Matthew Smith & "Can't Help Myself"

Matthew Smith was in Crystal Lake, IL last night and thanks to some generous church members my family was able to go. I've known of Matthew and Indelible Grace for a long time, and preached at Michael Spencer's (iMonk) school in 2006 alongside Matthew's worship leading. What's remarkable about Matthew is that he sounds as good or better live than his recordings. There's nothing wrong with his recordings. His voice is just true and rich. His music fills our house often, especially on Sunday mornings.

If you don't know Matthew, introduce yourself by checking out his albums All I Owe or Watch the Rising Day. Here's Matthew playing "Reedemed, Restored, Forgiven."

And let me add a video to the opening song from his concert last night. It's really the one song that's stuck in my head from last night. It's not a video from the concert or a recording by Matthew. It's Sandra McCracken from In Feast or Fallow with "Can't Help Myself." Just beautiful. Loved Matthew's version a lot. Lyrics are below and if you don't know the song I encourage you to follow along.

"Can't Help Myself"

I confess the things I am afraid of:
thorns and danger just around the bend
I pray for tongues of fire and bands of angels
to come and circle 'round me like a fence
I lift my eyes to the hills, where comes my help?
I lift my hands--empty hands--I can't help myself
I can't help myself; no, I can't help myself

My enemies surround me like an army--
within, without, the battle's raging on
I pray the Spirit will be strong and mighty
for courage through the night until the dawn
I lift my eyes to the hills, where comes my help?
I lift my hands--empty hands--I can't help myself
I can't help myself; no, I can't help myself

Oh trust the Lord--my soul and all that is in me--
oh trust the light to show your darkest parts
With wounds of truth and love, a friend who has known me;
a fool would keep his secrets in his heart
I lift my eyes to the hills; here comes my help
I lift my hands--empty hands--I can't help myself
I can't help myself, can't help myself
Can't help myself; no, I can't help myself; I can't help myself

Giveaway: Restoration Project


I'm currently preaching a series of sermons using great, old hymns as the illustration for my exposition of a passage of Scripture. So when I see something like Restoration Project's Kickstarter campaign, I want to help. From their campaign...

We're a songwriting and recording collective dedicated to writing new hymns and restoring old, taking old hymn texts and poems and writing new music and melodies for them.

With your help, we can create our next, very special album series together! Remember: Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing funding platform (we need to reach our goal).

The "Firm Foundation" series will be a two-album collection of Sunday School hymns with new arrangements and lyrics. Our fresh approach to these songs will give them greater theological depth and clarity and a modern musical feel. Great care is also being taken to preserve most of the original melodies.

I've been listening to their other albums and I really dig them. This is a project worth supporting. In order to help them get the word out on this Kickstarter campaign, I'm giving away 5 sets of their two albums for downloadRestoration Project and Hail the Cross, Our Only Hope. Even if you don't want the albums, please consider sharing the link that their project might get fully supported. 

And please, consider giving. Become a backer.

Here's how you can win these two albums...

1. Post to Twitter, Facebook, etc this without the arrows -->  Restoration Project is remaking hymns. Get their 2 albums FREE. RT & comment here to enter: http://bit.ly/resproj <--

2. Comment below so I know you did step one. And for fun share your favorite Sunday School hymn.

I'll use random.org to choose five winners at the end of the week. May the odds be ever in your favor!

Giveaway: Stephen Miller Book & Album

All hail

Heyo! It's a super-happy Music Monday here at Reformissionary because I have stuff to give away to some of my readers. 

Stephen Miller (Twitter) is worship leader at The Journey church in St. Louis, where Darrin Patrick is pastor. He has written a new book, Worship Leaders, We Are Not Rock Stars (Kindle) and put out a new worship album, All Hail The King. The album includes new worship songs as well as reworked Hymns like "Crown Him With Many Crowns." I've been listening to the album and enjoying it a lot. His new albums and  previous album, Hymns, is on regular rotation in my house.

I have 5 of the Worship Leaders, We Are Not Rock Stars eBooks (epub, mobi, or PDF) to give away today that each include a free download of the album

Here's how you enter to win a FREE eBook that includes a free download of the album...

1. Tweet (or post to Facebook if you aren't on Twitter, or do both!) without the quote marks: " Get Stephen Miller's new worship album & book FREE. RT & comment at Reformissionary to enter: http://bit.ly/14xLgfb "

2. Comment below (so I can confirm you did step 1) with your real name and real email (kept private) and FOR FUN in your comment let me know a neglected old hymn that you love and wish would get consideration from Stephen or someone else for a future worship album. 

*I'll use random.org to pick the 5 winners tonight, and I'll announce the winners on the blog & send out emails. May the odds be ever in your favor!

Bifrost Arts | Come O Spirit for FREE

The Bifrost Arts conference, The Cry Of The Poor: A Conference About Worship, Community, & Mercy, is coming up in April in Philadelphia. To get your attention (and this should do it) they are giving away their excellent worship album, Come O Spirit. IT ENDS TODAY. Please grab it while you can. I think you'll love it. I do. And consider going to the conference. Early registration discounts end this week!

Sojourn Live | Come Ye Sinners

Our friends at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY who have put out some of the great, new, creative worship music of the last several years now have released Come Ye Sinners, a live album. Along with that, you can get all other Sojourn albums for $5. So it's a good time to fill in what's missing in your Sojourn Music catalog as well as to pick up their new offering.Sojourn live

Giveaway | Stephen Miller: Hymns

Hymns header

WINNERS! We have our five winners.

Jacob Young
Danny Poyner
Matthew Robbins
Joshua Crabb
Richard Campeau

Congrats guys! Email coming soon.

By the way, the total number of songs on my iTunes is 14,045. Closest, I believe, was WhyArtwork.com with 13,856. How's that for a free plug for your website! :)


One of the great joys I get as an audiophile with a blog is the opportunity to get some great albums before they release. Since it's better to give than receive, I especially LOVE the opportunity some artists give me to give away their albums.

Stephen Miller, worship leader at The Journey church in St. Louis, releases his new album, Hymns, Tuesday. But I'm giving away 5 digital downloads today! Yeah, five.

It's already getting regular play in my house. Miller gives accessible music updates to several beloved hymns like "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty," "I Surrender All," "How Deep the Father's Love For Us," and "Be Thou My Vision." He also offers his versions of "Behold the Throne of God Above" and "In Christ Alone." For good measure he adds "Kyrie, Eleison." There are a total of eleven songs. It's a solid offering to the growing list of young artists making good worship music. It's good for my soul and will be a blessing for my church.

Here's how you enter to win a FREE download...

1. Tweet (or post to Facebook if you aren't on Twitter, or do both!) without the quote marks: " Want to download Stephen Miller's album, Hymns, free? RT & comment at Reformissionary to enter: http://bit.ly/T3FNbJ "

2. Comment below (so I can confirm you did step 1) with your real name and real email (kept private) and For Fun guess the exactly number of songs iTunes says I have. It's more than 1 and less than 20,000. 

*I'll use random.org to pick the 3 winners sometime after 5pm, and I'll announce the winners on the blog & send out emails. May the odds be ever in your favor!

A Hymn to the Holy Ghost

From George Whitefield's A Collection of Hymns for Social Worship...

A Hymn to the Holy Ghost

(Extracted from the Ordination-Office.)

COME HOLY GHOST, our Souls inspire,
And lighten with Celestial Fire.
Thou the anointing Spirit art,
Who dost the sev’nfold Gifts impart.
Thy blessed Unction from above
Is Comfort, Life, and Fire of Love,
Enable with perpetual Light
The Dullness of our blinded Sight.
Anoint and cheer our soiled Face,
With the Abundance of thy Grace.
Keep far our Foes, give Peace at Home!
Where thou art Guide no Ill can come.
Teach us to know the FATHER, SON,
And thee, of both to be, but One;
That through the Ages all along
This, this may be our endless Song;

Praise GOD, from whom all Blessings flow,
Praise Him all Creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host,

The Story Volume 2 | FREE from Soma

One of the great discoveries from my time just prior to and during Soma School was the Story of God, or Story-Formed Way, that Soma teaches. It was, for me, life-changing. It's something we are working through at Doxa starting in a few weeks.

Set to themes and teachings in the Story-Formed Way, Soma has offered for some time now The Story Volume 1 at "name your price" rates, meaning donation or free. I'm excited to share with my readers that The Story Volume 2 is now out, and is also for donation or free! I've just started listening to it and I'm already loving this album and the way it triggers in me a love for God's Story.

I embedded it below so you can listen to it here and click to download and/or share it. Would love to see many others embed this on their blogs so this gospel-saturated Story can be in the hands of many others.

Wayfarer: The River

If you like Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes, or just like indie music and great melodies and harmonies, you should check out 5 free songs from Wayfarer below. I got one of those "Hey, can you check out our music" sort of emails, which I get a lot. Most of that stuff just doesn't work for me. This does. It really, really works.

Wayfarer creates "repurposed hymns and spiritual songs," or as Dan of Wayfarer told me, these are "old and beautiful lyrics, entirely re-written." All I know is that into my second listen through and I'm enjoying it enough to stop other important things to tell you about it. Download for free, right now...

The Followers Deserve a Following

The following

My friends Bryan Lilly & Brent Thomas introduced me to The Followers. Brent had helpful thoughts at his blog, so I'll let him do the talking...

Featuring Josh White of Telecast and Eric Earley of Blitzen Trapper and based out of Door of Hope Church in Portland, OR, the band strives to “to create a 70′s infused worship experience” which they call “neo-gospel.” Drawing on a folky, alt. country/blues/soul foundation, the group has created songs that are not only creatively challenging but singable; a balance not easily struck. While there are hints of Telecast and Blitzen Trapper, The Followers have presented an album with a unified, cohesive sound. Being retro without being nostalgic or gimmicky, The Followers intertwined several strands of roots music into something both comfortable and challenging.

There is a theme of experiential relationship with Jesus throughout which is enhanced by the urgency of some of the arrangements. Drawing on the blues and soul traditions, The Followers have created an album in which the music drives home the words. Truth about Jesus isn’t just meant to be understood but experienced. If our music isn’t passionate, why would anyone trust that we really believe the words we sing?

This is an album I’m definitely looking forward to spending more time with.

If the name Josh White rings a bell for my blog readers, it's probably because of this post about Josh and Door of Hope's "Church in the Park" open-air meeting in Portland.

Check out Wounded Healer, and go download it for free or donate a bunch to their work...

Soma School: Aaron Spiro

Many of you know that I've been gone for a week at Soma School in Tacoma, Washington. I'm probably going to have several posts coming to share my experiences, what I learned, resources, etc. Never experienced anything like it. I wanted to start with a few resources from Aaron Spiro, the worship leader at Soma Communities. He served us well and serves Tacoma well.

Name Your Price (or FREE!)

Other Albums

If you need more than just my recommendation, watch this..."

Stephen Miller: God & Sinner Reconcile


I get excited thinking about the direction some are taking with worship music. While there's a glut of stuff out there that all sounds the same to me and that I just can't listen to, there's a new breed of creative, biblical/theological worship guys at solid churches who are changing the game. I want to do what I can to encourage the creation of new, good worship music. Some of the music I've pointed to before includes Sojourn, Bifrost Arts, Aaron Ivey, Joe Day, Page CXVI, and others. Today I want to introduce you to someone who may be new to you.

Stephen Miller, worship leader at The Journey church in St. Louis, has a new worship album out today: God & Sinner Reconcile. I've been enjoying it for a couple of weeks. It's entered the rotation of music for personal worship as well as what we listen to on Sunday morning as a family before gathering with the church. I've also shared it with our worship leaders. I hope many of my readers will check it out and pick it up.

Check out Stephen Miller's websiteFacebook page, and Twitter feed. Then grab a copy of God & Sinner Reconcile. It's only $6.99!

Sojourn | A Child Is Born


I'm a huge Sojourn Music fan because I like their music and the rich content of their songs. More than that, I love their music because I love their focus on the Gospel as a church. They are friends and one of my favorite churches around.

I've given a couple of listens to Sojourn Community Church's new Christmas album, A Child Is Born. My word for this album would be "challenging." It's challenging to your ears as it's anything but a typical Christmas album. It's not even close. Their version of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" is "punk-rock inspired," "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is poppy, as is "Silent Night." Some of the more subdued and lovely moments on the album are from lesser known lyrics retooled. I love the voices that are now very familiar to me: Brooks Ritter, Jamie Barnes, Megan Shaffer & others. They are always a joy to hear again on new projects. The cover design is lovely and simple.

In many ways, this isn't supposed to be an easy album to hear. From Sojourn's website...

There’s a place for joy, a necessary and central place for celebration, but that joy and celebration has it’s most weight when seen in the context of the suffering and longing from which it emerges. So Christmas music at Sojourn has always had a dark edge, a sense of tension and angst, which points us to the darkness of our own hearts that longs for the light of Christ.

For me, A Child Is Born is an odd album. Taking the familiar and making it unfamiliar. Taking songs typically wrapped in seasonal sounds and re-wrapping them in something unseasonal and unusual. It may not be an easy album for you to like, though I've heard from many who are liking it a lot! Sojourn takes some serious risks in genre and style that will shake your Christmas world. But you will have to be the judge if this darker, grittier version of Christmas is something that will be in your rotation year by year. If nothing else, Sojourn for me has earned a listen as they continue to make music in service of the Church that is out of the ordinary.

Buy A Child is Born: Amazon or for $5 at Grouptune

Also check out: Over the Grave | The Water & The Blood

Austin Stone Live

Austin stone live

After attending the first Verge Conference at The Austin Stone, I became a fan of Aaron Ivey (@AaronIvey) and his album, Between the Beauty & Chaos. It's one of the most played worship albums on my iPod and in my house. Then at the recent Together for Adoption Conference in Phoenix I met (several times... inside joke) Jimmy McNeal (@JimmyMcSings), who should have a worship album releasing next year. Loved the times of corporate worship led by Jimmy and the songs he brought.

So when I heard a new Austin Stone Live album was on the way, featuring Aaron & Jimmy, I was excited to hear it. Today I've been streaming the recording of their live concert from last night. It includes some songs from T4A Conference, and I'm really enjoying it. Watch it here. Buy it at iTunes.