At this point in the history of TalkingWorship.com, most of our readers serve in an evangelical context that utilizes a rock band formation for their worship music. With this in mind, I thought I would share what I believe to be the best Contemporary Christian Music Album that you have probably forgotten about, for whatever the reason. Today, however, I am going to bring this album back to the forefront of your mind.
In 2004 Chris Tomlin released his 3rd studio album titled Arriving. With an RIAA “Platinum” certification, this is the first of two albums that have sold over 1 million copies in the United States of America. Two tracks, “How Great Is Our God” and “Holy Is The Lord” remain on CCLI’s Top 100 songs (that’s not to mention the other 12 songs that Tomlin has had a part in writing and are also on this list).
Album cover art owned by Six Step Records
Here are the tracks on the album in order as they appear:
- Holy Is The Lord
- How Great Is Our God
- Your Grace Is Enough
- Unfailing Love
- The Way I Was Made
- Mighty Is The Power Of The Cross
- All Bow Down
- On Our Side
- King Of Glory
- You Do All Things Well
You probably recognize more songs than you thought you would. Any number of these songs can be heard across churches in the United States, some across the world (especially How Great Is Our God).
So why do I give such acclamation towards this album? There are three reasons. First, the songwriting is par excellent for the CCM industry. Biblically sound and highlighting essential components of our faith, these songs can be sung across denominational lines. What I really appreciate about the album’s songwriting is the clarity of the lyrics. Today’s CCM songwriting is featuring a lot of extended metaphors with one-liners to supplement. This approach does not allow for a high level of congregational understanding, while an album like Arriving does just this.
Secondly, this album epitomizes the CCM sounds that are replicable by local churches. The typical rock band arrangement features a rhythm guitar, lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, and usually keyboard. This is the arrangement that Tomlin uses on this album, and with riffs and rhythms beginner to intermediate players can learn, local churches can build confidence in their musical skills. With the rise of electronic music, background tracks, and high levels of editing, sounds on some of your favorite worship songs can be very difficult. Your whole band, however, can play songs from Tomlin’s Arriving.
Hinted at in the last point, and by extension of the same point, band members can learn their respective parts on this album. This is a great album to start with if you are just starting a worship band or if you sometimes have a worship band that is still developing. Not overly rhythmical, either melodically or instrumentally, and with simply progressions, even your newest keyboardist can play these songs with a week of practice. Likewise, the songs on this album can be a great place for experience and skilled worship teams to create new arrangements and push their creativity.
Lastly, these are songs that congregations can sing. Sure, you may need to transpose some of the songs down a few steps to a more accessible key, but these songs are definitely accessible for the average singer. That, and with the high level of familiarity many people in your congregation will have with these songs, they are more likely to participate in singing with you and the band.
I encourage you to listen to this album for all these traits and more! If you are unfamiliar with this album, now is the time to become familiar with Arriving. Odds are this album will always remain a face for the current CCM, due to its theology, sound, and accessibility. What other CCM albums have been quickly forgotten that we need to be reminded of? Let me know in the comments! I would love to hear from you.
Jason Palmer is the Administrator of TalkingWorship.com. Jason has a Bachelor of Science in Ministry with a Worship Arts Major and Music Minor. He has lead worship for evangelical churches for 7 years and desires to see worship leaders become confident in their calling.