Tuesday, February 23, 2016

#63 SWEET MERCIES - Passion '98

The theme this week on the top 100 countdown is RAIN. Yes, you heard that right, this week's theme is nothing more than a common weather condition. Wow, it's becoming abundantly clear that I'm rapidly running out of good ideas. And yes, as always, I'm gonna pretend that 'rain' has some bigger spiritual significance that applies to both life and this week's song, but in reality I just really like the cool picture seen above.

The picture you see signifies a man worshiping God and being showered with His great mercies, allowing them to wash over him. Alternatively, the picture you see above could also be Andy Dufresne from The Shawshank Redemption. Who's to say, really? Hey, speaking of Shawshank, did you know that if you play the movie backwards, it's the moving story of a man who escapes a major thunderstorm by sneaking into prison to hang out with Morgan Freeman? Weird, huh?(1)

(1) But, if you play the movie backwards, then once he gets into prison, he smells terrible. 

I chose rain because this week's song #63, Sweet Mercies, off the Passion 98 album, contains that wonderful imagery of God showering His mercies on us. But also, the Passion 98 album begins with the really cool album intro track Send Your Rain, which sets the tone for the whole album. I think I also chose rain because it rained all day yesterday here in central Pa, and I spent the whole day shoveling slush. Thanks for nothin', Elsa.

The Passion 98 CD vaulted the Passion conferences and movement in the forefront of the modern worship era. Before this CD came out, Passion was a growing movement that youth leaders were talking about. After the Passion 98 release, every single church and youth leader had the CD and was anxiously awaiting the next one.

If you gaze at the track listing above, you can see why. The thing is chocked full of great songs and all-time classic worship tunes. So much so, that 3 of the songs off the album are in my top 30 on this very top 100 all time list. And as another historical footnote, Passion 98 is the very first CD I ever owned.

You see, at the time, I belonged to a VERY exclusive group called the Columbia House Record and Tape club. It was so exclusive and prestigious that if I didn't send back a 'no thank you' card every few weeks, they would automatically send me some stuff and charge me for it. And since I didn't send back my 'no thank you' card, they sent me a CD instead of sending me my usual cassettes.(2)

(2) Kids, if you don't know what a cassette is, ask you parents. Or that old hippy dude down the street.

Anyone else remember these? And yes, that is the old classic Sparrow blue cassettes. Now I feel like listening to Margaret Becker.
The funny thing is, I didn't intentionally order Passion 98 and when I got it in the mail I didn't want it. It was still a few months before I went into the full-time youth ministry and I didn't know much about worship music. Plus, at the time I didn't even own a CD player. Of course, I was delighted to find out that you could play CDs on your computer - Imagine that!

The song Sweet Mercies was written by David Ruis in 1995, and it was redone by a few people in the next few years. But most of the time, it had sort of a slow, early 90s, standard worship feel to it. Nothing special. But when the Passion people got ahold of it, they upped the tempo and made it the classic it is today. 

Also on the Passion 98 album is what I'd call a 'sister song' to Sweet Mercies, a track called Knocking On The Door Of Heaven, which has almost the same type of vibe - if vibe is a word one can use to describe worship songs. The songs seem similar to me (but what do I know), and if you like one, you should like the other as well. I'm going to put the video for Knocking On The Door Of Heaven in Andy's Extras 2. Check it out. 

And here's the video for Sweet Mercies - the good version. Enjoy. And oh, if you're new here and you like this, please subscribe below. And in case you're worried, the site here ONLY sends you an email when a new song is posted - about once every 7-10 days. 

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