With this new online format, I can now write a quick column when something significant happens that simply cannot wait. The David Crowder Band, one of the few worship bands that I have consistently given positive reviews to, because of their non-formulaic way of presenting songs that are directed upwards toward God, has written a Requiem Mass for their last album release, entitled “Give Us Rest or (a requiem mass in c[the happiest of all keys])“. Yes, you heard right! What is even more amazing is that the album debuted at no. 2 on the secular Billboard Charts (right behind Adele’s 21), making this, by far, the highest debut ever by a Christian artist. Aided by Catholic artist, Matt Maher, this is a concept album based around the Catholic Mass which is offered up for the dead, concepts which are distinctly non-Protestant. Contrary to some rumors, David Crowder Band’s last album is not due to its namesake converting to Catholicism, but it is definitely a singularly unique and ecumenical landmark in contemporary Christian music history.
Through over 100 minutes, the band maintains our interest by weaving in and out with diversity; rock, folk, bluegrass, orchestral pieces and even chant are blended together. There are electronic sounds and rhythmic loops blended in to create incredibly complex and wonderful arrangements. Throughout, the glue that holds the project together is the structure of the Requiem Mass. There are even Latin and Greek lyrics thrown in at various spots. One has the Introit, Lux Atream, Kyrie Eleison, Offertory, Sanctus, Great Amen and Agnus Dei as part of the album. There is a Communion song and, true to a funeral liturgy, there is no Gloria or Alleluia. This is so richly imbued with liturgy that most Catholics would benefit some research into the Mass Requiem to get the most out of this album.
It almost seems wrong to pick out songs to highlight in this type of a project as every part is an important part of the whole. However, one could easily pick out songs like “Come Find Me” , “God Have Mercy”, “Let Me Feel You Shine”, “After All (Holy)” and “There is a Sound” that are heads and shoulders over what one normally hears on Christian radio these days. All these are worship songs but draw from the Catholic roots which feed into the lyrics, giving the album extra depth.
Those of you who are worried that this eclectic and wonderful modern masterpiece will end up in a Mass at your local church need not worry. This album does not serve that purpose. At the end of the day, it is a worship album based on and inspired by the Catholic Requiem Mass. As I have mentioned many times over the years, there is much that Catholics can learn from our Protestant brethren regarding the art of music, but Protestants are increasingly reaching into the Catholic church, aided by artists such as John Michael Talbot and Mat Maher, to add richness and depth into a worship genre that is beset by repetitiveness, trite lyrics and simplicity. This double album marks a fitting end to one of the most original Christian bands of the past decade. I strongly recommend that every lover of music, whether Catholic, Protestant or secular, pick up this album as it is one of the best I have heard. This could be the Christian recording of the past decade!