24 October 2023

Latest ISS album shows the power of song

Andrew Wicker

A graphic shows the cover of Lord, You Are the Song against a wooden background.

Andrew Wicker (Swindon Citadel) reviews ISS album Lord, You Are the Song.

Described as a ‘high-concept project’, this new recording by the International Staff Songsters seeks to show how the power of song conveys the truths of the Christian experience. Taking the three verses of the album’s pleasant title track as inspiration, the album is divided into three sections, with helpful Bible references framing the tracks.

The first section journeys through the coming of Jesus to his sacrifice and resurrection, allowing us to hear a number of Advent and Easter songs – including the beautiful ‘Lully, Lulla, Lullay’, arranged by Philip Stopford, with its ringing descant, before a new setting by Kenneth Downie of ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ and the Hillsong track ‘My Redeemer Lives’, arranged by Simon Gash.

The second group is prefaced with Romans 8:39 – nothing can ‘separate us from the love of God’ – and presents songs reminding us of the impact of God’s love for us, including the reassuring ‘We Are Not Alone’ by Pepper Choplin and Dorothy Gates’ arrangement of ‘Be Still’.

The final section reminds listeners to share this love through ‘Trust and Obey’, arranged by Andrew Mackereth, and ‘Serve by Love’, by Janet Robson and Richard Phillips. Fun is had in ‘Swingtime Religion’, a vocal transcription of Barrie Gott’s brass number, featuring International Staff Songster Elliott Chappell on saxophone.

As with previous ISS albums, songs feature from the vast archive of Salvation Army vocal music, including Joy Webb’s ‘Come into Our World!’ – perhaps even more relevant now, 45 years on from its publication – and Ray Steadman-Allen’s ‘Gone My Care!’. ‘A Light in Heaven’s Window’ is also included in tribute to General John Larsson.

Overall, with many of the tracks being devotional in nature, the central message that God is the song at the heart of our lives is easy to reflect upon while listening. ‘He … will rejoice over you with singing’ (Zephaniah 3:17).

Written by

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Andrew Wicker

Swindon Citadel

Buy the album

Lord, You Are the Song is available now from SP&S.

Lord, You Are the Song

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