A Beautiful Surrender | Posted March 16, 2012 Staff Reviewer
Pounding drums and a rockin’ guitar riff kicks off the album, as Kristian Stanfill welcomes us with the Parachute Band-like “Not Ashamed.” It’s a declarative, high-tempo song that includes shouts of “Hey! Hey!” punctuating bold statements of faith: “I’m not ashamed of the one who saved my soul / This fire inside of me is burning for Your name!” It also smacks of the Passion: Awakening album’s early track, “Say, Say.”
The standout track on the album comes next, the title track, “White Flag.” The song--slightly more upbeat, but similar in feel to Passion’s “Our God”--features Chris Tomlin leading the Church in a passionate song about both freedom and surrender. Driving snare drums and a pounding bass drum create an epic end-of-a-movie kind of vibe for a song that extols the power of surrender to Jesus. “We raise our white flag; we surrender all to you, all for you / We raise our white flag; the war is over / Love has come, your love has won.” This track is one that will find its way into the majority of contemporary Western churches in just a few months.
“Jesus Son of God” sees the team-up of vocal powerhouses Tomlin and Christy Nockels. The song quickly builds in intensity as the story of Jesus’ sacrificial love is told, culminating in a personalization of the story: “Be lifted higher than all You've overcome / Your name be louder than any other song / There is no power that can come against Your love / The cross was enough, the cross was enough.” A simple and gripping refrain of affection for the Savior rings out with the Nockels-fronted “How I Love You.” Over and over, the people sing: “How I love You, Jesus.”
Fans of David Crowder*Band not ready to say goodbye get another chance to hear something new, as the Baylor boys present the song “All This Glory.” The song--which isn’t on any of the band’s other albums, including Give Us Rest--is an awestruck song about how God brought light into the darkness of our world and the darkness of our individual “messes.” A musically fitting companion to GIve Us Rest’s “Sometimes,” the song culminates in a loud declarative bridge: “Jesus! God with us! Jesus Christ has come, and I’m undone!” Crowder fans also will be delighted to hear a live version of the Give Us Rest hit “Let Me Feel You Shine” on the deluxe version of this album.
Tomlin and Matt Redman join forces for “Lay Me Down,” a song with a catchy hook that presents one’s self to God as a living sacrifice: “I lay me down, I’m not my own / I belong to You alone / Hand on my heart, this much is true / There’s no life apart from You.” The two worship leaders’ distinct voices play off one another well, and bring out the richness in each other.
The “Waiting Here For You” sort of tender moment from Here For You takes place with the also Nockels-led “You Revive Me.” The song is beautifully poetic, delicately resounding: “And all my deserts are rivers of joy / You are the treasure I could not afford / So I'll spend myself till I'm empty and poor / All for You / You revive me Lord.”
A pair of Tomlin-led songs likely will provide additional worship staples for the Church. “Yahweh” declares, “Yahweh / Your name alone be exalted.” The song reflects throughout on the attributes of God the Father--His sovereignty, His worthiness, His other-ness from everything else, His love, and His holiness--in a loud, chant-like chorus. On “The Only One,” we’re shown a song that has an uncharacteristically swinging melody that leads into a stadium-friendly chant in the chorus: “In my life, Jesus / More of You, Jesus / You are the One / You are the Only One.” The song is about tying our hopes and our trust to Christ.
“Sing Along” is a reminder that despite the pain in the darkest places of the world, God hasn’t forgotten. The acoustic guitar-driven verses talk about “babies hidden in the shadows”, “captives weeping” and “the pain we cannot see.” The verses break out into a surprisingly hopeful-sounding sung prayer that God would comfort the hurting world and that we’d participate, too: “Great God, wrap Your arms around this world tonight / And when You hear our cries / Sing through the night / So we can join in Your song / And sing along.”
White Flag features a smattering of songs already familiar to worship music listeners. The aforementioned “Let Me Feel You Shine,” Redman’s “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord),” the Brian Johnson/Bethel tune “One Thing Remains” (as performed by Stanfill), and Charlie Hall’s Christ-centered tune “Mystery” (from his 2008 release The Bright Sadness).
The album ends with “No Turning Back,” a fitting conclusion after 14 tracks of recognizing the Savior and declaring allegiance to Him. Led by Tomlin, the song--which gives more than a nod to the seminal commitment hymn, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”--speaks of standing for Christ when no one else does: “This is my heart cry / Though none go with me / The cross before me / The world behind me.” The journey ends here with power--a congregational exclamation point on an album full of declarations.
Passion has done it again. It’s amazing to see the progression of this movement, not just in terms of attendance and stature, but in terms of its music, too. The songs of the Church stem from this movement, clearly, and there’s no reason to believe White Flag won’t produce more of the same. The mix of voices, styles and focuses so beautifully paints the picture of a savior who is worthy of our allegiance. There’s a good mix of uptempo dancing songs, mid-tempo congregational anthems and down-tempo introspective worship moments, anchored by the pinnacle song on the album, “White Flag.”
I only have one complaint, and it’s that Lecrae should’ve made a return appearance! His participation in the last project was a great leap forward in worship music, and it would’ve been great to see that continue. And maybe it would’ve been great to have more Matt Redman. That said, there’s plenty of amazing supporting songs that cultivate an edifying and emboldening worship encounter.