When you pull out the CD insert and open it up, you’ll unfold something akin to a mini scrapbook. A photo of Mark with the Cathedrals, CD covers of albums that contain the original cuts of songs on this project, and last but not least, Mark’s “lifetime” written in his own words. Likewise, if you snap the CD itself out, you’ll read two notes written of Mark by two of his friends: Jimmy Blackwood and Neil Enloe. Each word and phrase gives you a glimpse of this man and how he was impacted by this great music. As I listened to each song that Eric, Nick, Mark and Pat sung, I wasn’t just blessed by the beautiful words, I was also blessed by the ones who were singing them, following in the footsteps of their leader, and using their “lifetime” to honor the Lord Jesus Christ and spread the Gospel through song.
1. Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
Feature: All parts
Message: The lyrics of this hymn are prayer like, or an on-going conversation with God as one travels through the world and prays for guidance and protection. The opening line of, “Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,” is well known amongst the church, but the words that follow still fit every Believer who walks with the Lord today. the lyric confesses, “I am weak,” but resounds with the certainty that the Lord is mighty and able to hold us secure in His hand. The prayer continues to petition the “Bread of Heaven” to fill us ‘til we are satisfied and need no more. The second stanza implores the Lord to open the fountain where the healing stream flows. To let the fiery pillar of Moses’ exodus continue to lead us through our journey. Finally, the words, “Strong Deliver, be Thou still my strength and shield,” complete the second verse before we rise into the third and final stanza of the song. In this part of our Christian walk, we are ready to “tread the verge of Jordan” and cross the swelling tide. As we do so, we ask the Lord to safely get us across the waters, where in Canaan we’ll sing His praises forevermore. Indeed, we can sing these lyrics as a prayer of our own.
Other Comments: Over the past few months, I’ve had the privilege of hearing MTQ sing this song in concert as a preview to this project. So, not only is it the first track on the CD, but it was literally the first song from this project that I and many other fans heard! With that in mind, I was very excited to hear it’s music (MTQ always sang it acapella). Can I say that I was blown away by the powerful arrangement? This song is a very good example of the quality singing and instrumentation that you’ll hear on this CD.
2. ‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus
Message: This hymn continues the theme of track 1 – relying on the Lord. The first verse of this ballad is a gentle declaration of how rewarding it is to trust in Jesus: to believe His Word, to lean on every assurance and know when He is speaking to us. In this arrangement, the next verse that you hear speaks of the happiness we have found in learning to trust the Savior – with that joy, is the knowledge that He is with us from now until the end. Going into the refrain, the lyric lifts up the name of Jesus as it sings out, “how I trust Him!” Our lives have confirmed the faithfulness of the Lord again and again. As we draw near to the last line in the hymn we hear an addition to the original script, that says, “O for faith, O for love, O for grace to trust Him more.”
Other Comments: This second song sounds so simple – yet, there are so many “little” things to notice, that I’m beginning to believe that the complexity of it has made it “simple.” (If such a thing is possible!) First off, the verses you hear are the first and last stanzas in the hymnbook. The first verse is sung by the group as a whole and Eric sings the second as a solo. But what I want you to listen to is how the woodwinds in the intro come back at the end of the chorus where the extra words are added – it’s beautiful. Also, there is a gentle modulation in the middle of the chorus that lifts the last couple of lines and sets them apart from the others. Finally, it is worthy to note that soft note that Eric holds at the end for such a great length while the other guys sing around it. These little things give the arrangement its life, taken out, it just wouldn’t be the same.
3. Way Past Ready
Message: This snappy tune is written from the viewpoint of a man who isn’t just ready for the Lord’s return…he’s “way past” ready! The first verse recalls the memory of when this one first heard the second coming preached – elated, he told everyone to begin making merry – but as time passed, the theme was preached on again and again. Surely, after all these years the Lord’s return has drawn closer, which left our songwriter with the question, “How long do I have to wait?” The chorus is a cluster of phrases pointing out the things that this man is “way past” waiting for. Living in a world where he doesn’t belong, gazing at the eastern sky for that cloud that He’s promised to return on and dreaming about heaven. The second stanza assures us that the prophecies have been fulfilled and that nothing is holding back the coming of Christ. Those who are going with Him have been redeemed by His blood – and if we thought that His coming was close all those years ago, how much closer it is today! There is no time to waste!…Lord Jesus, even so come!
Other Comments: This is the one and only “new” song on the project! Written by Rodney Griffin, the song fits the style of the recording so well you can’t even tell that it hasn’t been around forever! I love songs like that…
4. Golden City Tour Medley
Feature: Baritone, Bass
Message: The first verse talks about hearing of the city full of splendor that never passes away and learning that we can go there and tour that city forever. The next part of the song speaks of strolling down the streets with each other, singing joyfully with all the tribes and nations present. The bells will ring, the angels will sing, and as this happens we will explore those golden streets. Then the voices fade, a chord is rolled on the piano and another song is introduced to the medley. This one is written as one person telling another that in heaven, they will find them touring the city that’s lit by the light of Son of God. With Him, the victorious One who brought them safely home, is the place where this child of God will ever abide. Suddenly, another chorus is introduced that seems to continue the same conversation that was introduced in the last song, only this one exclaims, “I’ll meet you in the morning…”
Other Comments: This medley is composed of three great classics, in order, they are, “We’ll Tour That Golden City,” “Touring That City,” and “I’ll Meet You In The Morning.” The verse of the very first number is sung by Mark, but when you get to Touring That City, it flips to a bass feature, and the third song gives Eric the lead on the chorus. I enjoyed how each song allowed a different vocalist a solo, and at the same time, continued the theme of “one” person speaking about heaven throughout each song.
5. Wonderful Time Up There
Message: Beginning with the chorus, the lyric casually tells about the wonderful time Believers will have in heaven: how we’ll retell His story with many praises, and that then, everyone will be right with the Lord – but also warns those here below to get ready because He’s coming soon! The first verse confronts the listener with some fiery preaching, “Now listen everybody cause’ I’m talking to you – the Lord is the only One to carry you through…” and reminds us that at the judgment seat, Christ will reward us for the things we’ve done – so contemplate what He’d say about what you’re doing! After another chorus we’re challenged to get out our Bibles and look in Revelation of what it says about His coming. The Scriptures not only talk about it, but record the Lord‘s words on the subject itself. So the question is: will you be found faithful when He returns? A bridge pops up just before the song closes, taking our thoughts to another tune, that speaks of the time when we’ll be rejoicing over the knolls in glory when our feet touch that heavenly paradise.
Other Comments: I’m so glad that MTQ brought this oldie back into the lime light! It’s one of my favorite “bass singing songs” and Mr. Pat does an excellent job on it. (And no, he did NOT tell me to say that!) LOL Truly, I love the Gospel songs of old that carry a heavy message but are sung in a laid back, casual way. As many know, originally, this song didn’t have a bridge – but this arrangement slipped in a chorus of “Shouting On The Hills” for that part, and it is an excellent fit. One more thing! I love that all the guys come in on the second half of verse two and finish off the stanza in unison. Awesome!
6. Too Much To Gain To Lose
Message: This gem of Dottie Rambo’s records all of the reasons why we can’t turn back on this journey – there’s just too much waiting ahead to turn around now. As the first verse points out, we have crossed too many miles, made it through too many trials, and have shed so many tears that hark back to past times, that stopping now would be too foolish, compared to the abundance ahead. The second verse, likewise, draws for us the scene of a weary desert traveler, who is so sure of the refreshing water to come, that they press on. The refrain speaks of the sunsets and rivers that have been seen and overcome, the treasures awaiting in heaven and whispers, “there’s too much to gain to lose.” Taking the thought another step, the “bridge” talks about witnessing the Lord in all His glory, face to face.
Other Comments: The verses are sung back to back, leaving the climax for the chorus. Or, depending on your taste, the climax may be that tranquil bridge of “We Shall Behold Him,” sung by Pat Barker.
7. Meet Me Over On The Other Side
Feature: All parts
Message: Taking us back to the New Testament story of the Lord walking to His disciples in the midst of the storm on the water, this tune begins. In the first stanza we find the Lord telling the twelve to cross over the sea before Him and meet Him over there. But when the storm set in, they cried, “what do we do?” The answer came from the Lord Himself, walking on the waves, “Meet Me over on the other side.” Though, the answer wasn’t over yet, the chorus goes on to tell us the things that the Lord would have us do in such situations: don’t fear waves and face the storm for He will preserve us. Soon, everything will be calm and we’ll come in on a peaceful tide. The ever familiar, but precious words ever spoken, “be not afraid…meet Me over on the other side,” complete the refrain. The second verse takes the Biblical story and applies it to our lives. He still tells us to meet Him on the “other side” when we find ourselves in the storms of life. He is ever watching for those grey clouds, ready to guide us through them as we reach toward the goal.
Other Comments: In the CD insert Mark talks about seeing the Happy Goodman Family sing this song when he was 12 and never forgetting it. He also called it contagious…once you listen to MTQ’s version, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s just as contagious now as it was then.
8. Footprints Of Jesus
Feature: All parts
Message: In the short, but wholesome lyrics of the first verse, we hear the voice of the Lord calling for His children to follow Him; and by pursuing the tracks He has left for us, we are led to His presence. The chorus uses the Lord’s footprints as a picture of the thing that brightens our path. No matter where they go, we will follow. Listening for the second verse, we hear a pleasant surprise as another hymn takes it’s place by singing, “Where He leads me I will follow, where He leads me I will follow…I’ll go with Him all the way.” After our second verse, another chorus of Footprints is sung and the song closes with an “Oooo.”
Other Comments: Throughout this project, I was getting accustomed to the technique of using another song for a bridge, but this song changed it up and used an alternate hymn for a second verse, which I think is very clever! I also enjoyed the simple arrangement this song was produced with. The lyrics are undemanding, therefore it’s a perfect fit for the music to be also.
9. I Sing The Mighty Power
Feature: All parts
Message: This magnificent hymn speaks of all the wonders of God’s creation…that He made with His mighty power. The first stanza talks about the mountains that rose, the seas that flowed and the clouds that filled the blue sky. As well as the wisdom that set the sun, moon and stars in place. The second verse ponders the Lord’s goodness that filled the earth with such things as food, animals and all the wonders we witness to this day. Finally, we are reminded by the hymn writer that every plant, flower and creation displays the glories of the Lord and “everywhere that man can be, thou God art present there. Amen.”
Other Comments: This arrangement begins at a mezzo-forte and builds. My favorite part of the music is the trumpets that play two quick triplets halfway through each stanza, but the three “amen’s” that are sung at the end as the final climax are definitely the highlight of the vocals.
10. The King Is Coming Medley
Message: These chosen lyrics written by Gaither are some of the most descriptive, eloquent and vivid word pictures ever penned about the Lord’s coming…shall we explore them once again? Verse one records the vacancy in the marketplace and streets, the haunting silence of the hammers not in use, and the un-harvested wheat. An empty courtroom and no wives bustling around the house – every activity on earth is paused as the King of Kings rides through the gates of the earth. The second verse switches to a completely different scene, this one in heaven. All are smiling – some because they have been set free, others because they were healed, redeemed, mended, and clothed in snowy white garments. The chorus tells us why all those things were happening, “The King is coming!” The trumpet has sounded, His face will soon be seen by all, but most importantly, He’s coming “for me.” Then the song steps up into another tune, I’m Free, which talks about being free from the fear of tomorrow and the guilt of the past. Hallelujah, that when He comes again all fear will be gone!
Other Comments: The intro isn’t too long, but takes the proper time to set up the mood of the song – solemn and reverent. The first two verses are sung back to back, Mark singing the second by himself. The build begins at the 2:50 mark with a staccato march feel that takes our song into one more chorus of the “King Is Coming” before it glides into “I’m Free.” The orchestra on this one is very moving and well done. What a perfect way to conclude a project!!!