David Lyle Morris’s newest album, released on March 12, is pregnant with promise.
He’s written the 14 tracker to encourage the listener to promise to spend more devotional time with God, and filled it with music with is overflowing with God’s promises of grace and love.
Morris, who has spent three years on this project, recently told Challenge Weekly the album had “a very intimate acoustic guitar emphasis; it is more like having me in your lounge, this kind of intimacy rather than the big live worship which some of my other albums have”. Such intimacy, it seems, was discovered by the likes of legendary blues musician Eric Clapton more than a decade ago when he recorded his Unplugged album and sparked a whole series of albums by artists abandoning the big band sound for the acoustic guitar.
Morris, in taking such an approach and adding just a few other instruments to the mix, has come up with a very gentle album which had me turning the volume up so as not to miss any nuance as I listened while I drove.
Of the 14 songs The Stolen Years, inspired by Joel 2, resonated with me the most because it offered such hope. Then, I discovered a hand written note from Morris on the envelope in which the CD had arrived. “Track 3, Stolen Years, a good one for Christchurch – God can restore!” It included God saying, in its chorus: “I will repay the stolen years, soothing balm for all your fears/Wipe away every tear/I will restore the wasted years, sweetest music to your ears/Through the gloom, light appears”. And one of the choruses includes the wonderful guarantee: “Everyone, call on the name of the Lord and be saved”.
The first track, Glory to the God of Grace and Truth, introduces the listener to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is followed by Be Exalted, Father, in which Morris adapts lyrics from an A.W. Tozer poem to praise the trinity. You Are Good Lord follows The Stolen Years and compares Christians to “trees planted by the water” in a time of drought.
If you thought George Matheson’s hymn O Love That Will Not Let Me Go, written in 1882, was moving try Morris’ adaptation. Matheson said of the hymn: “It was the quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the impression of having it dictated to me by some inward voice rather than of working it out myself. I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in five minutes, and equally sure that it never received at my hands any retouching or correction. I have no natural gift of rhythm. All the other verses I have ever written are manufactured articles; this came like a dayspring from on high.” Morris’s version is quietly contemplative.
O Lord You Are Our God is a reflection on Isaiah 25, Embracing on Joshua 22. Dancing In Heaven was written for the funeral of Jane Peters, a family friend who had multiple sclerosis. Good Shepherd puts to music Jesus’s promise to lay his life down for his sheep. For Such A Time As This reflects on Morris’s time of ministry in Finland.
Change Me was written for Morris’s baptism, in England, in 1986. Your Kindness Calls Us To Repentance speaks for itself, as does Harvest Fields of Finland where Morris obviously had so many God times. Holy Spirit of God, which closes this album, is a benediction of types as it asks “Holy Spirit of God, fall upon us”.
This is, indeed, a beautiful album.
***** Reviewed by Chris Gardner – Challenge Weekly NZ March 2011