Today one of my favourite bands, Page CXVI released a new album: Lent to Maundy Thursday. From their website: “Page CXVI is a project started with the idea of making Hymns accessible and known again. They are some of the richest, most meaningful, and moving pieces of music ever written.”
However you define the word “hymn” and whatever you think of the dismally named “worship wars” – whether you wish the church would blow off some cobwebs and communicate more effectively in this generation, or whether you feel current music is vapid and lacks the depth of music that has stood the test of time (I stand, by the way, on both sides of that argument) – Page CXVI is doing beautiful things with the time-worn poetry of the church.
Lent to Maundy Thursday is comprised of 7 tracks:
- And Can It Be that I Should Gain
- Before the Throne of God Above
- Were You There? (which includes pieces of O the Deep Deep Love of Jesus)
- Fast From, Feast On
- This Blessed Day
- I Love the Lord
The album, over all, is brighter than I expected. Often, when we think of Lent, we think of darkness – of confession and withholding. What Page CXVI has done here is focus on the often passed-over brightness that Lent contains. We confess, yes, but we do so without despair – knowing that forgiveness is readily available. The album fastens on the concept that Lent is not just about fasting – it is also about feasting. This is captured especially well in my favourite song on the album “Fast From, Feast On.” Fasting is never solely about withholding and taming the passions. We fast so that we can feast on other things that are too often forgotten. So we abstain from something that eats up our time, so that we can instead spend time consuming the word. We fast from sweet things, so that we can meditate on the sweetness of Christ’s sacrifice. There is always a so that. Consider the lyrics of “Fast From, Feed On”:
Fast from the swelling darkness, Feast on the power of his light. Fast from discontentment, Feast on the joy that he brings.
Sustainer, Protector, the Well of Life. My Helper, My comfort, the bread of life is you.
Fast from the fear that haunts us, Feast on the power of his might. Fast from the trap of judgment, Feast on all that’s been redeemed!
From the sorrow’s shadow to perfect light. From the darkness of our doubt to a cleansing white. From the sorrow’s shadow to perfect light. From the blindness of our sin to healing sight.
It’s a beautiful set of contrasts and it encapsulates Lent with depth and power.
I have one reservation about this album that I should mention, which is Page CXVI’s version of “Were You There?” (which is combined with O the Deep Deep Love of Jesus). Somehow this rendition misses the mark for me. At first I thought the arrangement was too joyful for words like “Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?” But in talking it through with Andrew, I realized it’s something more than this: the music is too light, too frivolous for the depth of the words sung and it creates – for us at least – too grating a juxtaposition. This is a big miss, because the combination of these two songs, lyrically, is brilliant. I wish the music had the same weight.
The rest of the album, however, holds enough beauty and weight to counterbalance this one miss – so don’t let my opinion about one song hold you back from the album as a whole. I will certainly listen to this album throughout this season of Lent, as a launching pad for my fasting and feasting during this blessed walk through darkness and into light.
Over all this is a beautiful album that I heartily recommend to you. You can listen to the full album here. Buy it on Page CXVI’s website, or on Amazon, or on iTunes. There are also (Praise God!) chord charts provided on their website.
This album was graciously provided to me by Page CXVI for the purpose of review – with the understanding that I was free to express my full opinion regarding the music it contains.