A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

El Shaddai (God Almighty)

I attend a smallish church of about 120 plus people which is why a talentless hack like me gets co-opted to be worship leader/vocalist twice in every quarter.
But last Sunday, something good happened... I picked the award winning song, El Shaddai. to be part of the repertoir. Not only did it fit well into the scheme of the morning, it turned out to be a pretty decent summary of the sermon. The husband who is a bit of a Michael Card fanboy and is totally responsible for turning me into a Michael Card fangirl said to me later in the car that he thought that song was one of the best Christian songs ever written.
Well, pedantic person that I am, I hesitated. As one does when superlatives get thrown around. I love El Shaddai to pieces but one of the best Christian songs? I um-ed and ah-ed... and prattled a list of some of my favourite hymns such as Watt's When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Wesley's And Can It Be, Philip Bliss' Man of Sorrows as examples of superior writing (seldom matched in our day except perhaps by Getty and Townend) and great use of the English language while combining rich theology.

His retort after my 2 minute ramble was, "Well, I did say... ONE of the best."

I love Michael Card... and I think that he is one of the really gifted Christian singer/songwriters of our generation. I remember going to a concert of his years ago and the man played what it seemed to me like half a dozen instruments... from a six-string guitar to a twelve-string, to the piano, to a mandolin and something Irish. He is a gifted musician, a wordsmith and has a deep appreciation of the Scriptures. A rare combination. (One of those annoying people whose talents make you sick to the stomach) His Ancient Faith trilogy is just a superb tribute to the Old Testament, musically and theologically.

But... I'm still not entirely convinced that El Shaddai is "one of the best Christian songs ever written..." It's not as if I have impossibly high standards but I like to think I'm somewhat discerning. I may possibly need to think on it further.
Nevertheless, I can understand why he thinks that... The second stanza, in particular, expresses the unity of the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.

Through the years you've made it clear
That the time of Christ was near
Though the people couldn't see
What Messiah ought to be
Though your word contained the plan
They just could not understand
Your most awesome work was done
Throught the frailty of your Son.

Perhaps it's just an indication of just how weak-kneed a lot contemporary Christian music is these days, that has led the husband to praise the song so highly. But judging the song on its own merits... it's still quite wonderful...

El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
El-Elyon na Adonia, (God Most High and Lord)
Age to age You're still the same,
By the power of the name.
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
Erkamka na Adonai, (I Love You Lord)
We will praise and lift You high,
El Shaddai.
Through your love and through the ram,
You saved the son of Abraham;
Through the power of your hand,
Turned the sea into dry land.
To the outcast on her knees,
You were the God who really sees,
And by Your might,
You set Your children free.
Words and Music: Michael Card and John Thompson

1 comment:

  1. One of my favourite songs! Didn't know it was Michael Card or how famous he was and still is, when I first learnt that song! Just over 10 years now!


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