Christian Stephens – Their self-titled debut LP from 1980

June 23, 2015

This is a bit of an unusual posting for us, but it’s in response to several reader comments and emails.

christian-stephens-frontEach week we continue to get visits via search engines from those looking for the music of one of the early CCM groups, Christian Stephens.  In 2014 during Holy week, we posted several of the best songs from their eponymous debut album Christian Stephens from 1980, which I’d digitized from my vinyl LP.

Classic CCM songs for Holy Week from Christian Stephens: Look What You’ve Done, and Broken and Bleeding

Classic CCM for Good Friday: Christian Stephens – Song of the Cross

Classic CCM for Holy Saturday into Easter: Christian Stephens’ The Descent, and Arise

Those posts have brought readers here looking for more songs from the album, or more information about how to obtain the album.  The album is no longer in print and not available online anywhere as best as I can discover.

Since several readers have expressed interest in other songs from the album, I’m uploading all my songs from my LP.  Apologies that the quality is not always as good as I would wish.  There are several scratches / skips.

I pray this will be a blessing to those who have been wanting to hear this album again.  Hard for me to believe it’s 35 years old already!

***

Note: the songs posted are digitized versions of my original vinyl album.  There are some scratches, etc.  I believe the album is out of print, but if anyone knows of a CD or digital version available for purchase, I would love to know so I can link it here and ensure royalties go to the artist. 


CCM Classics for Easter – Michael Card: Love Crucified Arose (1982)

April 23, 2015

Michael Card’s classic “Love Crucified Arose” came up in my Easter playlist as I was getting ready for work this morning, and the lyrics so encouraged me.  The lyrics of the chorus especially remind us that Jesus’ resurrection was a PHYSICAL resurrection.

Love crucified arose
And the grave became a place of hope
For the heart that sin and sorrow broke
Is beating once again

A dead, lifeless body coming back to life, a heart that had stopped, now beating once again.  The resurrection is not just some nice abstract idea of new life or spiritual renewing, but the truth that Christ’s lifeless body was miraculously raised to life again.  In this is our hope.  NOTHING is impossible for the God who raised Jesus from the dead.  Be encouraged and REJOICE today!

Ask God what He wants to transform by His resurrection power in your life, and pray with confidence regarding His work of transformation, remembering that the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead is alive and at work in all of us who are in Christ.  (See Eph 1:17 – 21)

There are at least 3 different versions of Love Crucified Arose performed by Michael Card available for purchase:  The original version of the song from The Early Works or Signature Songs; Live Version (piano & cello) [as in the YouTube above] from Scribbling in the Sand; and, what may be by favorite version, from A Violent Grace (includes choral background vocals).

The resource page for this song at Song Select is here

Here are the lyrics:

Long ago, He blessed the earth
Born older than the years
And in the stall the cross He saw
Through the first of many tears

A life of homeless wandering
Cast out in sorrow’s way
The Shepherd seeking for the lost
His life, the price He paid

Love crucified arose
The risen One in splendor
Jehovah’s sole defender
Has won the victory

Love crucified arose
And the grave became a place of hope
For the heart that sin and sorrow broke
Is beating once again

Throughout Your life You’ve felt the weight
Of what You’d come to give
To drink for us that crimson cup
So we might really live

At last the time to love and die
The dark appointed day
That one forsaken moment when
Your Father turned His face away

Love crucified arose
The One who lived and died for me
Was Satan’s nail-pierced casualty
Now He’s breathing once again

Love crucified arose
And the grave became a place of hope
For the heart that sin and sorrow broke
Is beating once again

Love crucified arose
The risen One in splendor
Jehovah’s sole defender
Has won the victory


CCM Classics for Easter – Matthew Ward’s updated rendition of Easter Song (2011)

April 22, 2015

Ok, you can’t get too much more “classic” in terms of CCM than Easter Song, written by Annie Herring of the Second Chapter of Acts, released on their very first album With Footnotes in 1974.  It’s one of the defining songs of the genre by one of the pioneering groups of the genre.  For those of us who remember when this song and album came out, it seems impossible that the song is now more than 40 years old!

Vocalist extraordinaire Matthew Ward, along with his sisters Annie and Nellie comprised the Second Chapter of Acts, and although the group stopped performing more than 20 years ago, Matthew has continued to produce some solo albums.   In 2011 he recorded a new arrangement of Easter Song.  I only discovered it mid-Eastertide last year, and I’m so enjoying having his fresh update of an Easter classic in my playlist this entire Easter season. This song doesn’t get old…!

Here’s what Matthew wrote on his website as the reason for releasing a new version of this classic:

February 15th  2011 marked my 40th anniversary in music. I wanted to do something special for this momentous occasion, so I recorded a new rendition of “Easter Song” one of the most popular tunes my sister (Annie Herring) ever wrote, it’s available now …  He has risen!!!!

In my opinion no one has matched Matthew’s voice in the past 40 years of CCM!

Matthew’s updated version of Easter Song is available at iTunes and elsewhere.

Here’s Matthew performing Easter Song in the Colorado Mountains.  It’s EXCELLENT.  Crank up the volume and sing along loudly in joyous praise of our Risen Lord!


CCM Classics for Easter* – Gaither Vocal Band: Alpha and Omega (1984)

April 16, 2015

*(Ok, yes, this is really Southern Gospel, not CCM… but back in the 1980s and early 1990s, most Christian music was lumped together regardless of subgenre.  And besides, I don’t have enough Southern Gospel music in my Easter playlist to justify a separate category!)

One of the songs I’ve been giving a lot of play in my Easter playlist this year is by the Gaither Vocal Band:  Alpha and Omega.  Searching online, I found an awesome video of the 2003 performance in Sydney Australia by the Gaither Vocal Band of this classic song.  As best I have been able to determine, the song Alpha and Omega was written by Robbie Trice in 1972, and first recorded by the Gaither Vocal Band in 1984, appearing on their album New Point of View.

Although the song focuses on John’s vision of Christ as recorded in Revelation 21, the chorus “It is done…. it is done” makes this a great song for Easter – reminding us of Christ’s FINISHED perfect work.  The resurrection was the exclamation point declaring Christ’s Lordship and His victory over sin, death and hell.  Worship the risen Christ through the few minutes of enjoying this video!

You can buy an excellent recording of the song on the Best of the Gaither Vocal Band album.

Here are the lyrics:

I heard a great voice out of heaven saying
“Behold the tabernacle of God is with men
He shall dwell with them and they shall be His people
And Almighty God will be with them”

“He shall wipe away all tears from their eyes
There shall be no more death
Neither sorrow, nor crying, and no more pain
The former things are all passed away”

He that sat upon the throne said,
“Behold, I make all things new”
He said unto me, “Write these words
For they are faithful and true”

And it is done
It is done
It is done
It is done

He is the Alpha and Omega
The Beginning and the End
The Son of God, the King of Kings
Lord of lords, He’s Everything
Messiah, Jehovah
The Prince of Peace is He
The Son of Man, Seed of Abraham
Second Person in the Trinity 4x

He is the Alpha and Omega
The Son of God, the King of Kings
Messiah, Jehovah
The Great I Am seed of Abraham
He is the Alpha and Omega
The beginning and the end
Son of God, the King of Kings
The Lord of everything
He is Lord


CCM Classics for Easter – Steve Green: I Know that My Redeemer Liveth

April 14, 2015

New Young Messiah

I love Handel’s Messiah.  And I love classic CCM.  Put the two together and you get the wonderful New Young Messiah project released in 1993.  Thankfully it’s still in print – available for purchase at both Amazon & iTunes.  The artist list is just about a “best of” list of classic CCM performers:  Steven Curtis Chapman, Wayne Watson, Steve Green, Sandi Patty, Larnelle Harris, Twila Paris, BeBe & CeCe Winans, First Call, 4Him, Phil Keaggy….

One of the best tracks on the album is Steve Green’s rendition of I Know that My Redeemer Liveth, taken of course from Job’s famous declaration:

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
    and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
    and my eyes shall behold, and not another.

(Job 19:25-27, ESV)

Handel combines the truth from Job, with that from 1 Corinthians 15: 20-22

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

Here’s a YouTube of Steve Green’s fantastic performance of this song.  ENJOY! – and REJOICE!  This is not just a nice song.  These words are TRUE!:


CCM Classics for Easter – LAMB: Hallelujah (1981)

April 11, 2015

Lamb Live! (CD)

One of the best classic CCM groups was the Messianic Jewish group LAMB, the duo of Joel Chernoff and Rick (Levi) Coghill.  I had the pleasure of seeing them in concert once.  What joy and energy and celebration of the Messiah!

Perhaps the best of their albums is the 2 album set LAMB Live, (also available at iTunes) released in 1981.  One of the songs on that album is Hallelujah.  It is a favorite in my Classic CCM Easter playlist (especially after the long Lenten fast from singing Hallelujah).  Enjoy!

Lyrics:

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Let the heavens rejoice
All of ye mountain tops, all of ye hosts
Praise Him ye angels above

Now, let the sun and the moon rejoice
Praise Him all radiant stars
For it was He who created you
And established you forever and ever
And established you forever and ever

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
All of ye kings and ye people rejoice
Old men and young men, mothers and maidens
Lift us your hands and sing to the Lord
Sing Hallelu, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Let the heavens rejoice
For the Lord has redeemed His people
Sing and shout hallelujah

So let the harps and the lyres begin
Timbels and stringed instruments
Cymbals and trumpets let go your blasts
Everything with breath come praise the Lord
Everything with breath come praise the Lord

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
All of ye kings and ye people rejoice
Old men and young men, mothers and maidens
Lift us your hands and sing to the Lord
Sing Hallelu, Hallelujah


Music for Good Friday- John Michael Talbot- Prayer Before the Cross

April 3, 2015

One of my favorite worship songs – a musical prayer – just played in my Good Friday playlist.  I’m spending the evening listening to music focused on the Cross.  I thought I’d share this here since it’s from an older album that may not be so widely known or played these days.
Troubador

(John Michael Talbot,  from Troubadour of the Great King, 1981.  iTunes link)

We adore You, most holy Lord
Jesus Christ, Lord Jesus Christ
As we gather together in this place
And throughout all the world

We worship You, Lord
We adore you, Oh Lord
And we bless Your holy name
For by Your cross
You have redeemed us
You have redeemed all the world


Classic Worship Music for Maundy Thursday from Graham Kendrick

April 2, 2015

I have been following Graham Kendrick on Twitter since Lent began.  He’s uploaded a lot of his classic worship songs.  Here is a 26 song Easter playlist (it includes songs appropriate for Holy Week, not just Easter)

Here are several songs that are especially related to Maundy Thursday:

Meekness and Majesty

The Servant King

Peter at the Breaking of the Bread


Music for Lent: Wonderful Merciful Savior

March 6, 2015

The March 5th Lent entry from the Biola University Lent Project online devotional site included the excellent modern hymn Wonderful Merciful Savior:

Wonderful, Merciful Savior lyrics

Wonderful, merciful Savior,
Precious Redeemer and Friend,
Who would have thought that a Lamb
Could rescue the souls of men.
Oh you rescue the souls of men.

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper,
Spirit we long to embrace—
You offer hope when our hearts have
Hopelessly lost the way.
Oh, we’ve hopelessly lost the way.

You are the One that we praise.
You are the One we adore.
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for.
Oh, our hearts always hunger for.

Almighty, infinite Father
Faithfully loving Your own,
Here in our weakness You find us
Falling before Your throne.
Oh, we’re falling before Your throne.

The “about” section of the Biola devotional includes some interesting history of the song:

The tune Wonderful, Merciful Savior was penned in 1989 by Dawn Rodgers, and the lyrics were completed by Rodgers and Eric Wyse while leading worship at Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN. The song is still sung regularly at Christ Community Church, and has been recorded by a number of artists, including Selah, who brought it to #1 on the Christian Inspirational Music Chart in 2001.
http://www.wonderfulmercifulsavior.com/

The Biola Lent devotional includes Selah’s version of this song.  While it is Selah’s version which has perhaps received the most acclaim, I first heard this song as recorded by Steve Camp on his 1994 album Mercy in the Wilderness, and this remains my favorite version. (Unfortunately it’s not available for online purchase.) 1994 was a challenging period for me personally and spiritually, and when I first heard this song, it helped me throw myself on Christ and trust in His mercy in a way I’ve never forgotten.

You can listen to Steve Camp’s version of Wonderful Merciful Savior (with a prelude of “There is No Other Name”) here:

 


Music for Lent (Classic CCM): Keith Green – Rushing Wind

March 5, 2015

Keith Green’s wonderful prayer song “Rushing Wind” came up in my Lent playlist two nights ago.  I’ve been singing it in my head ever since.  It’s such a powerful prayer of sanctification and surrender.

Rushing wind blow through this temple,
Blowing out the dust within,
Come and breathe you breath upon me,
I’ve been born again.

Holy spirit, I surrender, take me where you want to go,
Plant me by your living water,
Plant me deep so I can grow.

Jesus, you’re the one, who sets my spirit free,
Use me lord, glorify, your holy name through me.

Separate me from this world lord.
Sanctify my life for you.
Daily change me to your image,
Help me bear good fruit.

Every day you’re drawing closer.
Trials come to test my faith.
But when all is said and done lord,
You know, it was worth the wait.

Jesus, you’re the one, who set my spirit free,
Use me lord, glorify, your holy name through me.

Rushing wind blow through this temple,
Blowing out the dust within,
Come and breathe you breath upon me,
For I’ve been born again.
Songwriters: Green, Keith Gordon / Green, Melody
Rushing Wind lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC


An Advent Devotional – Waiting for Christ, Witnessing, Working…

December 10, 2014

I love the Rev. Glen Scrivener’s blog, The King’s English, but because he blogs through the Scriptures consecutively, his posts are not always tied to the liturgical season.  Yesterday’s entry “A Labour of Love,” however, was specifically tied to Advent.  It’s based on Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 1 where he talks about waiting for Christ’s return, and the believers labour of love which flows out of their hope in Christ:

But how do we wait?  Like the picture above?  Scanning the sky for signs of His coming?  Scouring the newspapers for clues to His advent?

We’re called to be on the welcoming committee, but many want to be in the planning group.  It’s something Jesus refuses to bring us in on.  Just before He ascended His followers wanted to get an eschatological timetable from Him:

“When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?  And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:  and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”  (Acts 1:6-8)

They wanted to know times and seasons.  Jesus says ‘That’s not your job!  Your job is to be witnesses to the ends of the earth.’

We do not wait by worrying about when.  We wait by witnessing. (emphasis added)

It’s interesting how Acts 1 continues.  Jesus ascends to heaven, the disciples are – understandably, you’d think – gazing into the heavens.  But angels appear to tell them to stop gawping at the skies (Acts 1:10-11).  The posture of the church, as we wait for Christ, is not stationary, faces heavenwards.  Instead our posture is shaped by Acts 1:8 – we’ve been given our marching orders and out we go – to the ends of the earth as witnesses of Christ.

And so in the same chapter that tells us of the Thessalonians “waiting for God’s Son from heaven” Paul also gives us this description of their current life:

“[We remember] without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (1 Thessalonians 1:3)

Here again is Paul’s famous trio:  faith, hope and love.  Our faith looks back to Christ’s first coming and it inspires work.  Our hope looks forward to Christ’s second coming and brings patience.  And love is the atmosphere of our present lives – confident of the salvation Christ has won, and expectant of the cosmic redemption He will bring.  Now we are free from having to build our own identity or secure our own future.  Now we can love.  And this love will be a busy, active thing.  It is a “labour of love.”

We’re not working towards our vindication, our joy, our purpose in life. We’re working from that sure gift from Christ.  Therefore Christian work is a “labour of love.”

Are your Christian efforts “a labour of love”?  If they’re feeling more of a “millstone around your neck“, then these aren’t the kind of labours that will honour Jesus.  Let me suggest that you may have forgotten the other two elements of the trio.  Remember, we have a sure faith, grounded in Christ’s first coming.  And we have a certain hope, expectant of His second coming.  If you want to rekindle the love: look again to Christ this Advent – His faultless work for you and your expectant wait for Him.  A fresh vision of Jesus turns labour into “a labour of love.”

I strongly recommend reading the full entry.

***

As an “Advent extra,” when I read the title of Glenn’s post “Labour of Love,” I couldn’t help but think of a wonderful Andrew Peterson duet with Jill Phillips of the same title, from his amazing album Behold the Lamb of God – one of the best CCM albums ever.    Here’s a video version of the song below, enjoy!


CCM Classics for Easter: Keith Green, The Victor

April 26, 2014

Today’s song is perhaps my absolute favorite in my entire Easter playlist…, it may be the reason I even have an Easter playlist…!  Keith Green’s The Victor, and the Second Chapter of Acts’ Easter Song convinced me that contemporary songs have just as much a place in celebrating Easter as the classic hymns we sing in church!

I had the joy and privilege of attending a concert by Keith Green in 1977, just shortly after his first album, For Him Who Has Ears was released.  I’ve been a diehard fan of contemporary Christian music ever since…  Keith’s album For Him Who Has Ears was the second Christian album I ever purchased.

Keith’s never been equalled.  His passion, his absolutely astounding piano playing… what a gift his music was and is to the Body of Christ.  One of his best songs is The Victor, from his second album, No Compromise, released in 1978

Here’s a video of Keith performing the song live in Colorado in 1978:

I’ve posted the lyrics to the song below, following a short excerpt from St. John Chrysostom’s famous Easter sermon, which matches the passion, triumph and excitement of Keith’s song… albeit written many centuries earlier!

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

***

The lyrics to Keith Green’s The Victor:
descentamongthedead

Swallowed into earth’s dark womb
Death has triumphed, That’s what they say
But try to hold Him in the tomb
The Son of Life rose on the third day

Just look
The gates of hell
They’re falling!
Crumbling from the inside out
He’s bursting through
The walls with laughter (Hah!)
Listen to the angels shout

It is finished
He has done it
Life conquered death
Jesus Christ
Has won it!

His plan of battle
You know it fooled them all
They led Him off to prison to die
But as He entered Hades hall
He broke those hellish chains with a cry

Just listen to those demons screaming
See Him bruise the serpent’s head
The prisoners of Hell
He’s redeeming (Oh!)
All the power of death is dead

Art Credit: Christ’s Descent among the Dead


CCM Classics for Easter – Dallas Holm “Rise Again” (1977)

April 25, 2014

Coming back to our CCM Classics for Easter series….

This afternoon, I’m featuring Dallas Holm’s Rise Again, from 1977.   Originally released on the  Dallas Holm and Praise Live album, this song won multiple Dove Awards in 1977:  Song of the year, Songwriter of the year, Male Vocalist of the year, and Group of the year.  Pretty good for a song Dallas Holm recalls that he wrote in ten minutes!

The original live version of the song from 1977 is available for purchase online from the Dallas Holm Early Works collection, or you can purchase it direct from Dallas Holm’s website.

Here are the lyrics

Go ahead, drive the nails in My hands
Laugh at me where you stand
Go ahead, and say it isn’t Me
The day will come when you will see

‘Cause I’ll rise again
Ain’t no power on earth can tie me down!
Yes, I’ll rise again
Death can’t keep Me in the ground

Go ahead, mock My name
My love for you is still the same
Go ahead, and bury Me
But very soon, I will be free!

‘Cause I’ll rise again
Ain’t no power on earth can tie me down!
Yes, I’ll rise again
Death can’t keep Me in the ground

Go ahead and say I’m dead and gone
But you will see that you were wrong
Go ahead, try to hide the Son
But all will see that I’m the One!

‘Cause I’ll come again!
Ain’t no power on earth can keep Me back!
Yes, I’ll come again
Come to take My people back

 


CCM Classics for Easter: Four songs from DeGarmo & Key – Mary, Rejoice, He Has Risen, Let the Whole World Sing

April 22, 2014

The Christian rock group DeGarmo and Key have a number of wonderful Easter-themed songs.  Here are four that are in my CCM Classics for Easter playlist:

1) Their song Mary from their 1979 album Straight On.

2) Their song Rejoice from their 1984 album Communication

3) Their song He Has Risen, from the same album.

4) 1983’s Let the Whole World Sing. from their album Mission of Mercy. (The song can also be found on the DeGarmo & Key Collection album)

Enjoy these four great songs rejoicing in our Lord’s resurrection!!

***

Tomorrow I’ll take a break from CCM Classics and post some great Easter hymns…., so don’t despair Anglican friends, there’s some more traditional music that will be featured here as well.


CCM Classics for Easter: The Imperials – Because He Lives

April 22, 2014

Another CCM Classic… another Easter Favorite!  (Use this link to catch up on all our  CCM Classics for Easter.)

***

This morning’s CCM Classic is one of the truly MOST classic of all in my entire collection… The Imperials singing Because He Lives.  The Imperials were pioneers in contemporary worship.  It’s hard for me to believe this song is 40 years old this year, dating from 1974.  (The song was written by Bill Gaither, and it was recorded by the Bill Gaither Trio in 1974, winning the Dove Award for Song of the Year. The Imperials recorded it a few years later.)

I purchased the song back in 2007 from the Imperials album Legacy.  Unfortunately that album no longer seems to be available online, and no version of the Imperials singing this song appears on iTunes any longer.  How sad! (There are versions by other artists, including the Gaither Trio).  So… Enjoy the You Tube audio below….

1. God sent His Son – they called Him Jesus,
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

Chorus:
Because He lives I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

2. How sweet to hold a newborn baby
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because Christ lives.

(Chorus)

3. And then one day I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to victory,
I’ll see the lights of glory – and I’ll know He lives.

(Chorus)

***

You can watch a video of the Gaithers talking about the background to the song, and a performance by the Bill Gaither Trio here

***

And lest this 40 year old song seem a bit dated…. it’s being introduced to a new generation!

David Crowder sang it at the 2012 Passion Conference!

But sorry David, I still love the Imperials version with Armond Morales and his incredible bass voice!


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