Zehnder: Emergent Worship Music
When my friend Mike Morrell posted a blog entry about Worship for an Emerging Church, I was a bit skeptical. Having been a member of an evangelical megachurch in the past (1978 to 1994), I’ve had my fill of “worship songs” that are mindlessly repetitive, shallow, or theologically offensive. And most of today’s worship music just sounds the same to me – it’s not something I’d choose to listen to (except for the David Crowder Band and some, but not all, of the artists in the Passion series).
But I got the CD Mike was blogging about – Going Up?, by Zehnder – and I was very pleasantly surprised. Twins Tom and Tim Zehnder compose, arrange, perform and record as an indie worship band based in Los Angeles. Tim plays bass and doumbek, Tom plays guitar and djembe, and together they blend their voices in a way that sometimes sounds like a male version of The Indigo Girls (and if you know me at all, you know that’s high praise). Most of the songs here are reminiscent of the better “alt.pop” artists like Sufjan Stevens or Ben Lee. The music jumps around from genre to genre – a powerful urban rap called “Justice Jam” is followed by a cello solo – but these guys are so talented, it works, producing an album with a multicultural vibe.
Zehnder’s song “I Believe” (based on Mark 9:24, “I believe; help my unbelief”) was so moving, and so honest, it brought a tear to my eye. The twins do a hauntingly beautiful version of the Appalachian hymn “What Wondrous Love Is This.” My favorite song on the album, though, is “Breathe In, Breathe Out,” which (like the best of the Emergent Christian movement) pays homage to the ancient while still being postmodern:
Shalom, salaam, namaste
Ancient the paths, we find a new way
To be one in spirit, mind and body this day
You can find out more info about Going Up?, and download a song from the album, at ztheband.com