Sounds like … very much like Winds of Worship 12 – Live from London and Hungry, on which Brian played – sophisticated contemporary worship with a little bit of Celtic thrown inAt a Glance … You Shine is a terrific worship album that thoughtfully combines traditional and contemporary worship elements into a beautiful praise offering to the Lord.
Odds are you're already familiar with the vocals and songwriting of worship leader Brian Doerksen (pronounced "durk-son"): "Refiner's Fire," "Light the Fire Again," and "Come Now Is the Time to Worship" to name a few. In the late '90s, the British Columbia native served as a key leader at Vineyard UK and was one of the driving forces behind Winds of Worship 12 – Live From London and Hungry. If you liked those two landmark worship albums, you won't want to miss this 65-minute live recording from Dublin, Ireland. Those who aren't acquainted with the albums mentioned above also will appreciate Brian's contemporary worship songwriting, which is on par with Matt Redman and Darlene Zschech.
You Shine bears a strong resemblance to Vineyard music's finest Winds of Worship projects, with more of a Celtic European pop influence. The album begins in a traditional manner with a boy soprano singing an Introit, in this case the chorus of the title track, which follows. "You Shine," inspired by Isaiah 51:12-13, includes the moving lyrics: "Why should I fear man when you made the heavens? / Why should I be afraid when you put the stars in place? / Why should I lose heart when I know how great you are? / Why should I give up when your plans are full of love?" Both this song and "Hope of the Nations" are enjoyable pop/rock anthems with catchy melodies. "I Am Convinced," written by Brian and Vineyard UK worship leader Brenton Brown ("Lord Reign in Me"), nicely combines strong rock verses with a melodic pop chorus and a Celtic-styled bridge. Even more impressive is the way the two writers blend together two scripture verses, Romans 8:38-39 and Ephesians 3:17-19. A lesser songwriter would have stopped with a single scriptural reference adapted to music. Brenton and Brian effectively use both verses to hammer home the message of God's love and the security we can find in his arms.
Another effective Brian and Brenton collaboration is the popular "Hallelujah (Your Love Is Amazing)," which sounds fresh and joyous in this rousing Celtic-flavored rendition that's not unlike the music of Ceili Rain. "Faithful One," one of Brian's first recorded songs, also is given new life in a terrific duet with Kathryn Scott, the UK worship leader known for "Hungry" and her rendition of "Breathe." The simple worship song builds effectively from a gentle acoustic guitar to a powerful rock ballad sound, with a knockout performance by Kathryn that only confirms that she also should release a solo album. Brian's classic "I Lift My Eyes Up (Psalm 121)" is given a rhythmic treatment similar to "Better Is One Day."
There are so many highlights on You Shine, but I'm sure most will appreciate the beautiful balladry. The atmospheric "You Surround Me" has a melody as beautiful as "Draw Me Close," and it features Irish worship leader Kim McKevitt whispering Gaelic lyrics that echo Brian's singing, resulting in an intimate and prayerful sound. Brian's hymn-like "With All My Affection" is a simple acoustic worship chorus that's as meditative and memorable as "Take My Life (Holiness)" and "Refiner's Fire." Then there's the quiet "Your Faithfulness," which Brian wrote in response to his two children's medical disabilities. The honest lyrical expression of faith is impressive: "I don't know what this day will bring / Will it be disappointing or filled with longed for things? / I don't know what tomorrow holds / Still I know I can trust your faithfulness."
I appreciate that Brian is practical in his experimentation with worship songwriting. For example, the astute worship leader rightly notes that it's considerably easier to write a song of praise for a congregation to sing than a song of lament. Nevertheless, Brian successfully tackles the latter with "Psalm 13 (How Long)." Songs of lament certainly aren't new to worship, but they aren't common, and I'm impressed someone took the challenge, recognizing that worship need not always be joyful. Horatio Spafford, author of "It Is Well" knew this all too well when he wrote that beloved hymn in response to the death of his four daughters in a tragic shipwreck. Brian covers that hymn on this album in a folk-country-tinged arrangement that features harmony by his father Harry, who was one of The Ambassador Singers. There's also ingenuity in the way Brian closes the album with an acoustic rendition of his popular "Come Now Is the Time to Worship." I've thought about closing my own worship services with this song before, but never had the guts. Brian backs up the idea by noting that worship goes beyond the sanctuary doors; it's an invitation to take what we may have learned during church to the world outside. Can I get an "amen" to that?
There's a definite theme on You Shine of seeking peace and refuge in the Lord in times of uncertainty. Don't get the wrong idea. This album is anything but a downer and often is a joyful listen, but it's also rather contemplative at times. I think it's a terrific response to the 9/11 tragedy and a source of strength to anyone wrestling with personal trials. Backed by a talented and expressive band, Brian Doerksen has a gift for instantly catchy lyrics that never seemed clichéd or repetitive. This is a well thought out worship album that has more to say than simply "Lord, I worship you," even when Brian uses those very words on "With All My Affection." You Shine is the perfect blend of traditional and contemporary worship elements, warranting the attention of anyone who has an affection for music that directly glorifies God.