Release Date: December 11th 2015
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Chasing You
- This is Amazing Grace
- You Make Me Brave
- O Taste and See
- You are Good
- Breaking Through
- Deep Cries Out
- This is What You Do
- Ever Be
- One Thing Remains
Bethel Music, like Hillsong, Passion, Jesus Culture and Soul Survivor, have been delivering song after song for the church, and while it may have its avid fans and critics alike, one can’t deny the power worship songs, especially songs by Bethel Music, has when it comes to a song certain to be sung, and enjoyed on a Sunday morning worship service. Residing in Redding, California, Bethel Church, and its musical ministry arm of the church, has ministered to many individuals around the globe over the years, especially with the songs like ‘One Thing Remains’, ‘Furious’, ‘Be Lifted High’, ‘God I Look to You’, ‘Love Came Down’, ‘This is Amazing Grace’ and ‘For the Sake of the World’. Their heart to see heaven invade earth and the things of the eternal to manifest themselves in our lives here and now is evident in every song they compose and sing, and this can certainly be true of their newest album, a best-of tracklist if you will, sung entirely by kids. With this album Come Alive a reminder that it is never too young to declare your passionate intentions for Jesus, Bethel ministries and indeed their songs, have penetrated many churches with their powerful music. I’m sure at least one song in your Sunday setlist is from Bethel (as with at least one song sung on a Sunday from Chris Tomlin too), which is a powerful testimony to the richness of Bethel’s lyrical content in each of the songs that have made an impact throughout the years. Now with songs re-recorded to present a teen/pre-teen approach to the songs, this dance/remix atmosphere of Come Alive is an acquired taste, yet will certainly draw in pre-teen listeners of music, hopefully encouraging them to think about more spiritual things in the upcoming weeks and months ahead. From standout melodies like “Deep Cries Out”, “Ever Be” and “This is Amazing Grace”, to “Chasing You” and “This is What You Do”; Bethel’s new album is a must for anyone who loves Children’s worship music, Bethel, or both!
Scanning through the track list, we immediately see hit songs sung in years gone by, that theoretically make this album a best-of compilation if you will, instead sung by children/pre-teens instead of the original worship leaders. Which is a good thing, as I’m sure Come Alive will attract a lot of listeners within the 8-15 year range, and what better way for younger people to listen to Christian music than to listen to Christian music sung by girls and boys in their own age bracket. While these arrangements are slightly more dance/pop compared to their more worshipful originals, the passion executed within these 11 songs is still very much vibrant and energetic. Originally from For the Sake of the World, “This is What You Do” and “This is Amazing Grace” are reimagined quite nicely, both of them delivered with a looping electronic percussion undertone, and a light keyboard presence, to present not necessarily an overbearing sound, but rather to focus primarily on the vocals of the children- creating a serene sound that’ll hopefully bring in more listeners that are within the 8-15 age group. Sounds like a lot of things to alter and change to bring in a different clientele right? Nevertheless, these arrangements are still enjoyable, even if I myself enjoy the originally recorded songs much more than these arrangements.
Songs like “You are Good”, “Chasing You”, “One Thing Remains” and “Deep Cries Out” have all been hits throughout Bethel Music’s career, and are all included, re-recorded and re-imagined on this children’s compilation. In spite of the fact that these songs are sung by kids, the songs are still quite good. “One Thing Remains” encourages us to declare alongside Bethel that God is the one thing in our lives that stays constant even when everything else around us starts to fall, while “Chasing You” is a longing, from us to God as we chase after Him, all that He is and what He stands for above our own earthly desires. “You Are Good” is an affirmation that God is good all the time, rather than the term ‘sometimes’ that we often believe at various moments in our lives; and “Deep Cries Out” is a call for us to take a step into the unknown, taking the plunge and thereby believing that God calls us out into deep waters, fully knowing that we are to rely on Him during those ‘deep’ moments. Lesser known tracks like “Breaking Through” (previously on Tides), “O Taste and See” (previously on Discover Bethel Music) and “Freedom” (on For the Sake of the World) are very much welcomed on the track list, and while I may have wanted songs like “Come to Me”, “God I Look to You”, “I Love Your Presence”, “Love Came Down” or “Furious” to receive the kids treatment (instead of songs that I myself hardly know), what the album has done right is give us great diversity- songs we know and songs we don’t, even if it is to purely humble us avid Bethel Music lovers, understanding that we may not know every single song there is to know.
“You Make Me Brave”, one of my favourite songs from 2014, is delivered with much poignancy, heart and emotion as lead singer Josie gives us a performance like no other. Originally sung by Canadian singer/songwriter/worship leader Amanda Cook, “You Make Me Brave” is a call for us to rely on God for our braveness, that what we feel or don’t feel is not a determinant in whether we declare ourselves to be brave. With Christ in us, we can boldly assert that ‘…as Your love, in wave after wave crashes over me, crashes over me, for You are for us, You are not against us, champion of Heaven, You made a way for all to enter in…’ Even the accompanying music video is ingenious. Think Michael W. Smith’s video of “Sky Spills Over” meets Carrie Underwood’s “Little Toy Guns” and Carman’s “Great God”. Pretty interesting right? And Bethel Music pull it off quite well. Last but not least is recent hit and possible single “Ever Be”. Recently covered by CCM songstress Natalie Grant on her most recent album Be One, this recent song from We Will Not Be Shaken is a call for us to declare God on our lips no matter what the circumstance, that in every moment and in every season, His ‘…praise will ever be on my lips…’ With both “Ever Be” and “You Make Me Brave” being some of my favourite songs by Bethel in a while (ever since “Come To Me”), these nicely reimagined tracks make me enjoy the songs even more.
This first album from Bethel Kids may set a precedent, it may not. Vocally and musically reminding me of tween bands pureNRG, The Rubyz and Mission 6; Bethel Kids and their target audience of kids/pre-teens are certain to be loved by that particular age group in months to come. Songs need to be recorded for children, and this is exactly what has occurred in this album. While I may not necessarily be their target demographic, I still enjoyed and appreciated the album as a whole, considering I enjoy Bethel Music on a regular basis. Fans of worship music, children’s music, or both, will love Bethel Music Kids and what these 11 tracks bring in terms of music for children. Well done Bethel for branching out. Here’s hoping there’s another Bethel Music Kids’ album in the future.
3 songs to listen to: Ever Be, You Make Me Brave, This is What You Do
RIYL: Jesus Culture, Bethel Music, pureNRG, The Rubyz