Travis recently asked me to post some thoughts on the new Sojourn Album, Over the Grave: the hymns of Isaac Watts, volume 1.
This album is the first of a two-album Isaac Watts project by Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky. (Though a Baptist church, Sojourn is also affiliated with the Acts 29 Network, a group seeking to plant gospel-saturated churches worldwide.) This album has been described by the musicians at Sojourn as “Hi-Wattage”, meaning an indie-rock feel, while the next album will be more folk/acoustic influenced, hence, “Lo-Wattage”.
Let’s get the genre out of the way. There’s no way I would describe this as an indie-rock album. But that’s not a bad thing. It’s just an inaccurate genre designation to place on an album with such a variety of sounds. For one thing, producers Mike Cosper and Neil Robins have outdone themselves in making this album different from their other albums. While I enjoyed Advent Songs (especially the new tune for “Joy to the World”), this album is on a completely different level of creativity of lyric writing, composition, and arranging.
This is not a project like Red Mountain Church or Indelible Grace or even my own music. These are not hymn texts with new tunes. They are new compositions inspired by the hymn texts. This becomes clear by comparing one of the pieces. On the left is Isaac Watts’ Hymn 15 and on the right is Sojourn’s “May Your Power Rest on Me”, inspired by that hymn.
Our own weakness, and Christ our strength.
Let me but hear my Savior say,
I glory in infirmity,
I can do all things, or can bear
But if the Lord be once withdrawn,
[So Samson, when his hair was lost,
May Your Power Rest on Me
Written by Joel Gerdis and Neil Robins
Let me hear my Savior say,
Let me know my Savior’s face;
Once from the Lord withdrawn
Though the trial still goes on,
I’ll have more thoughts tomorrow. If you’ve heard this album, what are your thoughts?