When I was in middle school, David Crowder led worship at our youth group’s winter retreat. I remember being drawn to this lanky guy with wild hair and a wilder goatee. He looked like John the Baptist in flannel and blue jeans. His worship music was part of my Bible-belt evangelical upbringing.
But as I grew up and left for college, I (like many people that age) got cynical. I was still a believer—I was just suspicious of the emotional side of worship and much more comfortable with the life of the mind. That’s why it was such a relief to discover the David Crowder Band’s 2005 album A Collision. It’s most definitely a worship album, but the whole thing (all 21 tracks!) is a unified narrative. It works its way through the spectrum of the human encounter with God. There is love and adoration, gratefulness, desperation, anger, longing, doubt. In that way, it’s like the book of Psalms. The music also winds across time and sound, featuring negro spirituals, bluegrass revival hymns, acoustic worship songs, and fully-produced rock tunes.
I didn’t know it at the time, but this enigmatic album from this Baptist band from Waco was leading to an appreciation of liturgy.
Which is why—now older and confirmed as an Anglican—it was such a joy to run into the band’s final album, Give Us Rest. After a couple of perfectly nice albums that fell short of the grandeur of A Collision, the band left with a two-disc, 34 track requiem mass (a service given for the repose of souls, most often associated with funerals). The intentional, liturgical impulses of the work are obvious, but even more impressive is the album’s ecumenical grounding. Give Us Rest draws on the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and American evangelical traditions to arrive at something that feels unified and right. It’s a winding, difficult album, to be sure, with variety and experimentation in the arrangements. Yet it begins and ends with simplicity—we first hear the sound of footsteps walking into a church and we are left with the Bill Gaither’s classic gospel song, “Because He Lives.”
I’m not a music buff by any stretch of the imagination. But these two albums, and all of David Crowder’s work, has helped traced the arc of my spiritual journey that has led me here to Restoration Anglican Church. If you haven’t already, give them a nice, long listen.