Christ For The Nations Institute – “Uncreated One” (Review)
News Source: Christian Music Zine
Date: December 17th, 2012
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
Christ for the Nations Institute is probably the most well known worship movement right now- with the 38th album releasing this year called Uncreated One- the first on Integrity Music. To tell you all the truth I have not had the pleasure of listening much to their songs; in fact this album is the first I am listening to, ever. As a result, it took me a while to get into the music. With other artists releasing live worship albums such as Passion, Vertical Worship Church Band, Israel Houghton, Bethel Live and Jesus Culture; for me this album slipped under the radar. Given that December usually is a ‘dead’ month where virtually nothing gets released, I took this opportunity to work on my back reviews, and listen to some of the albums I may have missed. And what’s the verdict of these veterans? Do they live up to the standards placed upon them or the expectations of being around for nearly 40 recordings? Read on and find out!
There are a few covers in this 10 track album, and each is sung and delivered with great poise and a worthy representation. Though I do enjoy the originals of “Deep Cries Out” (originally recorded by William Matthews), “Great I Am” (Jared Anderson), and “God I Look To You” (originally recorded by Bethel’s Jenn Johnson) a whole lot more, what each of these competent covers excel in, is giving the songs a good name as they stay pretty close to the original. The upbeat “Deep Cries Out” contains a slew of electric guitars and a frenzied start as I can’t help but sing and dance as the band sings out to Jesus and proclaims Him as King. Singing about delving more into the love of god and stirring up the Holy Spirit within us; this modern worship anthem kicks off the album in style. Jared Anderson’s “Great I Am” has previously been covered by Julissa and Phillips, Craig & Dean; and this rendition is great too- I can feel the Holy Spirit immensely as I join in and sing ‘…hallelujah, holy, holy, God Almighty, the Great I Am, who is worthy, none beside thee, God Almighty, the Great I Am…’. Driven by the electric guitar; and in a slow tempo so that this worship ballad can be mulled upon and given an epic crescendo in the 7 minutes; this song is destined to go worldwide and reach plenty of people in the near future. Maybe worship song of the year at the 2013 Doves? And “God I Look To You” is very well known in the Bethel Live church in Redding California; and this song, which was previously on the Be Lifted High album, is one of my favourites on the album. Sung heaps of times at the church I go to every week, “God I Look To You” is God-anointed, as the words declare that God is holy and that ‘…I will love You Lord my strength, I will love You Lord my shield, I will love You Lord my rock, forever all my days, I will love You God…’, and these are very poignant and true. What better words and more captivating words can you ever declare than ‘…hallelujah, our God reigns…’? A stellar rendition of one of my favourite worship songs currently!
The remaining 7 songs are the originals. “Nowhere Better” has a rock guitar anthem feel, and is very upbeat, and the electro dance synth added gives it a rich depth too, as well as the subject matter of proclaiming that God is here and that “…there’s nowhere better than Your presence God, there’s no place I’d rather be…”. Vocally, Alex Bennefield is top notch, with similar vocals to Dawn Michelle of Fireflight, and is sure to be one of the rising worship leaders in the near future. Her performance on “You Are Exalted” is great as well, a CCM worship ballad with strong guitar and keys, as Alex declares that God is exalted and that He is lifted high above any other. Alex also has her own EP that released this year, and these two tracks have prompted me to check out her solo work. Even though “You Are Exalted” is quite short, these upbeat frenzied tracks give the perfect backdrop as the slower worship ballads and anthems are seamlessly transitioned in.
The piano led slower tempo “Let Us Remember” and the vibrant bubbly “Falling Back In Love Again” are led by Chris Martin. The slower track speaks about remembering the Cross and what Jesus has done for us, also remembering the depths of God’s love and how unconditional it is. The faster track reminds us that falling in love again with Jesus is the best feeling in the world- ‘…I have found a greater satisfaction here with You, You’re wonderful, no one can see my heart the way You do, looking back I know that You’re the One that brought me through…’. Chris is another rising worship leader, and that’s one thing that Christ For The Nations Institutehave been great at doing- raising up future worship leaders, as worshippers like Kari Jobe, Jennie Lee Riddle and Nicole C Mullen have all sung with this movement. Hopefully the movement sticks around long enough for more hits songs to be sung in churches everywhere, and more worship leaders are raised up, and maybe a few of them can have stellar careers.
Gabriel Allred, the worship director of Christ For The Nations, chimes in with two tracks as well (“Deeper Places/Lord I Want To Know You More” and “Show Me Your Ways”). Each are solid worship anthems that are beautifully sung and delivered, with each giving God the praise and adoration as Gabriel cries out to God, giving Him his all, and creating a sacred space where the audience and the listener can just close their eyes and soak in the presence of God. The spontaneous worship moments in “Show Me Your Ways” speaks volumes, and is very magical as well. It’s also very special and emotional to hear a passionate crowd belt out God’s praises- that never gets old! The last track, led by Jonathan Lewis, is the title track “Uncreated One”, and expresses the heart of Uncreated One… the worship and unbridled adoration and devotion of a Sovereign God, and the fact that we can live our lives pleasing to God. It is also boggling to know that God is all powerful. Worship is a lifestyle, and this live album from Integrity Music has reminded me many times on this 66 minute journey!
As far as live albums go, there are definitely more publicised and better produced albums such as Passion’s White Flag, Jesus Culture’s Live From New York or Desperation Band’sCenter Of It All, yet there’s no mistaking the heart of the worship leaders of Christ For The Nations. No doubt the movement will keep on continuing, and if they produce albums like this, then good on them. It’s just that it took a while for me to get into the groove of the album, and sometimes longer songs seem to be distracting. However it’s a nice album that gets very emotional and overwhelming during the slower songs and upbeat and lively in the faster songs. It ticks all the boxes of a live worship album, and it is great to listen to. Maybe because I don’t know the artists that much, is the reason I may be inclined to rate them a bit lower. But nevertheless, you should pick this up and give the album a spin. Plenty of songs readymade for the Sunday service, and many songs will probably be timeless, and we may be singing them 50 years from now. Whatever the case, Christ For The Nations is not going away anytime soon, and when I check out their discography, I am sure I will appreciate their music more. Well done Integrity for signing a well-established movement, and here’s to many more up and coming artists being discovered by Christ For The Nations!
Track Listing (+ songwriters):
- Deep Cries Out (Christiann Koepke, William Matthews)
- Nowhere Better (Jonathan Lewis, Cindy Johnson, Gabriel Allred)
- Great I Am (Jared Anderson)
- Deeper Places / Lord I Want to Know You More (Gabriel Allred)
- Let Us Remember (Chris Martin)
- God I Look To You (Ian Mcintosh, Jenn Johnson)
- You Are Exalted (Jeff Sparkman)
- Show Me Your Ways (Gabriel Allred, Chris Martin, Andrew Ponson)
- Uncreated One (Andrew Meek, Chris Martin, Jonathan Lewis)
- Falling Back In Love Again (Chris Martin, Andrew Ponson, Jonathan Lewis)