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antiochLIVE

I haven't really heard AntiochLIVE before.

But am I glad I did now!

Published by Clear Day record label, it turns out that their previous two albums released in 2012 and 2013 hit #3 and #2 respectively on the iTunes Christian charts. So what's left? #1 of course! And apparently, that's the number "It is finished" hit when it released on September 16th .

Interested? Read on.

"It is finished" contains 7 new and original worship songs recorded live. The sound quality is expectedly up there at the top since the producer happens to be Jeremy Edwardson who's worked with artists like Jesus Culture, Bethel Live, Kari Jobe etc.

That said, here are my thoughts on the songs:

1. Shout Shout

An up-tempo opener that does just what it's intended to do—get people on their feet and shout praises to the Lord! It's a nice tune to declare who we are in Christ.

2. Free forever.

Another peppy number continuing from where "Shout Shout" stops. I suspect youth services will especially love both these songs.

3. It is Finished

The title track is one of the best songs of the album—it has one of those choruses that you won't mind singing again and again and again! It presents the work of the Cross really well and it's difficult not to sing along to this one!

4. To You be the Glory

Another catchy chorus that's bound to stay with you for some time. A very pleasant song to offer our adoration to the Lord and declare that we are His!

5. Relentless Love

The first song led by a female worship leader brings in a wave of freshness in the vocals. Love the 2nd verse and the soaring bridge—overall another nice song!

6. Worthy is the Lamb

This song just exudes raw passion and is definitely the best led song of the album—from a worship leader's perspective that is. You have to listen to it to understand what I mean!

7. How Great You Are

Sounds like AntiochLIVE has saved the best for the last with this one! The closing song is definitely my favorite—superb presentation of the salvation story with an infectious chorus that draws us to respond with grateful worship—great song!

And now for the giveaway: Here's how you can get this album for FREE!

Just leave a comment below or tweet this post or share it on Facebook for a chance to win a free digital download of "It is Finished". Go for it—there'll be 2 winners!

This giveaway is completed.

And btw, AntiochLIVE is offering the lyrics + chords for all the songs for free here: http://antiochcc.com/finished-lyrics-chords/

Disclaimer: I received this album for free from the folks at Clear Day record to listen and post this review. The views expressed here are completely my own and  I am not obliged to write a positive review.

Review + Giveaway: "It is Finished" by AntiochLIVE

By Gangai Victor →

Jesus1_2_thumb3

In Philippians 1:21, St. Paul makes one of those jaw-dropping statements that can be meditated on for a lifetime and more:

“…For to me, to live is Christ…”

Wow!

How about letting this verse impact our worship?

Let's think about it—how amazing would it be if we could live and lead our sessions in a manner that inspires us to say, “For to me, to worship is Christ!”

In this post, let’s look at some of the ways in which we can engulf our worship into the vast expanse of the wonder of Jesus.

4 tips to lead Christ centered Worship

 

Embrace death

No my friend, I am not advocating suicide.

I am talking about dying to self and letting go of our fleshly desires to make worship attractive/interesting/entertaining—for that would turn the spotlight that belongs to Christ alone upon us. Instead, think about what Jesus would want from His Church's worship and lead out of that mindset.

Out of this embrace of self-death, our dependence will shift from our talent/ability/experience to the Holy Spirit who will then bring out a worship that's far more authentic and holier than we would have otherwise offered—trust me on this one!

1. Represent Christ

    I doubt any of us will ever declare “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1) like St. Paul!

    But that doesn’t mean we don’t strive to be Christ like either. Here are a few questions to ponder:

    • Am I still arrested by the love of God or is it the lure of the stage these days?

    • Am I pursuing God’s will as the food of my life or is it all about me, myself and my latest favorite song?

    • Am I willing to encourage, train and equip others in worship ministry or am I wallowing in insecurity possessively hogging the stage?

    • Do I value integrity and personal prayer-life above ministry?

    • Can I take suffering in my stride or am I constantly murmuring when things don’t go too well for me?

      Your team and others watch you and when they see Christ in you, they will follow your footsteps far more comfortably and confidently—inevitably, this will also reflect positively in the way your stage ministry functions.

      2. Tell the story

      Check your song lyrics—are we too caught up with songs about me, what I can do for God, my emotions and feelings and so on? While such songs are not bad by themselves, too much of them can skew our worship towards self-centeredness than God-centeredness.

      Let’s sing more about the greatest story of all—of Christ saving us again and again and again! Sing of His Cross, His mercy, His justice, His Blood, His ridiculously extravagant love, His resurrection… you see, a gospel focus is crucial to instill joy and life into our worship.

      Let's make the story of Jesus Christ the cornerstone of worship.

      3. Marry songs with scripture

      When selecting songs, let's not just be seduced by things like the melody, other musical attributes or the songwriter's reputation.

      Rather, it's important to use the mind too when following the heart. Let's strive to use songs that are correct in theology, rich in lyrics and firmly grounded upon the Word of God.

      At times, it’s also helpful to take a few moments to explain the song, maybe even quoting the scripture verses that the lyrics are based on.

      Carefully choose appropriate verses from the Bible and read/recite them between songs or over an instrumental interlude during a song. Keep it short with 1 or 2 verses, else it could be distracting.

      4. Communion

      I've said this before, but I'll say it again: There's no other tangible means of placing Christ at the center of our worship than the Eucharistic meal. It brings alive the Story right before our eyes enabling us to join with John the Baptist and joyously proclaim, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29)

      Let's lead the kind of worship that routes us to Communion—there's no deeper climax to worship than this—not the most artistic of lyrics or the sweetest of melodies. For it’s at the table that Christ becomes the sole focus of our worship enabling us to joyously proclaim, “For to me, to worship is Christ!”

      Okay so those are my thoughts—but I am keener to hear yours. What does it take to lead worship that’s centered on Christ?

      4 Tips to Kill the Mystery Out of Leading Christ-Centered Worship

      By Gangai Victor →

      Set_Apart_Worship_Central

      Worship Central's new album, "Set apart" is probably one of the strongest worship music releases this year. Not surprising considering the artists on it include Tim Hughes, Ben Cantelon, Luke & Anna Hellebronth and  Karen Gillespie!

      After their widely acclaimed "Let It Be Known", this one naturally comes with high expectations—can it meet them successfully?

      Well, after listening to it a good number of times for over a week, here's what I think:

      1. The Way

      Tim Hughes opens proclaiming Jesus is the way. While it does have this customary let's-start-with-a-fast-song feel to it, the song does the job. Youth services would especially dig this one!

      2. Stand Up

      This is one of those songs that lots of people like, but somehow it doesn't work for me as much as his other songs. That said, Luke Hellebronth is certainly a talent to watch out for.

      3. Can't Stop Your Love

      For me, it's this song that gets the album to hit the high gears—Ben Cantelon gives us a very catchy and singable chorus that's hard to get out of your head once you listen to it 2 or 3 times.

      4. Set Apart

      If I were to pick one reason to buy this record, undoubtedly it'd be this one! The title track is a gem lyrically and melodically. It just drew me in and blew me away—worship leaders, please add this one to your master song list, it belongs there! Tim smashes it out of the park on this one.

      5. Pursue Me

      Luke comes back with this mellow prayer to the Father reminding us of the unstoppable love of God—you're not going to skip this one!

      6. Awesome is He

      Anna Hellebronth is the first rose among the thorns on this album coming in with an uplifting rendition of "Awesome is He"—I didn't really like this song until I heard Anna sing it. A lovely call to worship, can't believe this is the 6th song—should have come in much earlier—love this song now!

      7. Worth it All

      This is another beauty sung by Ben on the themes of surrendering and joining heaven's song—must have.

      8. All That I am

      A spontaneous song by Tim continuing from "Worth it All" driving it home that we belong to God.

      9. Enough Light

      Love the rhythm and groove on this (I always enjoy the toms you see!). Led by Ben declaring the sufficiency of the light of the Lord for us.

      10. Let Go

      An up-tempo song that's kind of okay—not really the best one on this record.

      11. Your Cross Is Enough

      Luke leads this anthem declaring the powerful work of the Cross—one of the best songs of the album.

      12. Dead Things To Life

      Another sweet tune by Ben on how much we need Jesus to raise us to life.

      13. Singing Over Us

      Nice melody, but lyrically seems a bit all over the place—Karen does an excellent job leading it though.

      14. Wide Open Spaces

      Another spontaneous song led by Tim—one my favorite moments in this record. This is where everything is stripped away and only worship remains—raw, unarranged, full of heart and beautiful!

      Strangely, most of these songs are good enough to stand by themselves, but when put together into one album, they kind of end up sounding the same and that is the only weakness here. Apart from the samesness in music, most of the songs are arranged like this: Verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge sung in low octave-bridge sung in high octave, repeat for maximum effect-end with chorus. After the 5th or 6th song, it begins to sound a bit formulaic. Also, 2 songs lesser would have made for a crispier record.

      But make no mistake, this collection of songs is a fine addition to your contemporary worship collection. There are so many usable and accessible songs for worship leaders here that you have to check it out.

      And now for the giveaway!

      Just leave a comment below, tweet this post or share it on Facebook for a chance to win a free digital download of "Set Apart". Go for it—there'll be 2 winners!

      This giveaway is over.
       
      Have you heard "Set Apart"? What do you think about it?

      Disclaimer: I received this album for free from Integrity Music to listen and post this review. The views expressed here are completely my own and  I am not obliged to write a positive review.

      Set Apart by Worship Central: Album Review + GIVEAWAY!

      By Gangai Victor →

      Watch on YouTube.

      Want this song for free?

      Just click here and it's all yours!

      The free digital download contains the MP3 file and a PDF chord chart.

      Your Grace is Enough-old

      Yes, it's really that easy!

       

      Song credits

      Sung by: Catherine Claret Harry

      Written by: Gangai Victor

      Composed by: Gangai Victor & Robert Martin

      Music direction, arrangements, mixing and mastering: Gerard Joseph

      Hope the song helps you in your worship, let me know what you think in the comments.

      Free Worship Song: Your Grace is Enough

      By Gangai Victor →

      worship-songwriting

      For a worship songwriter, few things are more frightening than playing a song publicly... for the first time.

      "What if it crash lands the worship?", "what if they hate it?", "what if they don't sing along?", "what if..." are only some of the inner questions that we struggle with, right?

      Trust me, introducing a song before it's fully ready is quite the heartbreaking mistake!

      Developing a very thick skin to withstand the holes that others could poke into our works of art is essential for any creative artist. That apart, here are some effective measures to get our songs 'public worship' ready before introducing them on stage.

      5 Surefire Steps to Safely Introduce Your Own Worship Songs

       

      Step 1: Be sure of the song's purpose

      Is the song a secret prayer to the Lord? Is it meant to be sung in public at all? I mean, not all worship songs are strictly public church songs, right? If it's not meant for a congregation and it's written solely to express your heart personally to the Lord, the song has already achieved its purpose.

      Step 2: The personal test

      If you're sure the song is meant for congregational worship, create a rough recording of it. Hook a mic to your PC and record it with a piano or acoustic guitar. If that's too complex for you, use any voice recording app on your smartphone.

      Listen to the mock recording yourself. No matter how good you think the song is, hearing a recording of it always helps to notice flaws and tweaks that we otherwise tend to miss.

      Now, give it a break and listen to it again on a weekly or fortnightly basis. Do this 3 or 4 times and make those adjustments that you identify.

      If you still like the song, you're ready for the next step. Else, go back to the drawing board, and rewrite and/or recompose!

      Step 3: The peer group test

      Play your song to a trusted group of friends who understand your art—people who are worship leaders, songwriters or musicians themselves and ask for their honest feedback. Oh and be sure to put on the armor of thick skin before you ask them!

      Listen to their views impassively—while you don't have to agree with everything they say—listen carefully—you will get useful points of improvement. Also, pay attention to a suggestion, especially if it comes from more than one person.

      Make changes to your song if required and repeat steps 2 and 3 until there is some kind of a consensus that the song is a good one.

      Step 4: The non-musician test

      By now, you should have sorted out any musical and technical flaws at least, which is great but still not enough.

      It's also important to estimate what someone in the congregation would think of your song.  So play it for a non-musician friend to get what I call "qualitative" feedback—you know, things like "It doesn't speak to my heart" or "I don't get it, what's it about again?" and so on.

      If the song makes a positive impression on the non-musician, you're on to something!

      Else, the song is probably still not ready and needs more work. 

      Step 5: Playing it live

      Now it's time to include your song in your next worship set-list and see how it goes in the real world of congregational worship.

      If you've followed the previous 4 steps diligently, your song should work out well with your congregation. You would also be a lot more convinced about the song yourself and be confident of playing it live. Take time to teach it, reprise it at the end of the meeting/service, use it again in the next few weeks and then gauge its effectiveness in church worship.

      What's next

      All of the above steps are useful to get your song truly ready, if you're planning to record a proper demo of your song too. Otherwise you might end up burning the song and your money!

      If you're an independent artist, a song that's come through these steps would be a great choice for your next recording project. If you hold a recording contract, then your publisher would also be happier with songs that have been tested and found effective.

      As a songwriter, don't rush this process and kill your song—patience always leads to better songs!

      Hope you found these tips useful. How have you introduced yours songs to your congregation? Why not share your top tips in the comments?

      Image: http://pixabay.com/

      5 Foolproof Steps to Introduce Your Own Worship Songs to the World

      By Gangai Victor →