Why I like the worship music of CityAlight

A recent output of fresh worship music has been recorded by an Australian group called CityAlight. Their repertoire may or may not have shown up in your church, but if not, it should. Their three recordings – Yours Alone(2014), Only a Holy God (2016), and Yet Not I (2018) – are full of rich, singer-friendly, congregational songs. Here’s 5 reasons why I like CityAlight:

  • Rich, gospel-centered lyrics. I value lyrics above all when it comes to music that is intended to be sung to God in worship. Unfortunately, the over-stereotyped, but sometimes-accurate description of modern worship is simple lyrics, repeated often. I must confess I’ve been guilty sometimes of promoting this. But with song writers like the Gettys and now CityAlight, we can sing lyrics like these:
Who else could rescue me
from my failing
Who else would offer His only Son
Who else invites me to call Him Father
Only a Holy God
Only my Holy God!
Come and behold Him
The One and the Only
Cry out, sing holy
Forever a Holy God
Come and worship the Holy God

Maybe it’s their Anglican roots, but there’s a hymn-like richness there. In an interview with Tim Challies, representatives of the band said, “The vision of CityAlight is to write songs with biblically rich lyrics and simple melodies for the Christian church to sing.”

  • Songs in singable keys. I wish more worship leaders would understand that we don’t all have the range of a Chris Tomlin. With the exception of a couple of songs on the first album, 90% of CityAlight’s songs are in vocal ranges that are comfortable for the average person to sing.
  • Vocals that don’t draw attention. Don’t get me wrong; the singers in CityAlight are great. But you don’t go away from listening with the thought that the vocals are the center. No vocal embellishment (that honestly, sometimes seems like showing off), but simply sticking to the melody for the most part. With CityAlight, the mix is such that you get a good exposure of the crowd singing along. It comes across as singing with the church, not for the church.
  • Speaking of melody, catchy tunes! It’s much easier to learn and sing along when the tune has some character to it, with changes in pitch that match the flow of thought. It’s because of this that these recordings are sing-along-able!
  • Variety of music. There are up-tempo hand-clappers, thoughtful and meditative ballads, soaring and anthemic hymns. The variety keeps me coming back again and again to supplement my personal times of worship.

The irony is that for the explosion of worship music available, there’s been less actual worship. To enhance your worship, I invite you to check out CityAlight (available wherever music is bought or streamed). If you’re a worship leader, you would do well to emulate their practices.

Question to consider: What practices help you the most in your worship of our Holy God?

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