Wilburn & Wilburn is the first project launched by the father and son team, Jonathan and Jordan Wilburn. Many are familiar with Jonathan from his Gold City days, and even his son Jordan captured the spotlight at Inspiration Park as a young soloist following in his father’s footsteps. This Cd captures Jonathan and Jordan’s first recording together in their new ministry.
Musically, the tracks and the songs set some distinctive themes on this project. As much as I would like to say that there is a strong country flavor to this Cd, I don’t want to give the impression that it’s not Southern Gospel either. In my opinion, I would say that the country sounding tracks work well with the tracks that are more traditional Southern Gospel. Overall, the Cd has the same feel musically. That is, it’s mostly consistent, with only a few variations. I think the project is well balanced. Whether you favor the Country sound, or the SGM sound, as a whole, you’ll like this recording.
On the other hand, you’ll hear a steady theme with the lyrics too. There are plenty of songs about heaven (which stems from our Southern Gospel writers), then, in different ways the rest of the lyrics either point us to depend on the Lord, or show us how we are already dependent on Him. Songs like: I Can’t Even Walk, Had It Not Been, Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me, When God Ran and Through It All – contain thoughts of how we are dependent on Him for things like forgiveness (When God Ran), in trials (Through It All), salvation (Had It Not Been). So not only is the album consistent musically, it is lyrically as well!
1. I’m Gonna Move
Message: Verse one reminds us of that huge “to do list” everybody has these days! Thinking about the things that need done, like, painting the mail-box, replacing the shingles, getting some new plumbing, well, as the song states, “there’s a million things I need to do!” The chorus proposes the solution to that problem ~ just move! Though, moving just anywhere wouldn’t solve anything, moving to heaven would solve everything. The chorus gives another list, only this one is about all the things that won’t be in heaven. There will also be things you’ll get to do there that you can’t get away with down here. For example, there will be no cars, trains, or high pitched sirens in heaven. Everything will be brand new…and, you can leave your windows open! The second verse dreams about all the benefits of moving to that “new city.” New neighbors, beautiful flowers, you won’t even have to cut the grass!
Other Comments: This song has a strong Country flavor to it’s music, yet, the message makes it distinctly Southern Gospel. This is one of the most unique songs I’ve ever heard about going to heaven. It’s worthy of note, that while heaven is the subject, there is no mention of dying in the song, it is strictly joy and pleasure!
2. At The Cross
Message: We all know this old hymn by heart, and familiar are the opening lines, “Alas and did my Savior bleed…” Personally, though the hymn is well known, the second verse always stands out to me. “Was it for crimes that I had done, He groaned upon the tree? Amazing pity, grace unknown, and love beyond degree.” The reason that we can go to the cross and see the light is because there was One who was not afraid of taking the blame for things He didn’t do. (So unlike our human nature!)
Other Comments: Jonathan almost sings the whole hymn by himself, and harmonizes with Jordan only on select points. (Most of those being on the verses). At the end of the hymn when the vocals ritardando, there is a slight modulation in the music, nothing major, but enough to give it a soft lift.
3. Temporary Home
Message: This song is very encouraging to Believers who are down or just having a hard time. It’s message is simple: everything that happens down here is temporary. We aren’t going to stay here forever! Christ is coming back for us! I like how the first verse pictures someone walking the wrong way in a crowd, or, when frustration comes and no matter how hard you try, what you are doing just isn’t working! The crafty line, “upward mobility – sounds mighty good to me,” is such a clever way to say, “I shouldn’t worry about it, I’m not a part of this world, I belong to Him.” The chorus reminds us that this earth is just a “temporary home,” one we won’t dwell in for long. We were made to look forward to a better day with Christ in heaven, and not down here! The second verse reassures us that when the world throws problems our way, Jesus will move us up to higher ground…so don’t get discouraged – you’re a child of the King!
4. I Can’t Even Walk
Message: The opening lines, “I thought number one, would surely be me…” begins the challenging contrast between what we think we are and what we really are. This song takes us through everything we think we can do in our own strength – I can do what I want to, I can build on sinking sand, I can be the best. Only to come to the humbling realization that, I can’t even do the most simplest thing (like walking for example!) – without Christ holding my hand! Next, the lyrics address the tendency of pride in our lives. Making it by ourselves, doing things by ourselves, thinking more highly of ourselves than what we ought to! These thoughts carry us into a chorus where we see the words of a man (or woman) who truly knows the feeble condition of their own ability, and in simple meditation says, “Lord, I can’t even walk without You holding my hand.” The final verse resolves to trust in the Lord and call on His name in times of distress.
5. Had It Not Been
Tempo: Slow Ballad
Message: Though a well known ballad in the Southern Gospel genre, this song considers an interesting thought – what if Jesus had refused to endure the cross? The first verse takes us inside the portals of heaven, where we imagine the Heavenly Father searching for someone who would willingly go to Calvary and be the sacrifice for sin. Yet, instead of being introduced to the Son who does all the Father’s delight, what would have happened if God couldn’t find anyone to go? What would have happened to us, if that was the case? The chorus answers that very question with a round of thought provoking phrases. If it wasn’t for Calvary, a cross, and a man named Jesus – our souls would be lost…forever. In contrast to the beginning of the song where there was no deliverer, the second verse gratefully tells of the Savior who drank that bitter cup for us, and who never called the angels of heaven to save Himself, but willingly laid down His life to save us.
Other Comments: This song has been recorded by many artists over the years, and no wonder why, there is power in the lyrics. Jordan does a fantastic job on it (both on the recording and live in concert)! Powerful, powerful song!
6. Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me
Message: This song talks about the difficulty the world has in accepting a Christian’s definition of blessings and happiness. They see us when we’re struggling and say, “They have nothing!” If they only could see how much we really do have! The chorus lists some of those blessings for us to meditate on…a roof over our heads, shoes, food on the table, God’s love and a family. For these things we cry, “Thank You Lord, for Your blessings on me!” The second verse explains that we may not have wealth in terms of money or new clothes, but we have the Lord and that’s what matters!
7. I’m Rich
Message: This song really has an interesting twist on words and the thoughts they create. We get the impression that when a Believer is rich, it is in the things that truly matter, like: faith, hope and love. Yet, coupled with that same thought – we get the suggestion that with the Lord, it’s just like joining a royal family, you get everything else that’s associated with material wealth just because! Take the first line of the chorus for example, “I’m rich in faith and hope and love…I’ll be moving to a mansion just over in glory, where I’m a rightful heir.” The wealth part is associated with love, hope and faith, yet at the same time, things like being a “heir” and “mansion” are included…kind of like a “buy one, get one free” offer you’d see at the clothing store! So, with God, our wealth is in the important things (love, faith, hope) and everything else (mansions and being a “millionaire”) are included for the fun of it! If you stretch the lyrics, you can see the same thought line carried over into the other verses. Verse one talks about our Father owning the “cattle on the thousand hills.” (Once again, I see just a touch of the thought of royalty there. Only “rich” people can own that much, right?) Verse three has the favorite “modern” line in the whole song… “Hallelujah I’m a millionaire!”
Other Comments: It’s also worthy to note the contrast in verse two with guardian angels and prayer. Our guardian angels follow us everywhere just in case we need them, but when we need Him, all we have to do is pray.
8. When God Ran
Tempo: Slow Ballad
Message: If there was ever a song about forgiveness – this one surpasses them all! The first verse lists some of God’s titles, like…Almighty God, Immovable Rock, Victorious Warrior, etc. Once you get a good picture of how awesome He is, the writer makes a note to let us know, that there was only one special time when this One who is so great and powerful did something, kind of, out of the ordinary for One who holds such a position – He ran. The chorus completes the thought…who did the Father run to? – Me. Why? – Because a prodigal son had come home. What did He say? – “with forgiveness in His voice He said, ‘Son, do you know I still love you?’” How did this son react? He says he was surprised “when God ran.” In the second verse, the prodigal reminisces about the time when he strayed. He confesses, that deep in his soul he knew he broke the Father’s heart, but dared not to think it could ever go back to the way things were before, until, one night he decided to give it a try. I love the line that closes the second verse, “down a dusty road, ahead I could see…it was the only time I’ve ever saw Him run.”
Other Comments: Though originating in another genre, this song is no stranger to the Southern Gospel Music circle. This ballad bolted to the #1 position on the Singing News Charts for the Kingsmen Quartet back in 2009, and has also been recorded by Mercy’s Well, and probably some others!
9. Greater Is He
Message: In the introduction, I mentioned a theme of depending on the Lord throughout the lyrics of this project. This song is one that really brings that out. The opening lines talk about the spiritual warfare each person faces after they accept Christ as their Savior. (When you mess up Satan’s plan, he’s usually not a happy camper!) Though, in Christ we have the strength and victory to stand against whatever the evil one sends our way. The refrain is a little declaration of that victory. In it, we see the joy of someone who can sing and shout about their freedom in Christ. I love the line in the chorus that says, “I’m a solider in an army that never has known defeat…” That’s a great line! The second verse looks back on the time when we wondered through this world without the Lord, all the misery and failure we had in our lives without Him, but just one call, and He saved us and gave us the victory!
10. Through It All
Message: To list the lyrics with depth and meaning, and talk about the lines of this song that stand out to me, I truly would have to list every word! This is one of those classics where every line is made of gold. The writer of the first verse talks about the trials, questions and confusion everyone is bound to face in life, with those sorrows lingering in our mind, the channel that leads into the next verse is even more profound… “God gave blessed consolation, that my trials only come to make me strong.” Continuing on with another verse before going into the chorus, we hear how the writer was blessed to meet many people and do many things – yet, those privileges didn’t keep him from loneliness, until he finally realized that even in his lonely state, He was one of God’s own. The chorus is simply the writer sharing what he has learned through those experiences. He says that those things have taught him to trust in the Lord and depend on the Word of God. The final verse lifts us to a positive atmosphere where he thanks the Lord for everything that He has brought in his life, for as the words say themselves… “If I never had a problem, I wouldn’t know that He could solve them, I wouldn’t know what my faith in God could do.”
11. Freedom’s Never Free
Feature: Jordan and Jonathan
Message: This whole song is a big compare and contrast between the sacrifice of American soldiers for our nations freedom, and the sacrificial offering of the Son of God on Calvary for our Christian liberty. Before we hear any singing on this track, a short line remembering World War II sets up the scene for the beginning of the song. The opening verse depicts a cemetery of white crosses – a memory of the soldiers who left their American dreams to fight on the front lines. Each cross has it’s own story, and each one is a silent witness to the price they paid for us…I love the closing line that says, “No, the memory will not die, because I will not forget.” The chorus is our response to their great sacrifice, it tells of all the things we will do, not only because we are free, but also in honor to the soldiers who died so we could have those freedoms. The lyric sings of a zeal to live out what we believe because we know that freedom is not cheap, no, and definitely not free. The same voice we heard opening with the commentary on WWII, now quotes a condensed version of John 3:14-16, leading us into the second verse. This verse is where the contrast comes in. Instead of many little white crosses on a hillside in remembrance of several soldiers, we are now taken to a hillside where we focus on only one cross and One Soldier, Jesus Christ. Freedom from sin and death began to dawn when He was raised upon the cross and breathed His last breath. Through His death our liberty was obtained. Once again, the writer passionately declares, “The cross will never die, cause I will not forget…” The bridge lists simple phrases like, “I will walk, live, die,” – adding “free” on the end of each one, summing up the song in a few uncomplicated lines.
Other Comments: This ballad is filled with passion. Passion for America, zeal to live for Christ, and vowing never to forget the price that both of those privileges cost. (This song is contagious! Listen to it a couple of times and you’ll be fired up and ready to go salute the first flag you see or give the gospel to the first person you see on the street!)
12. When He Calls I Will Fly Away
Message: Written in first person, the opening verse gives a testimonial of looking back on where he/she came from and where they are now headed. He begins looking back on the time in his life when he was not saved, walking in the path of sin, and therefore, condemned to eternal death. Then, Jesus paid the debt of his sin, living for the world became a thing of the past, and in its place was a readiness to fly away with Jesus when He returns. The refrain is a combination of thoughts and statements concerning the Lord’s return and how he/she will respond to it. We see the idea of eagerness for the rapture and contentment in that it could happen at any moment. In the second verse the writer states that going back to the old way of life (without the Lord) is unthinkable. Instead of going back, he’s looking forward to heaven and spending time with Him there.