Essay / Theology

Sometimes a Light Surprises: Songs of Grace

sometimes a light cropped closeMy home church, Grace EvFree, maketh music.

Yea verily, we make music most plentifully, and every now and then it overflows our own local church’s culture and takes the form of albums that can be shared more widely. The musicians at Grace have just released their fourth album, Sometimes a Light  Surprises. Click through to stream it free, and if you want to buy it you’ll see links there for Bandcamp and iTunes.

The overall sound of this collection is more consistently folk-rocky and acoustic than the previous ones. If you’ve downloaded other Songs of Grace offerings, you’ll be greeted again on this one by the very manly voice of Kenny Clark, and you’ll recognize the familiar voices of Mindy Price and Marla Bustad on solos and background vocals. But a lot of the vocals this time are by Torrey Honors alum Caleb Parker and Pearl Botts (he said with considerable pride, as if he had done anything to advance the musical skill of his former students). It’s Caleb’s acoustic sensibilities (guitar, mandolin, banjo, whatever else you got with strings) that give the whole album some of its sonic unity, in fact; and the voice of Pearl Botts is, I don’t know what to say, omnipotently sweet. Check out the track “Very Very Good” if you doubt my hyperbole. By the way, the cover art is by Torrey alum Adria Murphy.

Another Torrey talent is on display in the songwriting on the final track, Jack Franicevich’s “Cross-Hung Life.” It’s a durable piece, with the deep scriptural meditation and poetic freshness characteristic of Franicevich’s work:

O cross-hung life of God made man
Which all my sin did bear
Here Love and Law and Sin collide
And Hope has slain Despair

And Jack’s lyrics had better be good, because on this collection he shares writing credits with Augustus Toplady, William Cowper, Horatius Bonar, and Elvina Hall.

As usual, all of this comes together under the creative vision of Walt Harrah, who is the main reason our church’s music rises to the level of professionalism without drifting from the purpose of worship. Walt wrote several of the songs (check out my current favorites Gracious God and Harvest of God’s Field), and he’s the one who establishes the context for the recovery and celebration of all the older hymns on the album.

For those of us who get to worship along with these musicians every week, the album just sparkles with familiar sounds, all the way down to the bedrock that is the rhythm section. For the rest of the big old internet world, click through and give it a listen. You may find something to add to your playlist.


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