In April of 2013, Greater Vision released their new CD For All He’s Done…within it, are some of the most beautiful words you will ever hear.
In a proper review, I’d outline Greater Vision’s history and all the ways their successful career in Southern Gospel Music has had fans sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for this CD to be released. Yet, I would like to use this opening paragraph to outline a different setting…an experience. During the months of March and April I saw Greater Vision twice, between those two concerts (way before this recording was released) I saw GV sing seven of the ten songs live. (That’s more than HALF the record!) Impressed…is an understatement. First of all, it told me something about the songs they recorded. You don’t just sing half the record three months before the CD’s released unless you’re really, really, REALLY are excited about the tunes! Secondly, it told me that each song had an important message (no fillers here!) and thirdly, the songs must really mean something to them to be able to get out there and sing them perfect whenever Gerald randomly shouts, “Lets do another new one!” LOL You won’t find many groups in SGM doing that. Not only is that commendable for them, it’s pure heaven for someone who’s planning on writing a review! There’s nothing like seeing a song performed live for the first time. The anticipation rippling through the audience, the expressions on the singers faces…it all comes together for an unforgettable moment. In those two concerts, I saw these songs minister to folks. I watched people having fun and saw them being blessed. That is the true “test” of whether a project is valuable or not. Trust me, this one passes with flying colors!
The Writers: A good songwriter that can consistently write good lyrics and music is a valuable asset for any group to have on their bus. When a group has two of those writers traveling and singing with them, they’re doubly blessed. For All He’s Done reflects that very thing. After winning the Singing News Fan Award, Favorite Songwriter, for 14 consecutive years – Rodney Griffin keeps penning thought provoking and heart felt songs. Chris Allman himself has written over 200 songs and I believe this project showcases some of his very best. Together, these two writers (along with Jim Brady and Natalie Harp) have composed some of the greatest lyrics you will hear in Gospel Music. On For All He’s Done you’ll hear four songs from Chris, five from Rodney (two co-written with the songwriters listed above) and one classic from Lanny Wolfe.
The Theme: There are so many different angles I could take on the message these lyrics deliver! I believe the major spiritual theme of this project is trust. By listening closely, we’ll find that almost every song talks about trusting the Lord for something; whether it be His care for our needs, a difficult trial He’s leading us through or our personal plans. From the very first track we hear His voice calling us to trust Him no matter what life brings our way. In addition, we could also propose that each song on this CD has the answer to something that everyone will spend their lives searching for. Do you find yourself looking for rest (track 1)? What about grace to get through that hard time (track 2)? We all look for mercy (track 3) and something that will take away our darkest stains (track 4). We all search for assurance that there is hope beyond tomorrow (track 5), for someone who will love us enough to pursue us when we’re lost (track 6), to tell us the truth when we need to hear it (track 7) and trust completely when we don’t know what tomorrow holds (track 8). We search for someone to look out for us (track 9) so when we come to the end of the road, we can look back and see all the things that He’s done for us (track 10). If you’re searching for something, one of these songs will tell you how and where to find it…I guarantee.
The Music: With Lari Goss behind the orchestrations and Gerald Wolfe producing, you know the sound is going to come out consistent with what you would expect from GV, yet new and refreshing. As a big fan of strings and the orchestra, I fell in love with the songs featuring the Nashville String Machine (which is just about the whole recording!) *wink* On most recordings, the temptation is to hit “next” on the ballads and only listen to the fast tracks, but these ballads have an underlying strength that keeps your ear listening from one line to the next. When I listen to this CD, I listen to every track. There’s simply not a song worthy of skipping! Also, each song has a beat that pushes the story forward – I like that because the slower songs don’t “drag.” This Is Mercy is a great example of that, take special notice of the light drumming that picks up in the chorus and second verse. (This can also be heard in I Can Trust You.) These little things keep the recording in a constant flow, so even though there are “slow” songs, your ear keeps hearing a little something that links each track to the one that follows it. Out of ten songs, six are up-tempo and four are slower – thus the CD in itself has a very up-beat sound and its arrangements are superb.
Tenor – Chris Allman
Lead – Gerald Wolfe
Baritone – Rodney Griffin
1. Come Unto Me
Message: The lyrics of this medium tempo ballad are written around that familiar verse we memorized in Sunday School, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Only here, it is not a test of memory one week out of the year, but a promise that resides deep within us, lasting the span of our life. With that, we hear the chorus call out to the “weary, tired and worn,” to come to the Father and obtain a refuge from the storm. The first verse summons us to leave our burdens behind and follow the Lord’s guiding hand even when we can’t see what’s ahead. In addition, the second verse invites “whosoever will” to step into the Fathers open arms – He has never turned away any who seek Him, and though others may claim there are different roads to Him, He is still the only true God who hears sinners when we pray.
Other Comments: Not only does this opening song bring us a great lyric, it has an easy going rhythm accompanied by guitar, piano and a steady beat on the drums. Both verses are sung collectively as a group, but the lack of a feature doesn’t harm the delivery at all. This is a excellent song written by Chris Allman – it goes over great in concert! *wink*
2. I’m Looking For The Grace
Feature: Rodney Griffin
Message: When we hear a song about the storms Christians face, the message usually points to the glory God will receive from it, the promise that He will bring us through or the assurance that deliverance is near…but not this song. The lyrics of this tune express a completely different outlook on life when the tempest blows in. In fact, the first verse talks about seeing the dark clouds advancing and poses a curious question, “What will I ask of God when I pray?” Before we get the answer though, the second verse sets up a list of requests most of us are guilty of praying, but also goes on to show us that it’s more important to have God by our side than to have answers to our questions. Finally, the chorus takes us through the things that really matter; like a peace that’s greater than anxiety, the little miracles that bring a smile to our face in spite of our circumstance and a faith that doesn’t seek a way out of the squall, but looks for the grace to ride out the storm. One of my favorite lines is from the third verse, “Won’t asked to be lifted from the mire ~ just praying for a grace to shield me from the fire.”
Other Comments: The words that flow from Rodney Griffin’s pen keep getting better and better! Very rarely do you meet a song where every line has a distinct and important message. But this is one of them. Not a word was wasted in the construction of this song. This is also the first single sent to radio from this project and I believe it will be a number one. If it isn’t, I’ll be very, very surprised!
3. This Is Mercy
Feature: Rodney Griffin
Message: This ballad is about the inscription that hung on the cross, saying, “This is Jesus – King of the Jews.” As the first verse describes, that inscription was written by those who mocked the Lord. Yet, if I were the one doing the writing, that sign would have said what the refrain tells us, “This is mercy…this is grace.” The chorus goes on to say that the scene of Calvary was much more than a man who claimed to be the “King of the Jews,” it was the Son of God who willingly became our substitute so we could go free! Indeed, this was a sacrifice “beyond what words describe.” It’s mercy. Grace. The second stanza points out that no wooden engraving could possibly have the room to explain who Jesus was, or make us understand the importance of His shed blood as He hung on the cross. The sign wasn’t big enough…only angels could see the phrases love scrolled across Calvary that day.
Other Comments: If I had to pick a favorite, this would be it. The chorus captivates me – not only the lyrics, but the music as well! When the last few lines are sung, there is this “controlled intensity” that delivers the lyric straight to the soul…it’s beautiful. This one was co-written by Rodney Griffin and Natalie Harp.
4. The Blood Hasn’t Ever Changed
Feature: Chris Allman
Message: We live in a world where the value and worth of things fluctuate almost every day…everything but the blood of Christ. The chorus of this song outlines the fact that the blood still cleanses, delivers, and saves – throughout history, it has never, ever changed or lost its power! Though one can search for life’s answers among the world’s explanations, the first verse tells us that the solutions can only be found in grace. The second verse explains that even though there are many who deny the healing power of the blood and the authority of the Bible, one day, even they will bow to the Lord.
Other Comments: This number written by Chris Allman has some groove! The style reminds me of “Eternity’s About To Begin” from their The Only Way project. (If I’m not mistaken, Gerald Wolfe calls it “The Pentecostal Shuffle.”)
5. Forever Is Sure
Feature: Chris Allman
Message: The events of life can prove to be unstable at times, but as this song reminds us, the reality of heaven is secure and unwavering. The first verse reminds us that we live in a world that constantly changes, one in which the future looms ahead as a great mystery. Because of that, the chorus talks about clinging to the assurance of that future hope – where suffering belongs in the past and saints freely tell of their journey of faith. Nevertheless, as we seek strength to walk another day down here, remember that no matter what uncertainties plague tomorrow, you can count on heaven. A thoughtful reflection on faith encompasses the second verse – it’s the thing that holds us together when we wonder what the will of God is, or where tomorrow will lead, and keeps our eyes on the final goal.
Other Comments: I thoroughly enjoyed this tune written by Rodney Griffin and Jim Brady! Every up-beat song that GV records has an important message and this one is no exception. The track is very “easy listening” and Chris does an awesome job on the vocals!
6. Seeking For Me
Feature: Gerald Wolfe and Chris Allman
Message: Jesus Christ came to this earth to pursue souls, to reach out to them in love – that is the subject of this ballad. Beginning with the chorus, the lyrics reminds us that even when we had no interest in Him, He sought us out anyway and loved us completely. In the first verse we hear, we see a picture of the Lord reaching out for us, while at the same time, our eyes are focused on something else and our arms are outstretched for that thing. Though we sought for all the world had to offer, in the end, we were really searching for the satisfaction we would only find in Him. So we reached out to Him and cried to Him in the following verse, saying, “I want You to have all of me!” With the brightness of His love; a second chance, a new life was given.
Other Comments: This ballad has an arrangement that’s focused on tugging at your heart instead of impressing your mind. The orchestration is mellow; the guitar is softly plucked, bows glide over the strings and just when it’s needed, a brass carries a solitary note. The vocals convey the message of the song in low, rich tones that will leave you longing for more.
7. Preacher Tell It Like It Is
Feature: Rodney Griffin
Message: This fun tune is a quest for truth. Many preachers are trapped between the desire to speak the truth and the need to keep the congregation in their seats. Unfortunately, most of the time Christians make both of those things difficult, so easily we are offended. Nevertheless, there is at least one soul who wishes to hear the Word of God preached straight, and it is that voice we hear in this song. The first two verses speak to the “preacher” – requesting a sermon that can pierce the soul with a touch from heaven, because some things the others have taught are not the truth. The chorus ushers in the final request, “Preacher, you say you want to be my friend…don’t be afraid to call my sin what it is!” The truth, plain and simple, not what we want, but what reality is. Continuing this conversation between this one and the preacher, the second verse encourages a sermon where the Spirit leads and speaks. One that can make sin uncomfortable so it can be removed. The bridge reminds us that life is short and faithful preachers are the hope we have to help keep our lives right with God.
Other Comments: This was one of the tunes I saw performed live before I heard it on the recording; Gerald said it sounded like a “Waylon Jennings song” because of the Country feel the track has. LOL While introducing the number, he also mentioned, “Just because you draw a crowd, doesn’t mean you’re preaching the truth.”
8. I Can Trust You
Feature: Chris Allman
Message: Trust. That’s what a relationship with God really comes down to – in this song, we hear a saint offer up a prayer in song to the One they pledge their trust to. The first stanza opens with this one telling the Lord that even though they have their dreams and aspirations, they realize that their talents come from Him and are for Him to use in the way He chooses…so if the path leads elsewhere, they’ll follow. The chorus explains why: because He knows what is best. Even if it hurts our desires to go another way, He will take us down the right path and like the saint in this song, we should say, “I will follow You, Oh Lord, ‘cause I’ve learned I can trust You.” The second verse goes on to show us what real trust is; knowing that He alone sees what lays in the path ahead and trusting Him with each twist and turn.
Other Comments: Again, the first time I heard this ballad was live and it went over really well. Ya’ know, it only received a standing ovation! *smile* Anyway, I have a feeling this one will find itself in GV’s set for a while; 1) it’s a great song, 2) the message can apply to everyone and is very timely. The lyrics come from the pen of Chris Allman, as do the vocals on both the verses!
9. I Will Take Care Of You
Feature: Rodney Griffin
Message: Even though we live in a big world, the stories of the Bible convince us that the Lord will take care of His own. Setting the scene in the opening verse, we see ourselves as a small being in the midst of a large world, with large needs. Can He provide for all of them? Can He even hear our lowly cry for help as He sits way up there in heaven? Then we hear His still small voice say, “You can trust in me.” The Lord’s voice continues in the chorus where He reminds us of all the miracles He has preformed…(feeding the five thousand, raining manna down from heaven). As the Lord’s most valuable treasure, He promises that He will take care of us. In fact, trying to come up with the words to describe His faithfulness can quickly render one speechless! But as the second verse reminds us, every time there has been a need, there has been a provision as well.
Other Comments: All three guys sing the opening verse together and then the second verse features Rodney. This is an up-tempo song that’s easy listening with a very enjoyable mandolin in the intro. While the verses are written from the standpoint of a saint, the chorus answers with a response from the voice of the Lord.
10. For All He’s Done
Feature: Chris Allman
Message: “…And I can’t help but praise the Lord for all He’s done.” That’s the theme of this ballad – what a message to end a project with! With the rising of the sun comes another day to wake and ponder the things He’s done. He’s been good. Because of that, the chorus declares, “For all He’s done – I’m gonna’ lift my hands and praise Him. For all He’s done – I’ll try to live my life to please Him.” Even though we don’t deserve the life that’s offered through the cross, because of His grace, our lives are anew. The second verse says that there are many things that He’s done that is worthy of our praise and it would take a lifetime to name them entirely, but the most important one is the Lord Jesus Christ and what He accomplished on Calvary.
Other Comments: I don’t think there is enough room in this review to talk about what I see in this one song! To begin, the lyrics come from Chris Allman’s pen. (I always think something special happens when the writer gets the feature on their song.) Not only is the message a great way to end a project, the music builds and fills this ballad with power! This is definitely the “power ballad” of the recording. I also love how the background vocals come in on the second chorus and when the chorus repeats – if that doesn’t send chills up your spine, nothing will!
For All He’s Done available for purchase HERE – get your copy today!!!
“Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your hear: for consider how great things He hath done for you.” – 1 Samuel 12:14