While writing songs for the new album, Aaron Shust was going through struggling times in his personal life. His two-year-old son Nicky was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis, a rare condition that caused Nicky to be unable to take in nutrition. The Shust family was informed that Nicky would have to be on steroids for the rest of his life. This fact made them very uncomfortable, for they knew that those steroids could have some bad side effects. However, later tests on Nicky suddenly came back normal and showed that Nicky no longer had any problems and, in fact, seemed to have never had any at all! The Shusts had experienced a miracle, and the event had taught Aaron to put his trust in the Lord. Quite appropriately, This is What We Believe features many songs about God’s love towards His children as well as the hit single that reflects what Aaron had to go through during tough times.
The album begins with the title track “This is What We Believe” which is a worship song with the declaration that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who “takes away the sins of the world.” Aaron Shust uses the verses to praise the Lord and sing of His majesty. Following the title track is the first single off the album, “My Hope is in You,” written by April Geesbreght. It begins with a piano intro performed by Aaron Shust which is soon joined by drums before switching off to the first verse. This is song is great both musically and lyrically. Using a catchy tune, Aaron sings about putting his hope in God and finding refuge in the Lord when he encounters tough times. He sings in the chorus, “My hope is in You, Lord/All the day long/I won’t be shaken by drought or storm.”
Aaron Shust sings of God’s magnificence and power in “Your Majesty.” He declares Jesus to be the “King of every king” and refers to God as the “sovereign” one. In the second half of the chorus, he refers to our Lord as being “seated high on Your throne/The One who reigns inside of me.” The next two songs are originially written by Charles Wesley and Philip P. Bliss respectively, but the music is arranged by Aaron Shust himself. “Risen Today,” a song about Jesus’ resurrection, has an upbeat tune with fast drums and some electric guitar. Aaron sings “Hallelujah/He is risen/Hallelujah/Our sings have been forgiven now/…Christ the Lord has risen today.” This song seems to sum up the entire idea of Christianity in general. Strings instruments are used in “Sing of my Redeemer” which is a slow track that Aaron uses to speak more of Christ Jesus. He proclaims that after all Jesus has done for him, he will sing of, and praise, his Redeemer.
The piano based tune “Never Been a Greater Love” is a worship song that speaks of God’s love for us and declares that there is not love greater than His. The seventh track on the album is called “Greater is He.” This year, I have already seen two other songs by the same name sung by other artists on their respective albums and the topic seems to be the same: God is greater than all the things in this world. However, I find Aaron Shust’s song to be unique, at least musically, to the other two as well as containing stronger and more encouraging lyrics.
Again, Aaron Shust brings up the topic of God’s love towards us in “Wondrous Love.” By the chorus lyrics, the song seems to be based on the hymn “What Wondrous Love is This.” Aaron sings in the chorus, “What wondrous love is this/that You would lay aside Your glory for my soul.” For those who know the hymn, they will notice how close these lyrics are to the chorus in the hymn. I find Aaron’s rendition to be very well done and I think that both those who have and have not heard the hymn will appreciate and enjoy this song. “We Are Free” is an anthem that God has freed us from sin, and it encourages us to act as the Lord does. The album ends with “God So Loved the World,” a soft song with the words from John 3:16 as its lyrics along with a few extra lines by Aaron Shust mixed in.
For me, the 2009 record Take Over was the album that put Aaron Shust at the top of my list of favorite singers. It contained a great collection of worship, catchy, and even fun songs. Thus, my expectations for This is What We Believe were rather high. I am happy to say that this album not only met those expectations, but exceeded them! His singing voice has improved, as he himself says, “[Producer Ed Cash] had me singing more passionately, less precisely, higher, louder and even more quietly than I ever had before.” Plus, some of the best praise and worship songs of 2011 is what you will find on this album. Aaron Shust’s focus on the topic of God’s love in many of his songs is very encouraging and reminds us that the Lord is always there to help us when we need it. All CCM fans will greatly enjoy listening to this latest release from Aaron Shust!