A review of the latest CD release by Contemporary Christian artist Michael Schroeder
by Steve Brown
“The Passion” was released in time for Holy Week observations 2014. It is a compilation of Michael Schroeder’s best passion-filled songs together with a few new pieces.
Vinyl Records and a Trip Down Memory Lane
One thing that I enjoy about Michael’s CDs is that in one way, they remind me of vinyl album releases back when I was a teen. I remember the actual buying of an album to be such a fun experience because when you got home and opened it up, you were treated to an array of album artwork, printed lyrics – sometimes there were even messages from the artists; but the real treat was if a poster was also included.
More than an MP3 Download
Michael’s CDs, at least his last two, contain little gems that harken back to these fond memories of opening up a new album. His last CD, titled “Worship” contained two discs: (1) the music CD and (2) a bonus disc of backing tracks to be used in a corporate worship setting. The 2-CD package also included all the lyrics together with an exhaustive list of scripture references and an article on Michael’s thoughts relating to worship.
His new CD, “The Passion” contains a devotional booklet to be read for each day during Holy Week. It is this kind of stuff that is missing in today’s world of digital downloads. The eight devotional readings are paired with the first eight songs from the CD. It is worth the purchase of the CD just to experience the worship moment of reading through these devotions while listening to the selected song. Without giving too much away, in the devotions you will learn that the first song, the song that goes along with Palm Sunday – was written in a very inspirational and special place. As the saying goes, “sometimes we just need to strike while the iron is hot.”
The Song List
Here’s a quick rundown of the ten songs contained on the CD:
1. Jesus is Lord* – Palm Sunday (originally released on the Worship CD)
2. Handle with Prayer – Monday (originally released on A Witness)
3. The Greatest Gift – Tuesday (originally released on Fuel for the Soul)
4. The One – Wednesday (originally released on Fuel for the Soul)
5. Just as I Am* – Maundy Thursday (originally released on the Worship CD)
6. The Nails* – Good Friday (new)
7. Free – Saturday (originally released on A Witness)
8. Jesus Christ is Risen Today* – Easter Sunday (new)
9. Paradise* (originally released on A Witness)
10. Love Changes Everything* (originally released on the Worship CD)
The “*” next to some songs are what I would classify as “congregational friendly” – meaning these can be sung in corporate worship if you have a good enough worship team to pull-off the accompaniment. All of the songs are a pleasure to listen to and nicely produced.
The CD cover art is a simple, delicate, pink poppy – a symbol of sleep (remember in the Wizard of Oz), peace, remembrance, life lost and the promise of resurrection after death – perfect for a Holy Week compilation! Do you see any other symbolism? There is one more important element. Look closely and open up your mind and think about Holy Week and your savior. It will come to you.
Rather than provide a critical commentary on each song, I will concentrate on the two newbies – “The Nails” and the remake of “Jesus Christ is Risen Today“.
He Nailed It!
The Nails is obviously a passionate piece for Schroeder as it is sung with great feeling and emotion. I think this is so important in worship. Charlie Chaplin, was once quoted as saying: “we tend to think too much and feel too little.” I think he’s right. If us worshippers could harness this emotion in our corporate singing, God would be greatly glorified and we would also sound a whole lot better! Music is meant to be felt. We are not stones. Like Jesus, we are passionate people.
“I haven’t understood a bar of music in my life, but I have felt it.” - Ivan Stravinsky
I am pleased that Schroeder sings with heart-felt emotions making these lyrics his personal testimony to his Savior. In the church, we call this “inwardly digesting the lyrics”. Lyrically, the song hits deep, as most of Schroeder’s songs do. It strikes a ringing minor chord in my heart. It is a perfect song for Good Friday as it captures the essence of this incredible substitutionary sacrifice – for You! And for me!
You can hear “The Nails” here:
He Makes All Things New!
The new arrangement for “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” to me, is only recognizable with the singing of the title line followed by Alleluia. There are plenty of new lyrics, new progressions, new instrumentation, a new groove, new, new, new… to make this a joyous pleasure to listen to. I guarantee that you will be smiling and tapping your foot within a few seconds of listening to this piece.
What’s really special to me is that I love the original hymn and when this is the case, I just don’t like it when people mess around with them. Leave them alone! They have survived a few centuries for a reason! What I do like, is when it is changed so much that it takes on a new life and this is exactly what happens with Schroeder’s arrangement of the classic hymn. It does have a new life and a new meaning. You will just have to hear it for yourself.
Link to listen to “Jesus ChristChrist is Risen Today”:
A Penultimate Thought
On a closing note, check out the pinnacle of the song titled “Paradise“. You will know the pinnacle moment by the pitch of one exemplary high note. I’m guessing it’s at least a very impressive high G note. It does it’s job. It draws attention to the lyrics and after all, our music is supposed to serve the word, right?
It strikes me that this CD would be a great confirmation gift or a good subject matter for a teen bible class!
You can read all the lyrics, watch a few videos, and purchase the Passion CD at michaelschroeder.com.