If you share my belief that the Church should make music that reflects the excellence and creativity of God and the diversity of his people, then you may celebrate the arrival of this collection.

Independent: https://throughtheages.christchurchlondon.org
Time:   12 tracks / 47 mins

This is the first release from Christ Church London, but it makes such a bold statement that other church worship creators should take note.

Its difference from factory worship music is striking from the first second. Reverse sounds lead us back to creation, with spoken word poetically re-working the first chapter of Genesis over an intricate mix of strings effects, jazz piano, discreet guitar and an assertive rhythm section (the bass is excellent throughout).

This collection looks to place us in the time-stream from creation through to the second coming (hence the title). So the second track, still in Genesis mode, prays for the creative work of the Spirit to break into our chaos, bringing “the rhythms of your peace;” while the final song, echoing verses in Romans, says, “Life’s groans ache deeply in our bones, yet your promised return whispers hope... the future is safe in your hands, because you’re coming back.”

Its only false step is “The Creed,” a short spoken piece read in short sections by a diverse set of church members. It may express who they are, but the disjointed and staccato way it is done spoils the flow.

Elsewhere, the disc works beautifully and is rich in cliché-free content. The highly intelligent, brief and spiritually astute “Augustine’s Confessions” is a passionately read poem of wondrous adoration, praising God as, “Most hidden, yet most present... You don’t change, yet you change all things... You seek, yet possess all things... You forgive debts, but lose nothing. You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.”

The collection often reveals thoughtful detail, such as when that refrain breaks into “Restless.”

That care extends to balancing creativity with accessibility. This is like typical worship music, but more soulful with a wider spread of styles; it is easy on the ear, with more memorable moments than you’d expect from any one church, and should still appeal to those who like their worship music safe. Two short, jazzy instrumental tracks, with solos from sax and a tasty note-bending synth, add space to the soundscape.

The players and singers put in impressive performances, showing both talent and understanding.

If you believe that the Church should make music that reflects the excellence and creativity of God and the diversity of his people, then here is a collection to celebrate.

Derek Walker