Reviewed by Heather R.
Stand by Michael W. Smith
"Contains a mix of calls to action, confessions of private worship, and anthems for corporate praise."
Michael W. Smith’s latest CD is aimed squarely at the church. Containing a mix of calls to action, confessions of private worship, and anthems for corporate praise, Stand is written for believers. No crossover tunes here, not even for country radio. This is not a bad thing, because music for believers has its place. We’re not only commanded to preach the gospel but also to make disciples. This is disciple-making music.
Stand is also a complete package. The design reflects the music and the message. Simple and straightforward.
The cover is a plain soft blue panel with MWS’s name centered in black and the title in white directly beneath. A white flame rises above the words with a human silhouette standing in the heart of the flame. The white of the flame draws the eye up from the white of the word “Stand.” Does this represent the Holy Spirit standing in our hearts? Or us standing in the power of the Holy Spirit?
Listen to the CD for the musical answers.
The best call to action comes late in the collection. “In Silence,” is one of the rockier tunes, which befits the impassioned declaration to not sit in silence while someone in trouble weeps in our presence. I can’t decide which is the best private confessional. It’s between “Grace,” which admits that we’re nothing without Him or “Be Lifted High,” which desires that people see the Lord lifted high and not ourselves.
Worship leaders will be glad to add “Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful” to reflective times of corporate worship. But they’ll want to get things off to a rousing start with the foot-tapping, arm-raising guitar anthem “The Stand!”
Not incidentally “Cover Me” and “Escape Your Love” are the first and the last songs on the CD, a positioning that embraces the listener within the comforting promises of God’s enduring faithfulness. These are songs that speak to believers struggling with sin or spiritual dryness.
If you want to share MWS’s latest CD with nonbelievers, the gospel message is here in songs like “Come to the Cross” and “Come and See.” But these songs can also speak to believers who have drifted away and need to be reminded of the powerful reasons to return.
All the arrangements on this CD are simple, too, mostly keyboard and percussion with occasional guitar and backup vocals. No soaring strings or grand orchestral accompaniments here. The medium is the message.
I actually misspoke when I said there are no crossover tunes. “How to Say Goodbye” could definitely receive airplay on country stations, especially around graduation day, because it is the emotional confession of a parent trying to learn how to let his children grow up and fly away. The fact that it is co-written by Mrs. Vince Gill may also give it consideration.
A final note of interest: I wrote this review before reading the liner notes, and I described some of these songs as “calls to action.” MWS has a different take, so I’ll let him have the last word on his music: “‘Stand’ isn’t so much a ‘call to action’ as it is a ‘call to respond.’ As we daily understand more about His immeasurable love for us – we stand in awe of the one who gave it all.”
Heather R. Hunt is a business editor in Connecticut. For fun she reads, writes, cheers on the Red Sox, and enjoys tennis and cycling. She also co-leads a local tea party and enjoys holding government officials and media outlets accountable. Check out her blogs, The View from Stonewater and Connecticut for Sarah Palin.