Review provided by Jesse Gordon. Thanks for taking the time to review for The Worship Community!
Last week, John Mark McMillan released “The Medicine”, his much anticipated new studio project. While most everyone has heard “How He Loves”, I was anxious to hear what this new collection had to offer. My initial impression was that this is an album that’s going to get a lot of plays on my iPod.
The album as a whole feels to me more like a collection of songs than an overarching narrative, although that doesn’t detract from the quality of the songs. I found that the majority of the songs aren’t really appropriate for congregational singing, but there are 4 songs that I feel are ready to be sung corporately. These are “Skeleton Bones”, “Dress Us Up”, “My Only”, and “How He Loves”.
The first of these songs is “Skeleton Bones”. While I don’t think that the language would connect with a multi-generational congregation, it is definitely a song I would use when leading student and young adult services. The stand out line for me is the refrain at the end: “Oh let us adore the Son of Glory drenched in love / Open up your gates before him, Crown Him, stand Him up”.
The second of the songs I would use in a corporate setting is “Dress Us Up”. For me, this is the stand out track of the entire album. Stylistically it sits right in line with a lot of modern worship tunes, feeling like U2’s “With or Without You”, and it’s definitely accessible to most bands. I really think there is some excellent theology in this song. The line that I think is most powerful is the second verse. It says:
Dress us up in the blood of a son
Who opened up his veins so that we would overcome
Hell and the grave in the power of his love
After three dark days he showed us how it’s done
And he still does
While I don’t think it would be used for congregational singing, the song “Death in His Grave” is a powerful song recounting Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. My immediate thought was to use this for a video or slideshow, or to reflect on during certain seasons of the year. Here’s the chorus:
On Friday a thief, On Sunday a King
Laid down in grief ,But awoke holding keys
To Hell on that day, The first born of the slain
The Man Jesus Christ, Laid death in his grave
Overall, I really enjoy this album. As I said before, I wouldn’t consider it as an overarching story or a full set of worship songs, but the songwriting is fresh, and the songs which have congregational potential are solid. The music itself is great, specifically the guitar tones, and the group singing is always a plus. As I said initially, this album will continue to receive a lot of play for me.
BIO: Jesse Gordan is an almost 24-year-old, soon-to-be seminary student who loves to lead and sing with my church family. I’ve been in music ministry in non-vocational but consistent roles for about 9 years either as the worship leader or a member of a band. I enjoy the book of Hebrews, guitars, coffee, a good book, and robust dialogue a.k.a. a good debate.