there’s no denying a couple things about chris tomlin:
- the dude can sing. like, he can sing in a way that sounds effortless and inviting
- the dude can write songs that make you want to sing along. really, we all (church peeps, that is) know so many of his songs, it’s nuts. whether your an uber-fan or not, you know his songs, because they’re clearly singable, and are therefore ubiquitously present in modern american church life.
i have very fond memories of my middle years at YS — the years from just before yac left us to just after, the “good years”. and one of the memories of that period for me is that i became friends with david crowder and chris tomlin (and all the guys in both bands). those were some years of amazing worship at the NYWC, when we had both of those bands in every city, for a few years in a row. i have a very clear memory of one of the last times chris was with us at a YS convention. he had just released a new album (that week, i think), and no one knew the songs on it yet. but one of the songs (i don’t remember what song it was — i just remember how powerful this moment was for me) was so freaking gorgeous; and once he’d taught it to us, 3500 youth workers took to it like pizza, and started singing it so loudly and passionately. i remember chris stepping back away from the mic, just staring at that ballroom full of open-throated worshippers. chris wasn’t even leading anymore; he was just along for the ride. really, i think it was one of the most powerful times of worship i’ve ever experienced.
while i’ve stayed friends (and in contact) with crowder, i’ve lost touch with chris. so i was glad that his record company still asked me if i’d like to hear his new album, Burning Lights (as they did with many people, from what i see in the blogosphere — i’m not suggesting this had anything to do with formerly hanging out with him!). i listened to it non-stop yesterday (for about 8 hours, at least). and, man, those two “no denying” things at the top of this post? they are just as true as ever. clearly.
funny thing is: we’re already singing a couple of these songs in my church, and i just didn’t know they were chris’s songs!
my favorite track (got me choked up a couple times yesterday) is the gorgeous Shepherd Boy, which i’m guessing will get less mileage than some of the songs on the album, even though it caries the album title. but dang:
i’m no hero of the faith
i’m not as strong as i once thought i was
i’m just a shepherd boy
singing to a choir of burning lights
i’m just singing
singing over you
come and lay your troubles down
’cause love is breakin’ through
and the melody — even if there were no lyrics! gah.
ok — here’s the cool thing. like other bloggers, EMI is allowing me to give out five copies of the new album (which releases on january 8). and i’m going to give them away in my own way, darn it!
so: first five people to share a tomlin memory from an old YS convention. yeah. that’s the ticket. who’s in?
ok, these stories were awesome. in fact, part of me wishes i’d said i would choose winners from the stories. but i said “the first five.” there’s another part of me that’s glad i wrote that, as i don’t have to pick.
so, the five winners are:
Joe Thompson, if i were you i’d be wondering why i wasn’t the 5th winner. well, Jeni responded via email to the post (which she receives via email subscription), then added it as a comment a little later. so, since i didn’t say she couldn’t comment that way, i gotsta call her the 5th winner.
congrats to you five! and thanks, the rest of you, for sharing such great memories. i hope tomlin sees these!