by: Drew Causey
There are few worship songwriters that bring more artistry and creativity to their craft than the musical collective Gungor. Since their multiple Grammy-nominated album “Beautiful Things”, I have been more and more taken aback by the complexity and nuance of Gungor’s music, and their latest album, “Ghosts Upon the Earth,” still knocks me back when I listen to it. I believe this album is a game-changer in the worship scene, and for the sake of brevity, I will only give you four reasons why:
- Your average worship team can’t replicate it, though they will want to try. In my first listening to this album, I was first struck by how profoundly musical this album is, especially in comparison to many of the songs that the church sings today. The chordal structures are complex and colorful. The metric feels change, and have a lot of odd breaks, intersections, and juxtapositions. The musicians are prolific, and their abilities are unleashed on every track. It is intelligent, intentional art and not just “worship music”, and like great art, the experience of it calls creatives to create afresh. See “You Are The Beauty.
- The Gospel it proclaims begins in Genesis 1, not Genesis 3. The great story of Salvation begins with creation, not the fall; so too, our identity as humans roots much more deeply in the imago dei than even the tragic bend of our sinful inheritance. Gungor celebrates the wonder and mystery of creation and life as gifts from the Creator through a profound joy in being alive, in God as the source and sustainer of life, and in the relationship we have as creatures with the One who “made it all, and made it beautiful.” See “Brother Moon” and “Crags and Clay”.
- Oboes and Banjoes. If your worship team at your church is anything like mine, the instrumentation you find week to week is predictable: piano or organ, guitars and drums for the contemporary crowd, perhaps some loops if you have someone into programming. Everything contemporary ends up sounding like a blend of U2, Coldplay, and Jesus. Gungor, however, uses a wide range of instruments throughout this album, and in doing so, makes room for a muchneeded rethinking of what it means to utilize musicians of many walks in the musical aspects of your services. See “When Death Dies”, then see it again live. Wow.
- “Ezekiel”. Based on Ezekiel 16, this song articulates salvation history through the deeply intimate and heartbreaking imagery of infidelity. This song talks about things we would never choose to sing about in church, and that is why it’s so important to highlight: there are aspects of Scripture that we need to sing about, even if we don’t want to. Gungor tackles this passage with sensitivity and deep conviction that the best thing for the worshipping people is to hear the heart of God, even when it is most convicting to us.