On August 19, I reviewed “Jeremiah,” the new album by Rachel Wilhelm. A quote from same:
Worship leader Rachel Wilhelm’s new album “Jeremiah” uses the prophet of doom as source material for a rich exploration of modern liturgical music embracing both contemporary stylings and the rich heritage formed by the great hymn writers. It is music equally at home being listened to or sung in church.
“Jeremiah” finds Wilhelm adding potent Americana strains into her folk and contemplative traditional-oriented worship music musical palette. As I’ve noted before, Wilhelm’s artistry has much in common with the quieter, more melodic side of classic progressive rock as embodied by bands such as Camel and Renaissance. On “Jeremiah,” she uses instrumentation such as banjo not in a kitschy fashion but rather to drive home a song’s point.
What separates “Jeremiah” from its contemporaries is its providing intelligent comfort. Wilhelm is a skilled tunesmith, weaving deceptively simple melodies designed to complement the words. This is a far more difficult task than usually imagined. Wilhelm avoids overwrought theatrics in favor of sturdy compositions appealing to heart and mind, not working known cliches to evoke an emotional response. In this, she reaches far deeper into the listener than an artist striving for surface reaction. Wilhelm’s music speaks to the soul with authentic creativity, not in a cheap, manipulative manner. Her greatest gift is enabling the listener to escape a standard musical experience and instead do what the great hymn writers over the centuries have worked toward: music and words combining to bring one into worship’s true heart.
“Jeremiah” is not bubblegum background music for those seeking a surface rush rather than profound enlightenment. It is a superbly crafted work of art. “Jeremiah” pulls off the challenging feat of being musically accomplished and staying true to its vision of inviting the listener into thoughtful worship. In a world of autotuned monotony and disposable plastic formula pseudo-music chasing chart success, Rachel Wilhelm stands out as a true artist, sharing her immense gift with us. She deserves all the support that one can muster.
The latest Cephas Hour episode focuses on Wilhelm’s artistry and ministry over recent years. Other artists in this episode are 2nd Chapter of Acts and Oden Fong. The show is available on demand at its website. It is also available via the following podcast services:
As always, I urge you to, if the music moves, please go to the artist’s websites and buy a download or CD to support their ministry. Thanks.
I try to separate the political from the spiritual, keeping the podcast focused on Jesus. The Prince of Peace should always trump politics in our lives, and the guiding principles of our shared faith should shape our political beliefs, not the other way around.
It has long interested me how equally devout believers can, while seeing matters through what Terry Scott Taylor so brilliantly called the tired eyes of faith, come to utterly opposite thoughts regarding issues within the body politic. The conclusions thus reached can’t both be right. However, they both could be wrong.
God sees things differently than we do. As He said through the prophet Isaiah:
Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
A sobering, albeit necessary, reminder.
We who believe must exercise maximum caution in assigning God’s will and ways to our political persuasions. Instead, we should strive to reverse this practice by taking our political persuasions before His Word, letting it as best we can in our imperfect knowledge and stubborn humanity to be our guide. Sophomoric overgeneralization has no basis in Scripture.
We should also work toward not becoming too excited, pro or con, about any politician. They, too, are like us — sinners needing God’s grace. Some know this. Others, not so much. In either case, the truth remains. Without compromise or weakness, we should always extend the open hand. When need be, we should follow the model of the archangel Michael as mentioned in the Book of Jude:
But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
It is the easy way to snark and snipe. But there are better ways.
Have you ever encountered a scenario requiring stepping over an obstacle? You carefully judge how high you’ll need to step over the item. You cautiously take the first step, clearing whatever is in your way. It might be by the barest of margins, but you do clear it. Great!
And then, you forget to sufficiently lift your back foot and hit the object. Various consequences ensue, none of which are pleasant.
There’s a lesson in this. The first step, specifically watching your first step, is faith. Watching your second step is action.
We must always remember we need to see things through to completion.
Tying back to something I mentioned at the beginning of this podcast, it’s very important to remember when we start getting freaked out over political matters—who’s really in charge? From Psalm 94:
The Lord is a God who avenges.
O God who avenges, shine forth.
Rise up, Judge of the earth;
pay back to the proud what they deserve.
How long, Lord, will the wicked,
how long will the wicked be jubilant?
They pour out arrogant words;
all the evildoers are full of boasting.
They crush your people, Lord;
they oppress your inheritance.
They slay the widow and the foreigner;
they murder the fatherless.
They say, “The Lord does not see;
the God of Jacob takes no notice.”
Take notice, you senseless ones among the people;
you fools, when will you become wise?
Does he who fashioned the ear not hear?
Does he who formed the eye not see?
Does he who disciplines nations not punish?
Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge?
The Lord knows all human plans;
he knows that they are futile.
Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord,
the one you teach from your law;
you grant them relief from days of trouble,
till a pit is dug for the wicked.
For the Lord will not reject his people;
he will never forsake his inheritance.
Judgment will again be founded on righteousness,
and all the upright in heart will follow it.
Who will rise up for me against the wicked?
Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?
Unless the Lord had given me help,
I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.
Can a corrupt throne be allied with you—
a throne that brings on misery by its decrees?
The wicked band together against the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
But the Lord has become my fortress,
and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.
He will repay them for their sins
and destroy them for their wickedness;
the Lord our God will destroy them.