Friday, 21 March 2014

The Art of Celebration

Last Monday my favourite band, Rend Collective, released their latest album, titled The Art of Celebration and I have been listening to it all week.  The songs have an energy and life to them and contain many truths and promises.  The premise of the album is that God is always worth celebrating, no matter what the circumstances of our lives and sets the tone by opening:
We’re choosing celebration
Breaking into Freedom
You’re the song...
Of our hearts
This song, Joy, is one of my favourites on the album, the lines "The pain will not define us/Joy will reignite us" have been resonating with me, so often I feel like my identity is being subsumed by illness.  There is an interesting dance remix of this song at the end of the album, while dance music isn't usually my scene, it can work for worship music and it mixes well with rhythms of Irish origin often used by Rend Collective.

The band have talked about not liking being pigeon-holed as a "folk" band and have tried to diversify for this album, but I would say to them not to worry about it, their original philosophy of making music that anyone could get involved in is great, stick with that philosophy.  It is much closer to historical church music than the "traditional" organ and choir music, which originated in the nineteenth century when village music groups were banished from churches in favour of organs.  Let's put worship back into the hands of the people and have inclusive music that has its roots in the past but has freshness for today.

I am terrible at celebrating, terrible at seeing and remembering the good in life and in God; it sometimes feels like my brain is fixated on the bad, the evil, my sin, endless darkness.  But the Bible is packed with people celebrating God, Paul and Silas singing their hymns in prison in Acts 16 particularly come to mind and I hope this album can help me to learn more about always celebrating Jesus and what He has done and is going to do.  Despite the name the songs do acknowledge the hard side of life, it is not mindless "everything is wonderful" stuff, but about the conscious choice to celebrate.  Darkness, deserts, pain, doubts, questions, sorrows, shadows are all allowed in and acknowledged, but placed in their proper perspective of God's grace and goodness and mercy and light.

There's so much I love about this album, I will admit to not being the most moderate or measured reviewer (though honestly I am not in their pay and I bought my copy!), it has brightened up a dull week and has a message I badly need.  Have a listen - in their generosity the band have put the lyric videos on youtube - see what you think, buy a copy, celebrate.

By your power I can change, I can change
‘Cos you’re not finished with me yet 
This is the art of celebration
Knowing were free from condemnation
Oh praise the One, praise the One 

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