Favorite Things Friday: Preach it, Sandra!

I’ve finally been inspired, and I can think of favorite things for several Fridays, so check back over the next few weeks for new stuff.

About a week ago, a good friend and I decided to go on an adventure.  This adventure involved an entire greasy pizza, a haircut, and about an hour in the car.  One of our favorite things to do in the car is listen to music and have sing-alongs. It doesn’t matter if there are other people in the car, it doesn’t matter if we don’t know you very well, it doesn’t really even matter if we know all the words or not.  If we are in a car, we will be singing (and possibly using water bottles as instruments).  All of that background info to say– yesterday, we had the privilege of listening to an entire album from start to finish.

Can I dare to say that the album is becoming a lost art? You don’t have to buy whole albums anymore– you can just pick and choose the 4 or 5 songs you like best and never even listen to the rest of them.  Obviously, I have nothing against technology, mp3 players, or iTunes, but every now and then, it’s nice to find an album that is meant to be an album.  One you can’t just pick and choose 4 songs from, one you don’t even want to put on shuffle because it’s been so nicely arranged, because it has those little transition tracks that take you from one song to the next, because musical themes are repeated and echoed throughout the album and you might miss it if you listen out of order.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Sandra McCracken’s second collection of what she calls “New Old Hymns”: In Feast or Fallow. It’s wonderful.  Lyrically striking, musically interesting and cohesive, artistically beautiful.  It’s a work of art from start to finish.  The intentionality with which Sandra wrote and arranged the songs is evident from the first lyrics of Petition (a rewrite of a hymn written by Anne Steele) to the final notes of “Faith’s Review and Expectation” (Sandra’s version of “Amazing Grace”).  Perhaps equally as exciting to me as finding an album like this was finding the website associated with the album–Sandra has written about every song on the album, letting us in on her creative process and the album’s organization.

Perhaps my favorite part of the album is the combination of two songs on the album.  “Hidden Place” and the song “Eighty-Eight” flow into one another in such a way that, on my first listening (there have been at least ten more since), I thought it was one long song.  Hidden Place is a song of gratitude to the Lord, while Eighty-Eight is a song of lament.  The way Sandra has juxtaposed praise and petition is haunting and beautiful.

It only seems fitting to leave you with Sandra’s words about the album and to encourage you to listen to it yourself.

 “Since honest joy and honest grief are both recorded in the prayers of God’s people throughout church history, I wanted to give a fresh voice to both on this album.   We need to speak honest prayers to God, which can be heard over the nice-ness and theological tidiness of our church culture.”

Preach it, Sandra.

2 thoughts on “Favorite Things Friday: Preach it, Sandra!

  1. Oh baby-cakes. Beautifully written, as per uuuush. (who actually knows how to spell the “usual” abbreviation). I treasure that time in the car, and this album. OBVS.

  2. I like that you used the word ‘juxtaposed.’ I’ll have to take a listen to this album… I’m always looking for good music.

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