Sabbath music: new Matthew Smith of Indelible Grace

Some of you may know of our fondness for the band Indelible Grace, who have put out four good albums of old, old hymns, redone in a contemporary folk-rock, somewhat acoustic, Americana/rootsy style.
I love grungy feedbacky guitar and mandolin, sweet violin and indie rock vocals. Indelible Grace’s arrangements are very cool, worship music not as big as David Crowder or Chris Tomlin but still appreciated by young music fans.
This is very sobering music, just a bit unplugged, energetic, passionately moving. The tunes are well crafted, and most are truly singable.
But the lyrics are the bigger point, and the band would say so. They are convinced (as you can read about at their website, here) that contemporary praise and worship is too often too cheery, peppy and passionate, but not theologically substantive enough. (And, as I sometimes tell the leaders at our church, not just shallow, but theologically wrong-headed!) These older hymns, at least the sort that they pick, often written in the 18th or 19th centuries, really get it right. That the band is sponsored by Reformed University Fellowship makes sense of their appreciation of the old Puritan insights about the human condition, our inability to rescue ourselves, God’s merciful initiatives to save us, and the curious ways exalting Christ leads to deep, deep, gladness.
Matthew Smith is the front man of the traveling IG band and we loved his first solo album, and his excellent Christmas recording. (Make a note: call or email Hearts & Mind December 1st 2007 and order it!) A new, mellow release—featured as brand new at Jubilee 2007—is called All I Owe. I recommend it not only as Lord’s Day listening, but for any day. It has truly blessed me in recent hard times, and I want not only to help promote and sell ’em, but to thank Matthew for his friendly interest in H&M. Check out his blog, here, and listen to some of the CD online.
The wonderful Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing is done pretty acoustically and spare, using the normal tune. It, alone, is worth the price of the disc. I’ve been touched by the truths of the 19th century poem, by Robert Murray McCheyne, rendered by Smith as the title track, which reminds us of the core matters of the gospel. And, in times of trouble, The Lord Will Provide is a fine reminder, penned in the late 1700’s by one John Newton.
The remarkable Anne Steele centuries ago wrote How Helpless and in Matthew’s hands, its lyric richness becomes a very moving contemporary hymn.
How helpless guilty nature lies,
Unconscious of its load
The heart, unchanged, can never rise
To happiness and God
Can nothing less than power divine
The stubborn will subdue?
‘Tis Thine, eternal Spirit, Thine
To form the heart anew.
‘Tis Thine, the passions to recall,
And upwards bid them rise;
And make the scales of error fall,
From reason’s darkened eye
To chase the shades of death away
And bid the sinner live
Heaven’s beam, a vital ray
‘Tis Thine alone to give
Oh change these wretched hearts of ours
And give them life divine;
Then shall our passions and our powers,
Almighty Lord be Thine.
Oh change these wretched hearts of ours
And give them life divine;
Then shall our passions and our powers,
Almighty Lord be Thine.
Here is an informal YouTube video of them live, doing Come Ye Sinners.
Here, from the same informal concert, is a spiffy version of them ripping through How Can It Be. (It isn’t every day you get Puritan hymns with the descant singer wearing a Husker Du shirt.)
is a live version of a song that I can hardly listen to without tears, sung by Sandra McCraken and Derek Webb, who have helped with the IG projects. Listen to her casual intro remarks, talking about why old hymns are good, and why learning some old vocabulary words may be nice, too. Say Amen sombody!
And if the emotions don’t flow with this one, I would check my heart. Here, Sandra and Derek do an informal, live version of one of the Indelible Grace re-makes of a song written by a blind 18th century preacher,
O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.

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