Great music can be some of the most beautiful art, and Christianity is in great need of more of it today. It’s no secret that in contemporary music the Catholic Church is not at its high mark. Personally, I think that Gregorian chant from the Traditional Latin Mass is hard to beat, but I also believe that well executed contemporary Christian music can be just as powerful to the average person of today.
The band of one of the most famous protestant residents of the Diocese of Austin just released an album that perked my attention when I first heard about the theme. The Waco-based, David Crowder Band’s newly released Give us Rest or (a Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys]) album is definitely worth some attention beyond its cumbersome title and into its surprising contents.
The 34 track album crosses multiple genres from rock to bluegrass, mixed in with elements of chant that even includes Latin and Greek. Every track on this album may not be to your taste, but chances are that there’s something you will enjoy.
From track 1 to 34, the album takes you on a spiritual journey of emotional highs and lows that naturally surround a mass for a dead loved one. In a world where the word requiem has become associated with elements not even close to religious, David Crowder Band’s album goes through each part of the funeral liturgy and respectfully does their own artistic interpretation of the mass parts. I am also happy to note that Matt Maher, a faithful Catholic artist, did help write some of the songs.
The Introit, Lux Atream, Kyrie Eleison (including the Greek and in 3s), Gradual, Tract, Sequence 1-7 (each in their own style and including Dies Irae), 2 Reprises, Offertory (Domine Jesu), Sanctus, Great Amen, Agnus Dei, Pie Jesu, a communion song, Libera Me, and In Paradisum are all part of the album. True to the funeral liturgy, the Gloria, Credo, and Alleluia are left out of this musical setting. Of course, they did take some artistic license with their approach, so you probably won’t ever hear this mass in its entirety in a real Roman Catholic liturgy.
David Crowder himself has not crossed the Tiber and converted to Roman Catholicism, but despite that, the band has produced one of the most beautiful modern reflections on the funeral liturgy that I’ve ever heard. There are some songs that are snuck in between some of the mass parts, but they serve the reflection well as they convey the emotions many of us feel during those parts of the mass.
David Crowder speaks fairly opening about the inspirations they had for this album. He speaks of the importance and centrality of the Eucharist, hope in the mass, and the promise of salvation. I must admit that all of those things sound really Catholic to come from a Protestant, and that brings me so much joy.
I pray that the distribution of this music can open the eyes of more of our Protestant brothers and sisters to the beauty of the mass, especially as different music leaders begin to introduce congregations to songs inspired by the penitential rite.
Works like these could really help ecumenical relations, and I pray that someday more of the musical talent from our Protestant friends can someday be used to promote the fullness of Truth within the Church. The Catholic Church is here when you’re ready to come over.
This is David Crowder Band’s last album, and they definitely held nothing back. Mozart’s (unfinished) Requiem is usually the first one that comes to mind, and he also wrote one of the most popular Masses in C [the happiest of all keys]. I think that the musical quality and depth may not exactly be Mozart, but it is definitely among some of the best contemporary Christian music. Where Mozart captures the pain in loss and the majesty of God, David Crowder Band captures the hope for joy and the power of God’s love.
While the reflection on death corresponds with the end of the David Crowder Band, they don’t forget to keep it focused on Jesus Christ and the promise of heaven. There is joy in uncertainty because we know that God is in control, and death should not scare a Christian because of the hope of salvation.
We all know the weird antics on a keytar and the long beard first come off as strange, but their music transcends the physical and can lead you into personal prayer. Goodbye David Crowder Band and thank you for such a beautiful gift of music.