Written by: Laura Chambers (October 4, 2017)
Concerning the church’s level of engagement with the outside world, we tend to lean toward one extreme more than the other. Either we retreat into our safe place and shut ourselves inside, and therefore others out, or we stream out the doors into the world, knocking down the barriers of common sense, refusing to be defined by four walls, a roof and a foundation. Our role ought to be more the gatekeeper than the guard, the beacon rather than the firebrand. The Porter’s Gate crosses the divide of denomination and tradition, recognizing that like peace, welcome must begin with and among us if it is to be found anywhere on Earth. Work Songs is a collection of thirteen hymns written and performed by many voices arising together in harmony that springs from their shared love of Christ. We are encouraged to recognize the common ground we share as workers contributing to a common cause; God’s glory.
“Little Things With Great Love” assures us that God does not ignore a single aspect of our lives, not the deeds we perform in His name, nor the heartbreak we experience, neither the needs of any of His children. All of these things become beautiful in His sight. The song is slow, almost graceful in its melody, like a dance. “Have Mercy On Me” defines God’s virtuous qualities as stemming from His compassion and humility. The desire to evidence and act as a conduit for His mercy is expressed with sincerity. May we become a hospitable shelter from the storm, a way forward created by our extended open arms. “Wood And Nails” references Jesus’ trade, carpentry, asking Him to create a place where we can all dwell and sup together with Him. It also recalls the crucifixion, noting that the tools He used to build were also the instruments of His execution. It’s something I never considered before. “Establish the Work of Our Hands” prays for God to be a very real part of our work at every moment, imparting His power. Recognizing that anything we don’t cooperate with Him on is a wasted, impotent effort, this spirited song sways back and forth.
“Christ Has No Body Now But Yours” is a sobering reminder of our responsibility as Christ’s body to do as He did while on Earth – see the needs of others and bless them with our hands and feet. It kind of makes me think of those sad Hebrew songs you hear on some of the Israel aid commercials. “Day By Day” recognizes aspects of God’s kingdom and character evidenced in a variety of occupations. If you look around, He has given us so many opportunities to see His hand at work in the work ordinary people do, both metaphorically and literally. “God The Maker” lays the best we have to give before the Lord, knowing that our small offerings can become masterpieces in His hands. Even if we have nothing left, He will fill us up completely. “In The Fields Of The Lord” pictures us as workers in God’s pastures, empowered by Him to bless others. Every sorrow will be turned into a thing of beauty, until all sadness is no more. The voices blend sweetly like entwining vines, creating an ache for the kingdom described in the final verse.
“Every Mother, Every Father” is a prayer of blessing on parents, that they might be filled with kindness, clarity, and be sustained by the presence of God. Aside from its quick pace, this simple lyric would be perfect for praying while laying hands on the individuals in question at a service. “We Abide, We Abide In You” recalls Jesus comparing Himself to a vine and His people to the branches growing and producing fruit. We can do nothing apart from Him. Only by drawing from Him as our source of fresh water can we be sustained. “Father, Let Your Kingdom Come” expresses a hope to please God with the things we do and represent Him with the words we speak. By so doing, we bring His kingdom to Earth in the most unlikely locations. “We Labor Unto Glory” reminds us that every triumph and defeat, every occurrence natural and deliberate, moves toward an ultimately glorious end. “Your Labor Is Not In Vain” is a comforting letter from Jesus, assuring us that our work is not meaningless. He sees what we are doing and encourages us to trust that it will accomplish something of value, culminating in victory, healing, and joy. He is always with us.
When weariness sets in, it’s comforting to be reminded that our work done for the Lord has eternal value. More than that, however, He sees us in the moment and does not leave us to operate in our own strength. He comes and works alongside of and through us, whatever our vocation, accomplishing great works and bringing others to Himself. Work Songs injects the sacred into the secular, changing our perception of the ordinary by letting us view our lives and each other through God’s eyes.
Released: October 6, 2017
Label: The Porter’s Gate/The Fuel Music
- Little Things With Great Love (feat. Madison Cunningham) [Live] (5:07)
- Have Mercy on Me (feat. David Gungor) [Live] (5:05)
- Wood and Nails (feat. Audrey Assad & Josh Garrels) [Live] (5:17)
- Establish the Work of Our Hands (feat. Aaron Keys & Urban Doxology) [Live] (4:22)
- Christ Has No Body Now But Yours (feat. Josh Garrels) [Live] (4:08)
- Day by Day (feat. Joy Ike) [Live] (3:13)
- God the Maker (feat. Latifah Alattas & Liz Vice) [Live] (3:59)
- In the Fields of the Lord (feat. Audrey Assad & Paul Zach) [Live] (3:18)
- Every Mother Every Father (feat. Audrey Assad) [Live] (2:22)
- We Abide We Abide in You (feat. Paul Zach) [Live] (3:35)
- Father Let Your Kingdom Come (feat. Urban Doxology & Friends) [Live] (4:40)
- We Labor Unto Glory (feat. Liz Vice) [Live] (3:21)
- Your Labor Is Not in Vain (feat. Paul Zach) [Live] (4:04)
13 Tracks, 52:00
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More from The Porter’s Gate:
- Work Songs (2017)