Song Review by Phillip Townsend

Posted originally by Phillip Townsend on August 5, 2010 at 12:16 am  

Song: Lord of All
Artist: Kristian Stanfill

I guess I’ll kick things off if there aren’t any objections? Hearing none, I will proceed I’d like to review a song called Lord of All by Kristian Stanfill. Kristian is an emerging artist from North Point Church in Alpharetta, GA under Pastor Andy Stanley. He is one of my favorite leaders due to his passion, humility, and solid song-writing. Lord of All was first released in 2007 and many churches now sing it. However, I wanted to review the song for those who might be less familiar with Stanfill. I believe this song is an example of top notch song writing and sound biblical theology.

YouTube link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7ii8WTXilw

MUSICALITY
I realize this is a highly subjective category. But in my opinion, this song is a great example of straightforward song writing that stands out for its simple and memorable melody. The chord progression and song order are very predictable. But I think this draws more attention to the power of the melody. Unexpected changes might seem forced and/or “gimmicky”.

The interplay of the lead guitar and piano in the introduction gives the song an epic feel. This is important for accentuating the subject matter which will be covered below.

The pre-chorus and bridge sections add in a minor 2nd chord. This provides just enough chord variation to keep things interesting without being distracting.

In this recording, you’ll notice there aren’t distinguishable vocal harmonies. And truthfully, it doesn’t need any. I think one sign of a well-written melody is that it can stand alone. It doesn’t need backing harmonies to sound powerful.

There is a loop used until the 1st pre-chorus. This simple percussive beat drives the song until the drums come in. The drums remain tasteful throughout – very dynamic but never showy.

The extremely simple and punchy piano part during the chorus gives the whole section an epic feel.

I love the dynamic contrast between the bridge and final chorus. Over the course of 60 seconds, we are taken from the most delicate moments of the song to the most dynamically intense.

The simple chord progression, simple lead guitar riffs, simple piano parts, and simple loop…..combined with a medium tempo….make this song accessible to even the most elementary musicians (like me!).

THEOLOGY
I think Lord of All hits a home run in terms of theology. The lyrics communicate an awestruck wonder that comes from considering the sovereignty, holiness, and absoluteness of God.

Verse 1
Wonder and awe surround You, Lord (Job 5:9)
Glory and fire light Your way (Isaiah 4:5)
Day after day the heavens proclaim
The beauty of the holy One (Revelation 4:8)

Prechorus
We will respond with joy in our song
Your enemies rise
Your enemies fall
Your fire consumes them all (Isaiah 26:11)

Chorus
There is none so high and holy (1 Samuel 2:2)
King of kings the one and only (Revelation 19:16)
You are adored, You are the Lord of all

Verse 2
Mysteries unknown are known to You (Job 11:7)
All wisdom is Yours to reveal (James 1:5)
You hold in Your hand the days of all men
All life and breath is Yours to give (Acts 17:25-26)

Bridge
We adore You, we adore You
Lord of all the earth (Joshua 3:11)
Lord we love You, Lord we love You
Let our hearts be pure (Psalm 51:10)

As you can see, every concept in this song has blatant biblical support. What I particularly love is that…in addition to proclaiming God as the holy and sovereign One…the song includes an element of personal reflection. Phrases such as “We will respond”, “We adore You”, and “Lord, we love You” make the song more than simply descriptive. They allow the worshipper to respond to God with love, adoration, and purity. In other words, we are acknowledging the absolute holiness of God and declaring our desire to be holy like Him (Leviticus 19:2).

CONCLUSION
Lord of All is a modern, well-written, accessible, and biblically sound song that makes a fantastic addition to any church’s song repertoire.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted originally by Scott Shirley on August 5, 2010 at 10:21 am edit

    Scott is a first year PhD student at New Orleans Seminary–

    I guess there are several ways to do literary analysis on the lyrics of a song. I’ll try to incorporate some concepts from Old Testament exegesis, especially Hebrew poetry.
    (1) Personal Pronouns – Simple enough: I, you, he/she/it, we, y’all, or they.
    (2) Space/Time Movements and Narrative Discourse – Hebrew poetry often depicts some change in scenery (time or place) followed by either a monologue, dialogue, or a discourse from the narrator.
    (3) Intimacy of Scope (my own concept) – I have noticed that Hebrew poetry sometimes zooms in and out, being in an intimate setting at one time and then zooming out to view the hills, city, earth, etc. This is a bit subjective in nature, but a reader could imagine a zoom scale on Google Maps going from 1-10, 10 being the widest scope, but 1 being the most narrow and detailed.
    (4) Elements of Style or Structure – Hebrew Narrative often is developed and concluded using a device called Chiastic Structure (A, B, C, D, C’, B’, A’). Does this song introduce the audience to a concept in the beginning and conclude the concept in the end. Usually Western culture leaves the “punchline” at the end instead of the middle (contrary to Eastern).

    (1) Personal Pronouns:
    -verse1- You, it, they, it
    -PreChorus- We, they, they, it
    -Chorus- He, he, you, you
    -verse2- You, yours, you, yours
    -Bridge- We, we, you, you, us

    (2) Space/Time Movements and Narrative Discourse:
    This tool is not so useful for the analysis of this particular song. While there are some elements when the present aspect changes from momentary to durative, literary development in this manner does not appear to be one of the author’s goals.

    (3) Intimacy of Scope:
    -verse1- 1, 3, 10, 10 (zooming outward from God’s face to the entirety of the heavens)
    -PreChorus- 7, 4, 4, 7 (congregational singing> zoom in to rising/falling > congregational burning)
    -Chorus- 10, 1, 10 (survey of all creation > one Lord > sovereignty over all creation)
    -verse2- 2, 2, 2, 2 (the camera doesn’t move here)
    -Bridge- 7, 10, 7, 7 (congregational adoration > Lord over all the earth > congregational affection)

    (4) Elements of Style or Structure:
    -Verse1- God’s Possessions (wonder, awe, glory, fire, and beauty)
    -PreChorus- Repetition: Your, Your
    -Chorus- Rhyme: holy-only, adored-Lord
    -Verse2- God’s Possessions (mysteries, wisdom, days, life, and breath)
    -Bridge- Repetition: Lord, Lord

    It would have been cool to see more structure and order. Even the citation of Scripture references could be a way to establish a pattern.
    My grandfather says he likes songs that “tell a story.” What I think he is picking up on is the beauty of linear thought flow within a song. He is also tuned-in to hearing a delima-climax-resolution pattern in some of his music.

    Making something rhyme is not the only way to make it beautiful.

    Reply

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