore”

I couldn’t find a good video of Matt performing the song live, but below is the live track version from his album “All the People Said Amen.” Check it out and check out more of Matt’s music on whichever listening platform you prefer. This truly is one of the songs I closely associate with my faith journey.

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