Prime Cuts: Thy Mercy, My God, Till He Comes Again, We Will Feast in the House of Zion
Overall Grade: 5/5
Sandra McCracken contributes two things to worship music that is somehow of a rarity these days. First, instead of the pop-rock sounds of countless worship songs, McCracken brings a diversity of genres into her musical palette. For starters, she has an Emmylou-Harris-esque southern drawl in her enunciation. This gives her songs a rootsy flavor even when she's not even trying. Moreover, on this newly released Integrity Music album, she adds a jazzy twist giving her songs another layer of identity few can imitate. Second, like The Gettys and Shane and Shane, she is a champion of modern hymns. This means that her songs are generally theologically and poetically meatier.
Recorded live at the Laity Lodge in the hill country of Texas, Light in the Canyon comprises of mostly McCracken's better-known songs garnered from her expansive repertoire. Sounding like a track Harry Connick Jr would covet, "Trinity" is given a modern pop-jazz take with some stunning saxophone accompaniment. Never locked in a style, "Hold to God's Unchanging Hand" has a nostalgic vintage 60s country feel to it. Meanwhile, the piano riffs give "Have Mercy" a vulnerability that is mesmerising.
The church would be so much richer if we would sing some of McCracken's songs. Case in point being, "Until He Comes Again." When was the last time a song addresses the issue of the Lord's Supper and Christ's second coming? If you want to know how these two glorious themes are related, listen to the newly crafted "Until He Comes." Filled with so many images from the Bible is the anthemic "We Will Feast in the House of Zion" and the balladry "Christ is the Life of the World."
If you think poetical expressions are dead in worship music, thank God we have McCracken to prove us wrong. "Thy Mercy, My God" contains some of the most heartfelt lines about the Gospel: "Thy mercy, my God, is the theme of my song/The joy of my heart and the boast of my tongue/Thy free grace alone, from the first to the last/Has won my affections, and bound my soul fast." Invoking the heart and the mind with truths that cannot be denied, can worship be any richer? If you are looking for something substantial and affecting, look no farther than Sandra McCracken's Light in the Canyon.