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Album Review – Christopher Williams, “We Will Remember”

Center for Congregational Song, David Calvert, Album Review

The Context

Over his two-decade career, singer/songwriter Christopher Williams has played with the likes of Jars of Clay, Phil Keaggy, and David Wilcox. Williams is located in Nashville, and this most recent record is his 12th full-length album. “We Will Remember: Songs Inspired by the Book of Joel” is a different project for him, however, in that it was written in community (with several co-writers) with a very specific focus. This album is the musical accompaniment to The Millennial Narrative by Jaco Hamman and is a deep dive into the themes of the book of Joel. Williams’ goal is to contextualize the themes of both books, giving resonance to grief, lament, and celebration in and of community.

 

The Content

In addition to the albums two specific anchors: The Millennial Narrative and the book of Joel, Williams has accompanying notes that give explanatory context for each of the songs on this album. The lyrical themes of remembrance, mourning, hope, and community are very prominent, and the phrasing is consistent with Williams’ singer/songwriter roots. This album contains several songs that would set the table for the Lord’s Supper in their focus on the blessings of community. Musically, the piano and acoustic guitar are the foundation for the clear and memorable melodies, so these songs could be adapted without much difficulty for a local church context with one of those instruments able to lead. Songs are already pitched relatively well for an average congregation to sing, and the harmonies layered in tastefully would be adaptable. There are several moments of ensemble vocal parts or choral backing vocals that certainly lend toward congregational singing.

Notable songs include: “I Cannot Know You,” which reminds the church that we need each other in order to know God; “Remember and Proclaim,” which references Hamman who claims, “we awaken hope when we remember and proclaim”; and the very sing-able title track, “We Will Remember.”

 

The Conclusion

Although the specificity of this album serving as soundtrack to a book and adapting a specific biblical text might lean toward limited application, there are broad themes that expand the usefulness of this album in a local church context. The core ideas of community, confession, and hope would be resonant in any church. Definitely consider this album if your church is walking through Joel or any prophetic text, but consider as well how this album might serve a church reflecting on the formative power of authentic community.

 

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Review provided by David Calvert, who is the Creative Arts Director for Grace Community Church in rural North Carolina and a PhD graduate in Theology and Worship from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

 

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