Establish The Work Of Our Hands, featuring Aaron Keyes and Urban Doxology is a reflection on Psalm 90 by Keyes and Sandra McCracken and is a track on Work Songs, the recently released album from The Porter’s Gate Worship Project.
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.
Especially if you haven’t got any recordings by Sandra McCracken, her Live album is a wonderful collection of her work.
Those of us who have previous works in her catalogue are hearing a fresh expression of old favourites.
I’ve had a few kickstarter and pledge music albums arriving lately.
Sandra McCracken’s Steadfast Live is one of those.
Here’s the title track.
I’ve featured I Am Ashamed before, but not as a Sunday Song.
‘I Am Ashamed’ Lyrics by Don Carson; music by Sandra McCracken
I used to nurture bitterness,
To count up every slight.
The world’s a moral wilderness,
And I have felt its blight.
Self-pity ruled, resentment reigned;
No one understood my pain.
I spiraled down in murky night,
Insisting that I had the right
To hate and hate again.
I am ashamed;
O, my Lord, forgive.
But then the gospel taught me how
To contemplate the cross.
For there Christ died for me—and now
I’ve glimpsed the bitter cost.
He bore abuse, and blows, and hate;
He did not retaliate.
Triumphant malice sneered and tossed
Blind rage at him—he never lost
The love that conquers hate.
I am ashamed;
O, my Lord, forgive.
To make no threat, to smile, forgive,
To love—and not because I must,
For Jesus showed me how to live
And trust the One who’s just;
To suffer wrong and feel the pain,
Certain that the loss is gain—
O God, I want so much to trust,
To follow Jesus on the cross,
To love and love again.
Lyrics by Don Carson; music by Sandra McCracken
Copyright 2016 DRINK YOUR TEA MUSIC (ASCAP), Admin. by Music Services
All Sons And Daughters with Sandra McCracken perform an acoustic version of I Wait.
Vocals by Sandra McCracken of an Indelible Grace tune for James Montgomery’s lyrics.
The lyrics: (The IG arrangement repeats the last line of each verse twice.)
Go to dark Gethsemane,
You who feel the tempter’s pow’r;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see;
Watch with Him one bitter hour;
Turn not from His griefs away;
Learn of Jesus Christ to pray.
Follow to the judgment hall;
View the Lord of life arraigned;
O the worm-wood and the gall!
O the pangs His soul sustained!
Shun not suff’ring, shame, or loss;
Learn of Him to bear the cross.
Calv’ry’s mournful mountain climb
There’ adoring at His feet,
Mark the miracle of time,
God’s own sacrifice complete:
“It is finished!” Hear the cry;
Learn of Jesus Christ to die.
Early hasten to the tomb
Where they laid his breathless clay;
All is solitude and gloom;
Who hath taken Him away?
Christ is ris’n! He meets our eyes:
Savior, teach us so to rise.