See the Morning
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2006 1 Sep
- How Can I Keep from Singing?
- Made to Worship
- Let God Arise
- Everlasting God
- Glory in the Highest
- Awesome Is the Lord Most High
- Uncreated One
- Let Your Mercy Rain
- Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)
In only two years, Chris Tomlin has gone from humble worship leader to flagship artist for EMI's Christian music division. Sure, he's long been well known in the contemporary church, with
With expectations high, there are multiple angles to approach his eagerly anticipated follow-up,
But styles and themes are tangential to this artist's work. His songs have been interpreted in different styles, his lyrics favoring simple words of praise rather than contributing to some grand thesis. As much as we'd like to believe that deep theology characterizes a good hymn, it's ultimately the marriage of an unforgettable melody and a strong lyric that makes it timeless to worshippers. Tomlin's success with songs isn't determined by how trendy the sound is or how smart the words are, but whether the melody grabs the ear and the lyrics stir the heart to praise.
That's his greatest strength, though to what extent is hard to say. All of this album's originals were created with at least one co-writer—and as many as four—but you can't argue with results. With the assistance of Matt Redman, Tomlin adapts the familiar text from Robert Lowry's classic "How Can I Keep from Singing?" and gives the title double meaning with as catchy and uplifting a tune you'll find in 6/8 time. And as with his previous standards "The Wonderful Cross" and "Take My Life," he successfully contemporizes the most beloved of all hymns by matching a piano-driven arrangement of "Amazing Grace" with a soaring new praise chorus "My Chains Are Gone."
If there's an equivalent on this album to his (currently) most popular song, "How Great Is Our God," it's probably "Glory in the Highest," a simple worship ballad with easy-to-learn verses and a single line of chorus that only gets stronger as the song builds to Coldplay proportions. Nearly as effective is "Uncreated One," a beautiful and quiet acoustic ballad that offers hymn-like stanzas and thoughtful lyrics evident from the title itself: "Worthy Uncreated One, from heaven to earth come down/You laid aside Your royalty to wear the sinner's crown."
Tomlin's gift of melody can also overcome weaker arrangements and lyricism. "Let God Arise," for example, would be fairly standard if it weren't for the strength of its steadily building chorus, making it one of the better driving rock worship songs of its kind. Similarly, "Awesome Is the Lord Most High" and "Glorious" (both previously featured on Passion's
Not all of the tracks are practical for corporate worship either. Though it's a good song, perfectly suited to Christian radio, you could argue that "Made to Worship" is more
Perhaps the album is a tad predictable in its pop-worship tendencies, and heaven forbid that worship artists start writing songs for radio play ahead of the church. But overall,