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FACEDOWN (2004)
Facedown - Click to view!I watched this British gentleman conduct an hour-long seminar on worship at a local music festival this summer. He emphasized the importance of returning to "face-down worship." He mentioned how the church has a lot of shouting, standing, and raising of hands, but we seldom kneel in our services. By citing various Old and New Testament passages, he explained how there was an equal emphasis on both standing and kneeling.

I suppose all of these thoughts were brewing in Matt Redman's mind when he recorded his newest project, Facedown. The theme of godly fear for a holy Deity saturates every song in some manner. Redman takes the focus off of self and places it onto the Creator; rather than stand in our own righteousness, we need to take time to kneel so we may remind ourselves how great He is and how small we are apart from Him. In his lecture Redman came against the new worship songs that focus primarily on the creation's relationship to God rather than reflecting the holiness and grandeur of His nature. To counterbalance, Facedown contains songs like "Nothing But the Blood," which takes the themes of the old "blood songs" (like "Oh the Blood of Jesus") and reconstructs them into a modern-day hymn. The chorus rings, "What can wash away our sins / What can make us whole again / Nothing but the blood / Nothing but the blood of Jesus / What can wash us pure as snow / Forever welcomed as the friends of God / Nothing but the blood / Nothing but the blood of Jesus." The music is a grand, 4/4-meter collaboration of large drums, guitars, bass, and passionate vocals from Redman and several female BGVs. I found the song refreshing, for it held a distinct power due to the change of focus. The CD moves away from the temporality of today's events toward an eternal source of power and love.

Another song that places the worshiper in a humbled stance is "Breathing the Breath." The chorus repeats, "We are breathing the breath that You gave us to breathe," reminding the listener that God even provides the air we inhale and exhale from our lungs. It's a healthy dose of submissiveness in a generation that often puffs up with pride. A melodic guitar riff and powerful bass line, bookshelved by legato piano solos, dominate the musical environment created by this track.

Three additional songs that deserve attention are "Lead Us Up The Mountain," "Raise a Voice," and the title track. "Lead Us Up The Mountain" is less than 2 minutes and consists of these words: "Lead us up the mountain / Lead us to the place Your glory dwells, God." After singing these lines once through, the instruments die away for a soaring of vocal harmonies. When a small drumbeat comes in, one can't help but picture marching up a high peak to capture a glimpse of God's magnificent presence. After reaching such a height, we hear, "Welcomed in to the courts of the King / I've been ushered into Your presence." So begins "Facedown," the climax of the album. Here Redman's philosophy on worship reform appears front and center: "And I'll fall facedown / As Your glory shines around." The supremacy of Jehovah is exalted in this mellow worship ballad. The bridge is a repetitive, "So let Your glory shine around / Let Your glory shine around / King of Glory here be found / King of glory." It's a fantastic example of corporate worship as the audience is heard singing along. Several tracks later, "Raise a Voice" arrives. By saying it "arrives" implies a spontaneous moment of worship that Redman and producers Nathan Nockels, Les Moir, Louie Giglio, and Brad O'Donnell decided to showcase on the recording. The track opens with rapturous praise as Redman urges the crowd to "Raise a voice / Tell your God how great He is / Tell the world how great He is." This initiates two minutes of shouting, clapping, hollering, and unrehearsed music and lyrics. "Raise a Voice" also centers on the personhood of Christ and who He is, and it carries the theme of the record very well.

Facedown is a project that welcomes listeners to take such a posture. By singing, "This is a love song to You" on the last track, Matt Redman culminates the album on a note that could leave the listener on the floor after the CD stops. Now I understand why various artists cover Redman classics—he's an artist who's gifted in sensing the heart of God and placing it in song form.
- Hollie Stewart
October 2004

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