Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Glorious Inheritance: Audrey Assad's Latest Work

Audrey Assad's Fortunate Fall was one of my favorite albums of last year and now her latest effort, Inheritance, will easily be one of this year's. I love that even before I'd heard a single track off this CD, I read that she described it as "A soundtrack for prayer." How many other contemporary musical artists create that kind of music?

Or how many would start off their album with "Ubi Caritas" the hymn of the Western Church as one of the antiphons for the washing of feet on Maundy Thursday?

But Audrey Assad is like no other artist (and she is an Artist) - and for that I am grateful because she brings a spirit to music seldom heard. Gentleness amidst the chaos and noise one is bombarded with on the radio. Her albums also show a deep richness from the growth of her spiritual journey. It comes from both the valleys and the mountain tops.

It's astounding to hear "Holy, Holy, Holy," "Be Thou My Vision" or "It Is Well" which I have heard hundreds of times and sung nearly as many in the plethora of church traditions I grew up in and yet these feel personal, original, and cause me to listen to them afresh. She draws you in with her gorgeous voice and you find yourself also drawing inward, as one does in prayer.

One of the hymns that many may not be as familiar with, but the title of which resembles my own spiritual journey, is "I Wonder As I Wander." I grew up hearing the one recorded by Julie Andrews and was played only at Christmas. The first time I listened to her recording, I got chills in the same way I did hearing the priests sing their vespers in Saint Andrews in Kyiv that snowy night we wandered in.

Of this album, Audrey has said:

I knew that Inheritance had to be much more than me going into the studio and
simply doing pretty renditions of hymns we all know and love. I couldn't be satisfied
with that - I had to make something both bright and dark - colored honestly with my
own doubts and weaknesses, so that the Lord who inspired these songs could be even 
more visible in it. Inheritance is an offering I am humbled, privileged and challenged
to make - and I pray it will be a gift to anyone who hears it.

Indeed it is. A true gift that shows her vulnerability before God, which is unfamiliar territory in most contemporary Christian music. Because of this, she brings a depth seldom heard. While at the same time she stays true to the hymns and in their truth her voice comes through with a strength and clarity that is how worship should be. It makes us remember that we are worshipping a holy God and that we approach him as we are, with all of our doubts and desires, with fear and trembling, but offering all that we have on His altar. As Romans 12:1 tells us, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship." One hears her offering her voice and herself in each of these hymns and it is glorious and glorifying to God.

The power of hymns is their ability to bring a spirit of peace, gratitude and awe; Assad connects with that and helps us to connect in spirit, heart, and mind as we listen. She called this album a "soundtrack for prayer" and there are those who don't understand just how truthful that phrase really is. Lorenzo Candelaria wrote about the subject for the Huffington Post: Indeed, praying through music allows us to express our highest calling - to worship and praise God - in a way that no other art can.

Certainly Inheritance allows us to do just that.

Here are two beautiful videos for two of the tracks off this CD:

This is the link to her official website:

You can pre-order the album off of either iTunes or Amazon. It comes out February 12th. 

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