Thursday, June 27, 2013

Music Review: How Great is Our God - The Essential Collection by Chris Tomlin

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Many excellent songs of worship
Cons: A few are sub-par
The Bottom Line:
Great modern worship
With many future classics
All here on one disc

So Many Wonderful Worship Songs on One Disc

While I have a few worship oriented discs in my collection, they don’t tend to make it to my CD player that often.  That’s even true of powerhouse artist Chris Tomlin, and I absolutely love some of his songs that we sing in church every week.  So when I saw he was releasing How Great Is Our God: The Essential Collection, I figured this was a chance to get all the songs I love in one place.

Most best of collections like this feature a new song or two.  That’s not the case here, although several songs have been rerecorded.  I’m not familiar enough with Chris’ music to know for sure which tracks those are, although I can make a couple of guesses.

One of those is the World Edition of “How Great is Our God.”  While Chris starts it off and sings some lines here and there, he turns the majority of the track over to worship leaders from around the world who sing a line or two in their native language.  It’s different and takes a few listens to appreciate, but I do like it as it shows just how universal the body of Christ is.  And the African chanting during the chorus is a great touch.

But don’t despair if you are looking for this song.  Chris also closes the disc out with the song, and this time it’s all in English.  I believe this is a new recording as well and builds from piano to full on drums and guitar.  This anthem is a current favorite of mine, and I love it.

Another new recording is “Forever.”  A choir joins Chris on this chorus taken from the Psalms.  The new drum pattern is lots of fun and makes a great song even more powerful.

Two of Chris’ updating of hymns are present here.  First up is “The Wonderful Cross” with features fellow worship leader Matt Redman.  The verses here are the familiar hymn, but there is a new chorus that makes it feel modern.  Of course, the drums and guitar help with that, too.  Chris does the same thing with “Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone),” and if possible I love this hymn even more with the new chorus.  The song is mostly piano, but it somehow makes the lyrics even more powerful.

Speaking of powerful, there’s one of his newer songs, “Our God.”  This anthem is based on the idea from Romans that “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  It starts off with strings before more traditional piano and guitar come in and the tempo increases.  It’s a great song.

It’s funny some of the songs I didn’t know I know until I got this disc.  Songs like “Holy is the Lord” and “Made to Worship” are songs that I’ve heard without even knowing who had made them popular.  And speaking of popular, this disc does have his classic take on “Indescribable” and “We Fall Down.”

I’m sure someone better versed in Chris’ music will have complaints about some songs that were included or excluded.  All I know is that most of the songs here I like.

Yes, I did say most.  There are a couple of songs that are weak.  “Famous One” has never struck me as a great song.  It just seems disrespectful to call God “the famous one.”  Maybe it’s how cheap we’ve made fame in our society, but He is so much more than that.  “God of This City” also doesn’t sit quite right with me since I feels like telling God what to do.  I’m probably missing something in those songs since the rest of this disc has a proper reverence for God, but those are the tracks I skip over.

The rest of the disc is great, however.  So if, like me, you want Chris Tomlin’s best songs in one place, How Great Is Our God: The Essential Collection is the disc to get.

CD Length: 1:13:24
1. How Great is Our God (World Edition)
2. Our God
3. Forever
4. The Wonderful Cross (with Matt Redman)
5. Famous One
6. We Fall Down
7. Indescribable
8. Holy is the Lord
9. Enough
10. Made to Worship
11. Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)
12. Jesus Messiah
13. God of This City (Live from Passion)
14. I Will Rise
15. How Great is Our God

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