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I’ve listened through to Robin Mark‘s newest CD “Year of Grace” a couple of times and one thing is for sure – if you are a fan of Robin Mark, you will like this CD. This 12-song CD was recorded live at North Syracuse Baptist Church in Syracuse, NY back in January and produced by Paul Mills.
Here’s a quick blurb from Robin that was posted on his site about this album –
The Syracuse Live recording was a big success and many thanks to the 1500 people that filled North Syracuse Baptist to capacity (and more) and lent their voices to a great time of worship. Paul Mills (producer) reckons he has captured the event completely and is delighted with the results. release date still to be confirmed. Album title likely to be “Year of Grace”. Explanation to follow!!
Robin Mark is probably best known for his “Revival In Belfast” albums but you should also know that Robin has spent the last 20+ years leading worship at his church in Ireland and spent much of that time as the Director of Worship at Christian Fellowship Church in Belfast. You may also be surprised that Robin is super smart, started and ran an acoustic design company and is a lecturer at Belfast’s Queen’s University. No joke – the dude is smart!
You should also know that Robin has a real deep desire to see the church engaged in genuine worship and to see her leaders grow in their understanding of worship and worship leading. Earlier this year I was fortunate to be part of a small group of people who spent an evening with Robin at a little church here in Orangeville, Canada. To hear him play some of the songs that we sing at our church, teach us some of these new songs and then hear him spend some time talking about the heart and vision behind the songs made an incredible impact. If you have never been part of a service that Robin is leading, do your best to get there sometime – you will not be disappointed.
Okay – on to the album. Here’s my track-by-track summary –
1. Holy Is Our God
Very solid opener and definitely a call to worship feel to the song. “Lift up His name within the sanctuary / Lift up His name”. I really like the progression of the lyric theme in this – starting with a call to the people around us to lift up His name, the chorus then celebrates who He is and the second verse moves to a proclamation of creation declaring the greatness of God. Sounds like a very solid opener for a Sunday morning.
The nice Irish quick 6/8 feel makes an early appearance :) So does the whistle! This is classic Robin Mark and a very solid song of encouragement.. “For I know He’s the hope for the helpless / And a comfort to all those who mourn.” There aren’t a lot of songs that address some of the themes that Robin is writing about here and fewer songs that do them with this uptempo feel.
3. There Is None Like You (co-written with Johnny Parks)
A song entirely focused on the praise and adoration of God because of who He is and what He’s done. The feel on the recording is pretty country but this song could definitely work for lots of churches. The lyrics are bang on and the melody is pretty straightforward. “Work in us this transformation / Changed from glory into glory, making all things new.” Amen.
4. All Is Well (written by Johnny Parks and Claire Hamilton)
Robin’s song introductions are done so well. He has obviously taken time to really think through what he’s going to say to introduce a song. I really appreciate that. This is the kind of song that is easy to sing but hard to believe, in the deepest sense – “He lowers us to raise us / So we can sing His praises / Whatever is His way, all is well.” Yeah. Easy to believe, hard to believe. But a great affirmation of the sovereignty and providence of our God. Robin really takes his time with this one – it’s a 7-minute track.
5. Glory To Your Name
I really like the little melody lines on this song – nice stuff. Robin has this great ability to be so God-focused in his lyrics and congregation-friendly in his melodies. I really appreciate that.
6. Year Of Grace
Beautiful. I love the picture painted in this song – “Eternal God in time and space / O keep me ever in the year of grace.” We have no plea, no reason, no offering that should move God towards our redemption but He has done it regardless. I could see this song being sung over a congregation during a time of reflection on God’s love for us. Good stuff.
7. Highly Exalted (co-written with Paul Baloche)
Another pretty long track – about 6 1/2 minutes. Of course some more whistle and really nice strummy guitars :) This song tells the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and how through that, God Himself is highly exalted. The lyric almost presents the crucifixion as the coronation of Christ the King – interesting perspective.
8. Some Trust In Chariots
I mentioned earlier that I was able to be part of a small worship gathering with Robin earlier this year. This is one of the songs we sang together that night. Robin took some time to explain this lyric – “The Lamb of God once slain upon the cross / where Heaven’s light divine shone on that frame / and cast its shadow through eternal days.” The picture of the impact and consequence of sin being eternally removed because of the death of Christ. The lasting impact and consequence of His sacrifice is as though the shadow from Calvary continues to cover our sin. Beautiful picture. And.. I’m a sucker for choruses that start on the V chord!
9. Greater The One
This song is very nice and Robin does a great job singing it but it’s the one that I found myself skipping as I was listening to the CD. Lots of other good stuff on the CD to get to.
10. I Am Persuaded
A real of affirmation of the character of God and a justification of our certainty in that. “When darkness shades the path on which I walk / In You O Lord I choose to place my trust.” Lots of whistle in this one.
11. Rend The Heavens
I love it when we use words in worship songs that we never use anywhere else :) One of the things that really does fascinate me as a worship leader is the picture that as the people of God gather together for worship that the God of their worship comes and inhabits those praises – that He is in our midst. I don’t think I will ever understand it but that’s okay. A great picture of the church gathering together in all of her glory around the throne of God, continuing to sing His praises.
12. One Day (co-written with Vicky Beeching)
Alright – when I first got this CD to review, this is the song I was most excited about reviewing. Another song that we sang together at our small little gathering, Robin spent a good chunk of time explaining how this song came about and told some of the story of the collaborative process with Vicky Beeching. If there’s a “hit” on this album, I’m pretty sure it’s this one – the lyrics are great, the feel is bang on, the melody is singable and the whole thing is just begging the crowd to sing out.
So, all in all, you could say that this is more of the same from Robin Mark. If you are a fan, get this CD – you will not be disappointed. If Robin’s previous work hasn’t really done it for you, you’re probably okay to let this one slide by.