Resonance: Beauty Leading to Goodness and Truth

I don’t claim to have good taste in music. I actually like “Here I Am, Lord” and “Ashes.” I grew up in the 90s and went through what some music critics call the worst era of music in the early 2000s. However, I really hope my taste has improved since then.

What I want to talk about here is those times when you hear a song that completely changes your mood, whether it’s for the better or for the worse. There’s this joke on Blimey Cow about some songs providing a “spiritual high” and yes, that has happened to me sometimes. But it’s not always like that. Back when Taylor Swift came out with her Red album, I enjoyed the songs, but didn’t relate to as many of them as I did with her Speak Now album. However, I found myself relating to those same songs later on when I found stories and situations that resonated with them.

And sometimes, the song you hear isn’t even a song from Christian radio. The artist may not even be religious, let alone nominally Christian, and yet their songs have a way of resonating with you. I think the Jesuit principle of finding God in all things particularly applies here.

Earlier this week, I suffered an anxiety attack. And even though it didn’t last long, I still felt shaken that it happened, given that I hadn’t had one in almost two years. Then, when I was browsing my YouTube feed, I found a song entitled “Relax/Take a Walk With Me”. And while I’m sure that the artist didn’t intend on it, the chorus reminded me of resting with Christ and walking with Him. When I listened to that song, the memory of the anxiety I suffered faded out.

Something similar happened when I got my heart broken as well. As anyone knows, there are phases you go through when you get your heart broken, similar to the five stages of grief. I was going through the “depression” phase, wanting to wallow in my feelings. Then, as I was browsing Facebook, this song appeared in my news feed. Needless to say, the song made me feel a lot better.

It’s always funny how songs can resonate with people and how songs can mean something that the artist may not have intended, but that’s the nature of art itself. Beauty speaks out universally, leading those who recognize it to goodness, and maybe eventually, to truth. When you hear a song that resonates, you find a connection and that wonderful feeling of not being alone. This leads to a change in how you feel and eventually learning from what had happened before.

So what songs resonate with you? Have you ever had the right song come in at the right moment? Please comment and let me know!

Retreat Weekend: A Playlist of Feels

I’ve been going to retreats since my college days. I’m currently on staff for a young adult retreat that starts tomorrow. So, in honor of Bayou Awakening 24, I present to you a playlist of songs that basically describe what a retreat attendant basically goes through, or at least how I feel before, during, and after.

There are two kinds of retreaters, I think. The ones who can’t wait to go and the ones who are reluctant to go, but feel like they have to.

 

This is the song for those who can’t wait:

 

This is the song for those who are reluctant to go:

 

The morning of the retreat

 

The first day:

 

The various retreat activities:

 

Spending time in prayer:

 

Free time spent playing games or dancing:

 

Getting a retreat crush (you know it happens):

 

The testimonies:

 

Opening yourself up to everyone:

 

That feeling you get after finding acceptance and forgiveness:

 

The last day of the retreat is both the best and the worst. It’s the best because they always save the best stuff for last. It’s the worst because you kind of feel like Peter during the Transfiguration, wanting to stay in that moment forever.

 

The moment you get that retreat high:

 

Wanting to volunteer for retreat staff:

 

Saying goodbye to your new friends:

 

After the retreat is over:

 

O Happy Fault

I can happily say that Audrey Assad was the first artist I ever saw in concert. It was amazing to see her live during her Fortunate Fall tour.

She recently posted on her social media that the short film that she and her husband created can now be viewed on Vimeo. I would do a commentary on said video, but I think it speaks for itself.

 

It’s only up for the week, so watch it while you can!

Danielle Rose: Culture of Life

In the spirit of the marches and rallies for life happening all across the country, I want to bring attention to music missionary Danielle Rose and her album Culture of Life.

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Copyright to Monstrance Music and Danielle Rose.

 

For those who don’t know, Danielle Rose is a Catholic singer/songwriter. She’s been making music since 2001. My personal favorite album is I Thirst, but I also like the tracks from Mysteries and Pursue Me. However, Culture of Life is by far her best album yet.

I don’t consider many real world people to be role model material, so believe me when I say that when I see Danielle Rose as my role model, know that my statement carries a lot of weight. One thing I’m noticing in all these songs is that God is always included in the story. None of these songs could be considered “praise and worship” in the traditional sense, but instead are more meditative, thought-provoking.

  • Little Flower: I love the Chinese flute intro, for starters. I also love the emphasis on God’s provision. “God provides” rings throughout, as if to say there is no need to worry about caring for the child in question. (In other words, take that one-child policy!) The music video is amazing, too. Watch it and please raise awareness of the Little Flower orphanage. Donate if you can.
  • Just One Life: Covering two instances where life hangs in the balance, with the bridge of Mary saying “yes” to the life God wanted to give to her. I can almost see a music video of my head of the stories getting happy endings, even though they don’t get any closure in the song. But maybe leaving them more open-ended is a good thing, since it makes you think of how much value one life really has.
  • You Matter: Living in Texas has made me a sucker for fiddles and steel guitars. It sounds like a wonderful, beautiful country-style song. The lyrics convey a love song, but it’s not one dedicated to a romantic interest in particular. Instead, it’s general enough to apply to anyone. It could be about a love interest or a child or a dear friend, but it’s a love song nevertheless. It’s a song you can dance to. If only country songs these days were more like this!
  • Waiting For You: It’s kind of crazy to think that the same lady who wrote ”Nothing Compares to You” is writing this love letter for her future husband. It’s a song of lovely longing worthy of being compared with the other epic love songs out there. This song does not beat around the bush about the importance of chastity, but it paints the waiting in such a beautiful light. What I love most, though, is that God still has her heart. St. John Paul II would be proud.
  • Make Love With God: Once again, this song does not beat around the bush about the sanctity of marriage. Too many songs about sex these days don’t really talk giving yourself to someone else. Instead they talk about what they’re getting out of it. And many, many people will probably laugh at the lyrics, but be honest. How many songs do you know talk about sex in such a beautiful way that respects both parties and includes God in it? And talks about family?! It’s not just making love, it’s making life.
  • A Mother’s Communion: This is every mother’s song to her child. It echoes what Pope Francis said about motherhood being a type of martyrdom. Never have I connected motherhood to the Eucharist until I listened to this song. My pastor said yesterday that our lives and our bodies are not our own (in reference to yesterday’s second reading). How often have we heard that phrase: “This is my body…” associated with justifying an abortion. How unaware they are that having that child is a call to surrender and selflessness. Pray for them.
  • Joseph’s Prayer of Adoption: It’s only natural that a song about motherhood would be followed by a song about fatherhood. This isn’t the first time she wrote a song in Joseph’s POV before and the lyrics feel like something Joseph would say to the child Jesus, like a father telling a bedtime story. The best part of this particular song, in my opinion, is when it extends from St. Joseph’s adoption of Jesus to God’s spiritual adoption of all of us.
  • Can You Hear Me: A lamenting song of the kind of loss that only abortion can give. Her vocalizations sound like crying, but in such a tragically beautiful way. The melody as a whole is haunting. This song provokes prayers for all those affected by abortion and I pray that it also invokes compassion. Danielle sounds like she’s really crying in this song, especially in the end. And heck, I’d probably be crying along with her.
  • Psalm 51: Okay, this lady obviously has some country roots in her. If “You Matter” reminds you of the upbeat country songs, this song is more akin to the strong, steady ballads that aren’t heard as often. Even though the lyrics speak of surrender and being sorrowful, the melody of the song speaks of strength.
  • Glorious Wounds: Another country-sounding song with fiddles and guitars. The uplifting tone also makes this song the closest thing to what’s typically recognized as “praise and worship.” It praises and worships the holy wounds of Christ, but also brings in the “felix culpa,” the blessing that comes from the brokenness. We may have our scars, but Christ still has His and we can use the scars of our lives to heal those who still have open wounds.
  • Not a Burden: I can see this song being sung as a round. I love the drums used. It inspires the hand-clapping and swaying kind of dance you would see in a charismatic Mass. It kind of reminds me of old spirituals like “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” The chorus is guaranteed to get stuck in your head.
  • Sharing Calvary: I can see myself listening to this during Lent. This song acts like an Ignatian meditation that takes you to Calvary and makes you feel like you’re really there, watching it or being a part of it. We can see ourselves as either thief or a spectator, sharing the pain that the ones crucified are experiencing. I love that it carries the theme of the previous song, that good things come from the pain and suffering that life brings.
  • The Saint That Is Just Me: This was the first song from the album I heard and I related to it instantly. I want my life to be just like so many other people, wishing I was someone else. The reason I have very few real life role models is because I’m more inclined to follow the example of the saints. But in the end, this song reminds me that God created me as I am and gave me this particular life for a reason. The first call will always be to holiness. How we live that call to holiness is up to God, but we need to answer that call to holiness first.
  • Reborn: I remember a movie night I had with my second graders where we watched a movie that included a scene of an old lady attending Mass. It was later revealed that the old lady was dead all along and her soul was attending Mass, preparing to enter Heaven. When I saw that scene, I thought of my dear friend Fr. Keon who passed away. I could easily see him saying these lyrics. Sometimes, I see him at Mass, celebrating with the priest. And other times, I think he’s still in the cafeteria at my old college, watching over the students. I still miss him, but this song makes me smile.
  • I Love Lifeland: It almost sounds like a children’s song, but I started laughing with joy as soon as the song started. It’s basically the song you would sing on a long road trip or at a summer. It’s like the Catholic version of Taylor Swift’s “22” or a throwback to “My Favorite Things.” There’s a little improvised scatting that acts like the bridge and just makes me wanna dance. The laughter in the song is absolutely contagious! What a beautiful way to end the album. It celebrates life with all the little moments and how the little things add up to a lot. And yes, this is my favorite track! How can you beat lyrics like “Daily Mass is the cat’s pajamas”?!

So if you haven’t done so already, get this album. So many of these songs can be anthems for the marches and rallies for life while other songs can apply to other aspects of life. I hope that at least one of these songs speaks to you the way they have spoken to me.

My Year In Photos: October

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The month of October usually consisted of 2 things: 1) Prepping for Halloween and 2) watching lots of scary movies. But this year, Taylor Swift took over with the premiere of her latest album, 1989. I already went into detail about how I obsessed over Taylor Swift ever since her first album came out. And lately, it seems like each song from 1989 has been applying to things I’m experiencing now or plan to do in the future.

Today, I wrote my first song and I listened to some of the tracks to get the bridge done correctly. And like Taylor Swift, this song was inspired by love. All I need now is just to set it to music.

 

I Always Tell Myself

 

Lately I find myself constantly astonished

At the way you always smile at me

You come into my life and all of a sudden

Part of myself wants to run and flee

 

Pre-Chorus:

Because I’m not afraid of wanting you

Not scared of losing what I never had

But I’m terrified at the idea that

you could love me back

 

Chorus:

I always tell myself you gotta take chances

I always tell myself you gotta take risks

Even when I’m standing next to you

Feels like I can’t handle it but

I’m willing to see this to the end

Put my heart on the line again

Want to see if this goes well

I always tell myself

 

I have no idea how this all began

It’s like I had all these questions

But the answer’s in your hands

Just when I thought I was safely in isolation

I find myself off my guard, at a loss for explanation

 

Pre-Chorus and Chorus

 

Bridge:

Sparks make flames where love begins

Felt so warm when you let me in

Could love give me a second chance

make me happy once again?

 

Top 13 Reasons I Love Taylor Swift

Today is Taylor Swift’s birthday. Little known fact: Taylor Swift is exactly one month older than me. She was born December 13, 1989. I was born on January 13, 1990. This isn’t the first time I talked about Taylor Swift on this blog and it probably won’t be my last.

Here are the Top 13 Reasons Why I Love Taylor Swift. Why Top 13? Because 13 is her lucky number (as well as mine).

  1. She writes all of her songs. Excluding her cover performances and recordings, 99.9% of Taylor’s music was written by her and a handful of others. But these songs are never “written by committee.”
  2. She’s a fangirl. She loves cats and watches shows like Gray’s Anatomy and Law and Order: SVU. (I still remember my Law and Order phase.) And now she has a tumblr. But I really wish she could delve into tumblr’s geeky side and get into the craziness that is SuperWhoLock.
  3. She’s never afraid to be herself. With album titles like Fearless and Speak Now, Taylor had confidence that I wish I had back when I was in college. And she continues to show that same bravado now by writing off her critics and making fun of herself. Speaking of which…
  4. She has the kookiest sense of humor. Not only does Taylor love to laugh at herself, she goes out of her way to do so. Like her performance as Natalie on Jimmy Fallon’s late night show and taking on Tumblr’s joke about how she’s actually named Becky. I consider “Shake It Off” to be a comedy act in and of itself, especially the rap bridge. How is the rap bridge a joke? Because now that she’s fully in the pop genre, she’s poking fun of songs with the obligatory rap bridge without the need to rent a rapper to make the song sound tough. Plus, I can’t resist the line of “the fella over there with the hella good hair.”
  5. She knows how to turn a bad situation around. Back when Taylor performed with Stevie Nicks at the Grammy’s, her live performance was less than stellar. One particular critic was particularly scathing. But instead of giving up, she wrote a song. And then she won a Grammy two years later for that very song. And she performed that very song at the Grammy’s.
  6. Her secret messages. I love the secret messages. Each message told a story underneath the song it came from. But by far 1989 has the best hidden messages because for the first time, they tell a story of their own.
  7. The specific lyrics. Taylor is a master storyteller, plain and simple. And whenever I listen to her songs, I imagine a story in my head. Even the very pop-sounding “Shake It Off” tells a story in spite of the lyrics being less specific.
  8. Her fashion sense. Taylor is a girly girl and makes no apologies for it. I love that her outfits never tend towards the stripperific (excluding the most recent Victoria’s Secret concert). She dresses smartly and sensibly, but it’s never boring or trashy.
  9. She loves her fans. She always goes out of her way to make sure that each fan that shows up at her concerts gets a small moment with her. That being said, why are the tickets for the 1989 tour so gosh darn expensive?!
  10. She’s smart about money. Expensive tickets aside, Taylor has some business savvy. Her parents both work in the financial industry, after all. By removing her music from Spotify, it prompted fans to buy her album in its physical form. Taylor is currently the only artist of 2014 whose album hit platinum. Try beating that, Beyonce!
  11. She always represented women’s empowerment, even before she took on the label of feminist. She’s one of the highest paid singers in the industry. She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to get it.  She stands up for herself and isn’t afraid to call people out on their actions.
  12. She’s not afraid to try new things. Her songs were genre-breaking, going beyond country and pop. Not to mention deciding to go full pop after 4 albums of being “country-pop.” She took a huge risk in moving to New York City and embracing this new image, but it paid off.
  13. She learns from her mistakes. In spite of what the media says, many of Taylor’s songs actually apologize for whatever she did. She failed so many times in love, but learned something from each heartbreak. And now she embraces the single life and focuses on making good friendships.

The Story of Me and Taylor Swift

It started back in 2006. I was in my car listening to the radio, still reeling from my first breakup. I hated country music because one particular country song made me think of him. But unfortunately, I was in Texas. I couldn’t escape country music. So imagine my surprise when I hear a very teenage feminine voice on the radio talking about how she wrote songs based on a few breakups she’s been through recently. They were playing songs from this female artist’s album, which meant that not all of the songs were going to be singles. And a smile broke out on my face as the song “Picture to Burn” played.

Little did I know that it was the start of my obsession with a singer named Taylor Swift.

Growing up, I loved singers who wrote songs that told a story. Yes, I also loved boy bands and the pop divas, but the songs I really liked were songs that spoke from the soul. Or at least sounded like they were soul-baring. Taylor Swift was everything I was looking for in a singer and I didn’t even care that she was a country singer because I related to the songs she wrote.

Taylor Swift, to me, was the artist who was with me when I was settling into Texas and she went with me while I started college. So even though I’ve yet to meet her, I feel like she’s a huge part of my life. Like her, I was kind of known in college for being a hopeless romantic. I would have a different crush every year and with the different crushes I would have a different Taylor Swift song that made me think of them.

I started noticing a change in Taylor Swift during her Red era, when I found myself not really relating to the songs on the album at first. I still liked them on their own merit, but I was afraid that I wasn’t able to relate to Taylor Swift anymore. Thankfully, a good friend told me that sometimes, songs take time to relate to. It turned out that the songs from Red were right there when I really needed them. Some of the songs from Red remind me of couples from TV that I ship while other songs applied more to things I experienced.

1989 has been Taylor’s biggest change yet. I was scared when I heard rumors that she was going to work with Max Martin, which meant that the album would be more pop than country. I was afraid that Taylor would start sounding like every other Top 40 singer out there. I was determined to hate “Shake It Off…”

But the funny thing about Taylor Swift is that no matter what changes she goes through, there are some parts of her that haven’t changed. When I watched the Yahoo Live stream that announced her new single and album, I danced along with Taylor and saw how happy she was. And that was enough for me to realize that I still loved her. And I loved “Shake It Off.”

So now I’m gonna do a “first impressions” take of Taylor’s latest album 1989. I’m going to include tracks from the deluxe edition since that’s the one I own. Disclaimer: I don’t consider myself a music critic. I’m just giving a fan’s opinion.

  1. Welcome to New York: This is the perfect “story opener.” You can put a movie trailer to this song. Although I haven’t moved anywhere since I started my life in Texas, I relate to this song because it makes me think of when I went to comic convention in May. I can also relate to the whole “this is a new phase of my life and I’m loving it” feeling that this song gives. Fave lyric: “It’s a new soundtrack, I could dance to this beat forevermore.”
  2. Blank Space: The demo for this track and Taylor’s story behind this song helped me to understand this song. When I first heard it, I felt like it was Taylor expressing her inner “bad girl.” Now I feel like it’s sort of a self-depreciation humorous take on what the media thinks Taylor is. The track is currently helping me laugh at my own boy-craziness back in college, especially since now I’m crushing again for the first time in two years. Fave lyrics: “Got a long list of ex-lovers/They’ll tell you I’m insane/But I’ve got a blank space baby/And I’ll write your name.”
  3. Style: This is my favorite track on the album. I love the disco beat and the story of a dysfunctional relationship. But the chorus is my favorite part. When I first heard it on Taylor’s Target commercial, it was love at first note! Fave line: “You got that long haired slicked back white t-shirt and I got that good girl faith and a tight little skirt.”
  4. Out of the Woods: Taylor said that this track best represented what 1989 was to her. And it’s true. The tracks of 1989 have a lot of repetition, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I wondered how exactly the song conveyed the anxieties and insecurities of a relationship when the verses talked about the good times in a relationship. But then I remembered how I had relationships where I never knew where I stood with them, even when times were good. It reminds me a lot of “All Too Well.” Also, Taylor, you date some seriously bad drivers! Fave lyric: “We were built to fall apart then fall back together.”
  5. All You Had to do Was Stay: This is kind of my least fave track because of the high pitched “stay” that keeps repeating in the song. Usually, Track 5 of a Taylor Swift song is a heartbreaking slow number. The lyrics still convey that, but the music doesn’t match their angry tone. And usually, I like lyrical dissonance. But it just doesn’t work for this song.
  6. Shake It Off: As stated before, I love the tongue-in-cheek of this song and the music video. I was dancing along to this song and I keep dancing to this song every time I hear it on the radio. I love that it’s a “happy to be single” song. I can’t help but smile when I listen to it. Fave lyric: “To the fella over there with the hella good hair, won’t you come on over baby?” (Makes me think of my celeb crush who has the best hair ever.)
  7. I Wish You Would: Another disco-sounding track. This time, things are a bit more fast-paced. The song kind of goes into fast forward. The story, to me, reflects the fast pace of the song. A love that burned brightly but burnt out just as quickly. The constant “I wish” that repeats in the back towards the second half of the song get stuck in my head easily. Fave lyric: “We’re a crooked love in a straight line down.”
  8. Bad Blood: I almost didn’t recognize Taylor’s voice at first when I heard this song except in the chorus. I could almost swear that someone else was singing the verses and that Taylor just singing the chorus. But in reality, Taylor’s singing in her lower range. The song is about a friend’s betrayal, so naturally I can relate to it. The lyric “Did you think we’d be fine/Still got scars on my back from your knife” basically describes what happened when my former friend tried to contact me again. Fave lyric: “Band-aids don’t fix bullet holes.”
  9. Wildest Dreams: This song, to me, tells the story of a short-lived romantic affair. Although the song styles are different, the story of the song kind of reminds me of “Careless Whisper.” This is Taylor’s most mature track, but she approaches it with a lot of fondness. Fave lyric: “He’s so tall and handsome as hell/He’s so bad but he does it so well.”
  10. How You Get the Girl: A seriously catchy track. Like some of the songs from Red, this particular track makes me think more of a certain couple I ship rather than how the song applies to me. I can imagine this song being used in fanvids. It has a vibe of “10 Things I Hate About You.” Fave Lyrics: “I want you for worse or for better/I would wait forever and ever/Broke your heart/I’ll put it back together”
  11. This Love: This is the only song on the album that Taylor wrote on her own. Taylor shines in this track, baring her soul and telling the story of how she tries to move on from this relationship only for her to still miss this person and surprisingly, the person she misses comes back to her. It’s a beautiful slow song. Again, I can’t help but think of a certain OTP of mine when it comes to this song. Fave lyric: “These hands had to let it go free and this love came back to me.”
  12. I Know Places: This song reminds me of a Fall Out Boy Track. I love the minor key, but I so wish she kept the song with just a piano like she did in the demo. The lyrics tell a story of an us-against-the-world kind of relationship. Bonnie and Clyde 2014. (Could also work for a dark Doctor Who episode.) Fave lyrics: “They are the hunters/we are foxes.”
  13. Clean: It’s a post-breakup song but with a lot of introspection and tells a story of a girl who rescues herself from the danger she put herself in. The 10 months sober bridge reminds me of an addict trying to stay on the wagon.  Fave lyric: “”Just because you’re clean don’t mean you don’t miss it.”
  14. Wonderland: It reminds me of a Rihanna track with the repetitive “eh’s.” That aside, I love the story of the chaotic love that moved too fast. A love that went mad. If she performs this in her 1989 concert tour, I can already imagine her dressed up Alice in Wonderland style. Fave lyric: “We found wonderland/You and I got lost in it/Life was never worse, but never better.”
  15. You Are In Love: A beautiful, sweet, romantic song. The story of the beginnings of love, realizing that you’re in love with someone. Fave lyric: “And you understand now why they lost their minds and fought the wars/And why I spent my whole life trying to put it into words.”
  16. New Romantics: A fast-paced song with a disco-esque track about trying to find new love. Almost a rebound anthem. Fave lyric: “The best people in life are free.”

EPL (CV) Day 2: Sing…Sing a Song

Today was a little more low-key than yesterday. I wore earrings for the first time in forever. (I had to get them re-pierced and I just took my earrings off.) It felt really weird, but I liked how they looked. But, like the nails, they are definitely not something I want to wear all the time.

The best part of the day, though, was going to the local arcade, where they had karaoke rooms, just like in Akibaranger. (If you don’t know what that is, Google it.)

It was so much fun singing karaoke in a place other than the usual Filipino family reunion. Di and her friends were hilarious!

Here are some grid photos featuring the highlights of the hour-long karaoke-rama.

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Now on a scale on 1-10, how 90s is my outfit?

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Lent Day 40: Music for Holy Week

A word of advice from experience. As much as I loved listening to my local Christian Music radio station, the occasional advertisement was always Easter-centric or said the words “He is Risen!” while I shouted: NOT YET!

Sorry, Christian Radio, but you’re kind of jumping the gun along with the rest of America here. The purpose of Lent is to remember the Passion and death of Jesus first. Catholics celebrate Easter for 50 days. There is plenty of time to celebrate, but now’s not the time. It’s like opening Christmas presents a week early!

With that in mind, I’m going to recommend some music to listen to during this week. Today, I want y’all to check out a woman named Audrey Assad and her album Fortunate Fall.

Patheos blogger Marc Barnes wrote what I think is the best recommendation for this album. But given that I’m also an Audrey Assad fan, I’m gonna give my two cents.

This album captures so much of what Lent is and what Lent centers on. The first track recalls the Exsultet, an ancient chant sung during the Easter Vigil. Ever heard of the term “Felix Culpa?” That’s Latin for “fortunate fall.” “O happy fault that gained for us so great a redeemer.” The sin of Adam led to Christ redeeming mankind as a whole, which is reflected upon in the Easter Vigil’s readings.

The second track is “Help My Unbelief.” Taking inspiration from Mark 9:24 and Doubting Thomas’s revelation, the song reflects the mindset of spiritual dryness. In this song, the person is making an effort to be faithful, but is suffering some kind of trial. How often we forget to ask the Lord for His help when we are down.

“Humble” is a song of praise to Jesus for becoming human. So many songs in Christian music speak so much of Jesus’s divinity. How many songs acknowledge His humanity? The song also asks those listening to follow in John the Baptist’s example, to let themselves decrease so that Christ can increase.

“O Happy Fault” is an interlude but worth listening to for the instrumentals and the echos of “Felix Culpa.” It’s almost meditative, recalling the Easter Vigil with gratitude and gravitas.

“Lead Me On” takes inspiration from the uber-famous Psalm 23. Although it’s a structured song (in the whole verse-chorus-verse sense), it continues the theme of gratitude grounded in humility. It’s beautiful in its simplicity, with the imagery of the psalm actually working with the subtle glow of the song. Mark Barnes sings this song’s praises better than I can, tho, so read his article linked above, please!

“I Shall Not Want” takes inspiration from a Catholic prayer called The Litany of Humility. It’s also structured in a verse-chorus-verse style, but the song is carried with just piano, stringed instruments, and backup vocals. Again, there is beauty within the simplicity of this song, which cries out with desire of deliverance from everything the world values most.

“Good to Me” is a song of praise within hard times. Happiness that is surrounded by hardships. More “spiritually high” than “Help My Unbelief,” it recalls some familiar biblical phrases from the Psalms and the Song of Solomon. It captures a martyr’s hope in such a beautiful way.

“Felix Culpa” is another instrumental interlude. It repeats the earlier “O Happy Fault,” but takes on a more joyful tone, like a sunrise on Easter Morning.

“Spirit of The Living God” is a cover of an old hymn, a prayer to the Holy Spirit. So much power behind what I am sure is a song done in a minor key. (I’m not a music major, so please, someone listen to this song and tell me if this was done in a minor key!)

“Lead Kindly Light” is based on a prayer by Cardinal Newman. It’s a prayer of a lost soul trying to find home again. It can also be about a person trying to find his path to whatever God is calling him to do. It’s the story of a journey, of a walk taken in faith and not by sight. The piano and soft vocals reflect the tone of the words. It’s not a grand gesture, like “Amazing Grace,”  but instead a quiet acquiescence to God’s will.

The last song on the album starts in a moment of silence. “You Speak” comes as a “fade to black” ending to this rich album. The chorus of the song echoes Mother Teresa’s famous quote “In the silence of the heart, God speaks.” It builds up to a wonderful crescendo before slowly fading out, like Jesus ascending into Heaven.

Listen to this album. It is awesome.