Previously I expressed my concerns with Gospel music and the ironic absence of the Gospel in much of it. I used Israel and New Breed as a case study. I also said that the leader of the group, Israel Houghton, has written some very good songs, though he has also written songs that have perpetuated the prosperity ideology (I can’t call it Gospel).
Nonetheless, to show that I’m not a hater, I did want to recommend his band’s Christmas project, A Timeless Christmas. If I can say anything positive about them, it is their unbelievable creativity and professionalism musically. Musically, these guys are just crazy. Of course, I know that there is more to it than music, but for someone who plays guitar and knows the lack of effort in much of “worship” music, as if three chords are the only way to glorify God (stepping off of my soapbox…), I admire a group that seeks a multicultural sound that only heightens their constant focus on the global mission of God (“prosperity” aside).
The CD also has a timeless feel to it. If I can be a little sentimental, it reminded me of the many Christmas moments with my family and with my extended family. Having guys like Ron Winans (“By Christmas Day”) definitely adds to that effect. The soulful sound works well alongside the souped-up “Nutcracker Overture”, African sounds of “Least of These” (featuring Jonathan Butler), and the strangely Thriller-esque “O Come” (I’m not kidding).
What I also love about this CD is their inclusion of the “Christmas Worship Medley”. If I can be a little honest, I find it hard to get through that track unmoved. Christmas is a cause for worship, much like every day, because the Christ has indeed come, and he has indeed redeemed!
So though I do not recommend all of his songs, I think that Israel does a good job with this Christmas project. I just pray that he will write more songs that exalt the truth about God and the Gospel, and that he will continue to stretch our concepts of how worship “sounds”.