As a parent, I’m always looking for songs which will speak words of life and hope over my children and my home. But, here’s the rub: I’m kind of—okay, totally—a highly discerning arbiter of music (the word “snob” is so tasteless). So when the music of Nashville collective Rain for Roots crossed my path several years ago, I wanted to do the proverbial dance of joy at finding such lovely, talented allies in parenting from a place of godly imagination. Needless to say, their albums have been in constant rotation: at home, in the car, even at my wife’s kindergarten orientation this year where she had a Rain for Roots album on repeat the whole evening. Yeah, we love these gals. And why not? Their gentle folk melodies have filled our house with a sweet, sweet fragrance of beauty and goodness.
The debut, Big Stories for Little Ones, featured Sally Lloyd Jones’ inspired words from The Jesus Storybook Bible set to music, and last year’s The Kingdom of Heaven is Like This toured Jesus’ parables. Late last year, the trio of Sandra McCracken, Flo Paris, and Katy Bowser released their newest album. Waiting Songs explores Advent through 10 tracks, from re-workings of the words of the Old Testament prophets to object lessons in the concept of waiting, and a pair of traditional Christmas carols. In both its focus on the oft-overlooked season of Advent, and the songs’ exquisite craftsmanship, Waiting Songs is a must-have.
There’s always been a gospel feel to many of the RFR songs, but the themes on Waiting Songs—longing for deliverance and anticipating the coming of God’s kingdom—seem to bring the flavor of the old spirituals even more to the fore. An immediate highlight has been “Every Valley (It’s Hard to Wait),” which occurs early in the album. By fusing everyday occurrences of waiting—mailing a letter, waiting for a friend to return from a long trip—with the words of Isaiah 40:4, I think it’s bound to bring home the truth of Advent to little hearts through a rich, soulful melody. I also love “Magnificat,” a version of Mary’s song of praise from Luke 1. Should I mention the uptempo “Mary Consoles Eve” and the steady, earnest “Come Light Our Hearts”? Why not?
I can see Waiting Songs opening up some new furrows in the well-plowed ground of the Nativity story, and I’m confident the conversations and meditations that result will be fruitful for our family. Is it too early to start trimming the tree?
[For more information on Rain for Roots and their music, check out their website.]