Handed Down: Songs of Redemption City is the second EP from Redemption City Church in Franklin, TN – a worship team that clearly values songwriting and singing about the good news. For some that could sound like a throwaway compliment, but Redemption City is uniquely committed to this vision. Launched in 2013, & led by award winning songwriter James Tealy, they’ve already released two EPs, with online resources containing detailed chord charts, & Biblical backgrounds to each song, giving a worship leader all they need to introduce these songs to their own congregations. Regardless of what you think about these songs, the practice of this church is admirable and should be an encouragement to us all.
But what of the songs? Most likely you will love them, or you won’t give them a second listen. There is no bullseye drawn on that radio sound – no octave jumps, or loops or digital sounds. Instead, the songs on Handed Down attempt to speak something new about old familiar topics, and intentionally lean into the lyrics. That will either really excite you, or give you a bit of trepidation as to how well they might go over at your church. It would be worth your time to dig deep because there are some truly remarkable moments within.
“Return” is the fastest song on the EP with solid accents on the 2 and 4 that will get even the most uncoordinated of churches clapping. Guitar-driven, it feels old-school familiar but grounded in a modern Americana country vibe. What won me over about this song is when I realized I was joyously singing about returning to Jesus. This isn’t a somber, Prodigal Son song that wrestles with the tension of guilt and disappointment returning to his father. No, this is the Christian walk of remembering that there is joy returning to Jesus our strength, our song, and our salvation because He is our ultimate satisfaction even if we forget and wander sometimes.
“O Bride of Christ” is a wonderfully written hymn. A beautiful song, it gently swings and packs some incredible theology in its four verses and chorus. Scared to sing or talk about the church being the Bride of Christ and losing the guys? This song is yours. Centering on the church’s identity in Christ and empowering her through Jesus, this is a powerful song.
“Faith of our Fathers” takes the theme of how our faith is passed on from generations to generations and – though I loved the idea – I struggled to get into this one. I found the melody uncomfortable and phrasing hard to grasp, so the music and vocals kept slipping away from me. Depending on your team and church, this one may be hard to handle.
“Speak“, the most current sounding on the EP may be my favorite song on the album. First, you’ll notice the lyrics. Emotively drawing you in, you’re prepared for a chorus of love and adoration, but instead it lands on hearing the voice of God – a pleasant surprise. Hearing from God and speaking about the Holy Spirit can make some people uncomfortable, but not this song. It’s an incredibly intimate song for the church body and a prayer that every single church needs today in their congregation.
“The Power of the Cross” is the one I could see Matt Redman releasing and instantly making it to the Top 100 songs on CCLI. Lyrically there’s a tug and pull on the weight of what the cross means, & the melody is very singable. The flow of the song is perfect for a full band and easy enough for a solo leader on piano or guitar. There’s substance and teaching in the lyrics that will engage the brain as the soul soars with the rise and fall of the music. Electric guitar players may wish to embellish the hook but I imagine that’s the beauty of this song – simplicity in its approach makes everything come together in a much more meaningful way to the lyrics.
Available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, & even Noisetrade, with free resources available from Redemption City. A great EP with at least a couple of songs ready now for your church, small group, or personal worship time. Give it a listen and comment below.
Is the style and direction a refreshing change up from what has become so mainstream? What lyric captivated you most? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
Conner Byrd is a Worship Pastor, Musician, Photographer, & Life Coach in Natchitoches, Louisiana.