Tenth Avenue North. There you go. You don’t actually have to read any more of this blog post, cause mostly I’ll just be talking about how I’ve enjoyed their music lately, and maybe I’ll quote parts of the songs that have been most helpful to me. I’m not telling you to go listen to them. I’m inviting you to listen, because maybe you’ll enjoy it. That’s all.
If you are still reading, and you aren’t really sure what band I’m trying to recommend, I’ll be clearer. The band is Tenth Avenue North, and if you listen to Christian radio, chances are you’ve heard them already, especially their songs “Love is Here” and “By Your Side.” So I’m not being hipster at all, I guess, because they’re kinda semi-popular, maybe? I don’t know.
Friends know I tend to go through phases of really really enjoying a band for a short period of time, before moving on to something new (looking at you, Jukebox the Ghost). So it could be I’ll read this in a few years and shudder at what horrible judgment I had to recommend this horrible band Tenth Avenue North.
I don’t think that’ll happen, but maybe.
The main reason I’ve enjoyed this particular band lately is because their songs seem to be very much based in Scripture. If they aren’t quoting Scripture directly, the themes of their songs line up quite well with what I believe. Distinction: they line up with what I believe, and with what I know, which isn’t always the same thing as what I happen to be feeling at any given time. I can assent intellectually to any number of truthful things, but it doesn’t mean I wholeheartedly live every day in light of the truth.
My heart has this infuriating tendency to rebel against my head.
So on their album called “The Light Meets the Dark,” for example, when I hear the following words, I connect in a way that’s rare with a lot of modern Christian music:
I’ve got voices in my head and they are so strong // And I’m getting sick of this, oh Lord, how long // will I be haunted by the fear that I believe // My hands like locks on cages // of these dreams I can’t set free // …please Lord how long // Will I be held captive by the lies that I believe // My hear’ts in constant chaos and it keeps me so deceived // …My mind is like a building burning down // I need your grace to keep me…from the ground // And my heart is just a prisoner of war // A slave to what it wants and to what I’m fighting for // Empty my Hands
“…My hands like locks on cages of these dreams I can’t set free.” Man. I am frustrated to no end by this, my apparent inability to stop fretting about what I wanted or how I thought it should be. We can only pray that God will empty our hands for us, changing our hearts to desire what He desires for us.
Or how about this one:
…We’re caught in the in between // Of who we already are and who we are yet to be // And we’re looking for love but finding we’re still in need // It’s only what we have lost will we be allowed to keep // And we’re waiting but our eyes are wandering // To all this earth holds dear //
Yeah–there’s a pretty good picture of being a new creation in Christ, and having a new spirit, a recreated heart, but a very human body which still gets easily distracted. The song continues,
Look at all the pretty things that steal my heart away // …Lord I love so many things that keep me from Your face // Come and save me // …We run to finally be set free // But we’re fighting for what we already have received //
I need that reminder, that Christ has already redeemed me, but that, day to day, His righteousness does not come naturally or easily for me. In fact, I tend to fail miserably. If I’m attempting this on my own, I will get distracted every time, maybe even by “pretty things,” things that aren’t necessarily bad, but that keep me from seeking Christ first.
So, anyway, those’re some of the songs on this one particular album. It would be ridiculous of me to go quote all of the songs, as much as I think they’re worth the while. The other album I have is called “Over and Underneath,” and while I may not quote much from it, I’ll describe it. It’s a little like reading the Psalms: full of honest crying out to God for comfort and satisfaction.
The last track on the album is called “Hallelujah.”
Aaaaaaaaah. It’s just good.
Their other two albums I don’t own, but I listen on youtube/spotify (which is what I guess I’m recommending you do–after that, if you want to, then you can buy all their albums so they can keep doing what they’re doing:). One’s called “The Struggle;” the other is “Cathedrals.” I’ll be briefer with these:
We were built by the hands of love
Redeemed in spite of what we’ve done
We are the spirit’s dwelling place
And now, children of the light
Fight back darkness with delight
Lift your eyes up to His face
Let joy take temptation’s place
Open up our souls to feel Your glory
Lord, we are a desperate people
God, fill this space
Let joy take temptation’s place
We will taste and see You as You are
Father, let Your kingdom come
Keep us from our lesser loves
Nothing else can satisfy
Like the joy found in Your eyes
May we see You as You are.
I hear you calling out my name, Lord
But I can’t look you in the eye
So I, I just stay away
I tried and tasted what’s forbidden
And it filled me with delight
But now I’m still hungry inside
Forgive me, forgive me Lord, for living, like I’m not yours
I forget, how kind you are
You are light for my foolish heart
Oh God, I let intruders into
The garden of my soul
Foxes are running wild
I thought you were holding on me now
To keep me from being free
How could I have been so wrong
What You Want
I always gotta know the plan
It’s a weight that I’ve tried to shoulder
I thought I could, but I can’t
And I’m so tired of chasing dreams
When I am wired to let you lead
To want what You want
To love how You love
And that is enough
There’s no greater plan
That I need to know
You only ask me to follow
Okay, Jo. You’ve now written practically a treatise on this one band. [By the way, it is okay that I reprinted some lyrics here, isn’t it? I’m not by any means trying to rip off anyone’s creative work–on the contrary, I hope to get people listening. Hey reader, if you know the answer to that question, let me know, please, if I’ve inadvertently done something horrible by publishing this post.]
So what? Why are you praising this one Christian band so much?
There are two answers to that question.
- I’m a nerd.
- It’s not really the band that’s the point. It’s what they’re singing about. A short little blurb on the cover of one of their albums goes, in part, like this: “…we wanted those who heard our songs to hear the gospel, that is, that we don’t earn grace, grace was earned for us.”
And that’s an incredibly hopeful thing to remember.
Thanks for reading (if you made it this far!),