On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. We will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, the for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” –Isaiah 25:6-9
For most artists, their work is an expression of their internal worlds—their feelings, desires, and disappointments; however Christian singer-songwriter Sandra McCracken says her approach to her writing music has recently shifted from a more personal perspective to a corporate one.
“In the last few years, there has been such a stirring and a change in my process as a songwriter,” McCracken said. “It becomes less about my own feelings and more about experiencing God’s presence, and wanting to make space for other people to experience God’s presence. And so, the songs are coming more like gospel songs these days.”
You can sense this shift in McCracken’s recent song, “We Will Feast”, a deceptively simple song carrying a powerful theological message. The lyrics come from Isaiah 25 where Israel is told Yahweh is making a feast of aged wine and rich foods, and that at this feast death will be swallowed up forever and the sins of the people will be taken away.
“This song propels me forward,” McCracken says. “It propels me into the heart of the promises of God, giving a glimpse of the vision to see what God sees—the final resolution of all things. And it does this with a corporate point of view, inviting us to sing together as a people, to share one voice in loss and life together under the banner of God’s redeeming love.”
The music video for the song—which is being released for the first time here on ChurchLeaders—captures this communal feeling by inviting us into a living room where people sing, hope and pray together. While the song is hopeful, it’s also a song very much for our present cultural moment, acknowledging the real dangers of our world, our existential anxieties, and even our failure to be faithful to our God in the first place (Every vow we’ve broken and betrayed/You are the Faithful one).
McCracken’s voice—which falls comfortably in the vein of old-school folk country artists like Dolly Parton or Emmylou Harris—imbues the lyrics with an aching sadness and longing that fits well with the Jewish tradition of lament. McCracken believes allowing her songs to resonate a somber or melancholy tone is important not just for her as an artist, but the church as a whole.
“Our culture is uncomfortable with extended grief. The church has a responsibility to fight against the dishonesty of living on the surface of things, or encouraging people to put a smile on their faces so they will have a positive attitude about difficult things. As a music minister, I am convinced that the songs that we sing have a role in shaping our hearts, and songs of lament can make space for us to feel more deeply and to speak more honestly before God. We need songs of lament to be part of our church life, every week. In doing so, I hope that we would not be held fast in our complacency, but drawn out of hiding and comforted by our loving, pursuing Father.”
“We Will Feast” is featured on the album Steadfast Live, which was released August 25, 2017.