The Gospel Coalition, fresh off the press of promoting The Porter’s Gate “Songs of Lament,” has likewise promoted the companion album that released a few days ago on September 4th titled “Justice Songs.”
The band, which is founded by Isaac and Megan Wardell and is comprised of a rotating collective of guest artists and collaborators, describes itself as:
…a sacred ecumenical arts collective reimagining and recreating worship that welcomes, reflects and impacts both the community and the church.
The band is heavily involved in the social justice scene and its social media retweets read like a who’s who of BLM affirming believers.
This may be why TGC is so enamored with it. In fact, while there are several songs on this that are benign or lyrically theologically safe, others are not. Or if they are “safe” they are prayers by Roman Catholic priests and mystics put into song form, such as Instruments of Peace.
In some ways, this might be described as Christianity Today’s 2020s theme for Social Justice Zealots by which “virtue twerk.”
The sheet music is available here. The first song, Justicia, belts out a rallying cry against police violence and racism against people of color, portraying police as the enemy which must be stopped. There are references to George Floyd and refrains of “queremos justicia” [we demand justice] closing out the condemnation.
They’re meant to protect us but kill us instead — queremos justicia!
They’re meant to defend us but step on our necks — queremos justicia!
The watchmen were sleeping and left us for dead — queremos justicia!
And we cannot stop till this comes to an end — queremos justicia!
The song then shifts into references to illegal immigration, protesting the injustice of crossing the border “in faith” only to be arrested and “thrown to the ground” – an “act of supreme evil.”
Cruzamos fronteras, cruzamos a pie. [We crossed borders, we crossed on foot.]
Hambrientos, sedientos, cruzamos en fe. [Hungry, thirsty, we crossed in faith.]
Llegamos para construir algo nuevo; [We came to build something new;]
Toman nuestros regalos y nos tiran al suelo.
[You took our gifts and threw us to the ground.]
We will make no peace with oppression is not as overtly in-your-face, but it does have references to “No Justice, no Peace,” a phrase often used in associated with police brutality, such as with the Black Lives Matter protesters shouting the variant of “No justice, no peace, no racist police” at George Floyds memorial, as well as standing against violence of any form. Given that the artists made a song worshiping George Floyd, they are enlightened enough that you wonder if they have “Words are weapons / Speech is Violence / Silence is violence” in mind.
We will make no peace, no peace, no peace with oppression,
We will make no peace, no peace.
Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.
We will stand against violence of every form.
We will march in the street, “No justice, no peace!”
arm in arm with our neighbor till we all stand free
With the Zaccheus Song, the lyricists makes parallels to Zacheus making reparations to those he had wronged – people who were alive that he directly stole from and sinned against, making things right as an evidence of his faith, sincerity and a new heart. While the song seems to play it mostly straight, within the context of the greater album, it is difficult not to read the suggestion that white people ought to give black folks monetary reparations for all they have stolen as a matter of justice. The song is about Zaccheus, but it is not *about* Zaccheus.
Much I have gained, but I’ll give even more;
half of my wealth, it was robbed from the poor.
O this injustice, Lord, help me restore,
for You called me by name and said “Sin no more.”
He said it’s more bless-ed to give than receive,
to open my hands to the ones I’ve deceived,
to bring reparation of all I have thieved.
Hallelujah! Halllujah! Yes, now I can see.
What I’ve taken from the poor – I will give it all away
And their cries won’t be ignored, I will give it all away
Let your justice be restored – I will give it all away
What I thought was mine is yours – I will give it all away
Expect to see this album and the soon to be released Songs of Lament popping up everywhere.
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