Sandra McCracken’s recently recorded musical works have transitioned from an individual to a collective expression.
In this interview at the Rabbit Room the interviewer asks her about the changes involved in moving to a collective and corporate voice in singing.
Her answer is interesting in terms of both song choices and the nature of singing in corporate worship.
Interviewer: You’ve said before that this group of songs — [McCracken’s recent albums] Psalms, God’s Highway, Steadfast Live — is moving away from singer-songwriter music and towards gospel songs. To me, that sounds like moving from a subjective to a collective consciousness of what it means to sing together. I’d love to hear you talk about what it means to make that shift, as well as all the out-workings of singing collectively.
Sandra: That’s an interesting question for me because my answer is always evolving. For a while I was characterizing it this way: the singer-songwriter music I’ve written for the majority of my career is comprised of narrative-based songs, as opposed to gospel or worship songs. But lately I’ve realized that the songs I’ve written and adapted from Scripture, both from the psalms and from other places, are not any less narrative-based than my singer-songwriter music. They’re just somebody else’s narrative I’m embodying. So it’s still personal, it’s still emotional, but it’s someone else’s words. I think my latest evolution of wording around that would be that there are many different kinds of narrative songs.
The idea of a collective voice holds very true for me, though, that these songs are meant to be sung together, to bring people together around common themes of loss and restoration. That is such a shared human experience. Loss is not far from us at any time. So the practice of singing together is a balm and a comfort. That’s how we experience the comfort of God: by singing together. Which is unmistakably a weird thing to do.
It seems countercultural right now in a more pronounced way than in other times of history. We’re in a time of such isolation. Even music is often experienced individually through ear buds in a private context. So the idea of singing together pushes back against that individualism and says we are a community. We’re not alone in this. It’s not bad to listen by yourself, but there’s a different kind of comfort when we walk together.
Read the rest of the interview at The Rabbit Room.