Meet Caedmon's Call

Vibrant hues of blue and green, gold and red. Organ pipes stretch into a domed ceiling. Amber candle flames streak through etched stained glass to penetrate the darkness, the space. Below, surrounded by a piano and guitars, sit the members of Caedmon's Call, singing songs of worship…just another part of their day. They are in the company of their community, of each other, but more importantly, they are in the presence of God. This is the setting where most of In the Company of Angels…A Call to Worship, the new Essential Records release by Caedmon's Call, was recorded.

Four years ago, the band had a desire to see sincere fellowship among their local church body. That desire, combined with a hunger to return to the elements of the early church, spurred them to help create a service called Logos ("the Word") at their home church, Second Baptist, Houston. Incorporating creeds, hymns, and tradition, the band found what they believe to be a vital part of their Christian existence, a sense of community. Community and worshipping within that context are the foundation and vision behind this passionate new album.

Creating a worship album has been a long-time desire of the band, and they've finally found opportunity to give it proper focus, following the success of their independent efforts and three national release projects. Even with more than 750,000 units sold spanning their three best-selling and critically acclaimed recordings, several #1 Christian radio hits, and an Album of the Year Dove Award, the members of Caedmon's Call have managed to hold onto the simple roots which first formed the band nine years ago.

The band known as Caedmon's Call first began when Cliff Young (vocals, guitar) and his now-wife Danielle (Glenn) Young (vocals), began singing together in church. Gradually, the other members joined, and the band started touring colleges. A few years later, Caedmon's Call was offered the chance to lead worship every week at a Houston-area Bible study with close to 1,000 of their peers. As their careers evolved, the band always remained anchored in their home church.

"We're all called to be a hand or a foot or a face in our local body of Christ, and hopefully we've played our musician role in that by playing instruments and leading worship," Young says. "All we're trying to do through this record is express what we've been doing in our church for a long time. We're not trying to pull music out of nowhere and put it down. This is an extension of something we've been a part of for years."

Even though Caedmon's Call doesn't typically lead worship at their concerts and their songs don't usually reflect a worship style, the band's music has always been grounded in the idea of directing people to God in their everyday lives.

"We're learning that worship is more than playing music or singing a chorus over and over. It happens on a day to day basis," explains Todd Bragg (drums.) "In something as little as running an errand or doing a project around the house, we can worship through that. We can also worship in our struggles and our confusion. It ultimately comes down to understanding who God is, praising Him for being who He is and giving Him the glory."

Through a friendship with fellow artist Rich Mullins before his death, Young and the rest of the band were educated about the true essence of worship. That inspiration has become a cornerstone of what the band believes and the reason they feel worship to be such an intimate aspect of community, rather than a vehicle for drawing emotion out of their audiences.

"Rich used to talk about how people would come up to him after concerts and say, 'Wow! The Holy Spirit really moved at that certain point in the song,'" Young remembers. "And Rich would respond by saying, 'No actually, that's where the kick drum and the bass came in.' It's easy to mistake energy and emotion for worship. So it taught us that worship can be just as powerful when we're by ourselves in our room, in prayer, as it can be with 3,000 people getting chill bumps."

Caedmon's Call was fortunate to have been one of a select group of artists to be offered some of Mullins' unrecorded material earlier this year. They combined his lyrics and simple melodies with their own sounds to create "Oh Lord Your Love," a beautiful tale of humility and grace.

Rather than the usual two songwriters, Aaron Tate (founding member) and Derek Webb (lead vocals, guitars), who have penned most songs on Caedmons' previous albums, this collection offers a rare collaborative effort of all the band members and their extended community. In the Company of Angels contains the single, "Before There Was Time," by Young's brother-in-law Aaron Senseman, and the medievalesque "Warrior" and "The Danse" by one of the band's mentors, Kemper Crabb. In addition to offering his prodigious instrumental abilities, youngest member, Josh Moore (Hammond B-3, piano) also did much of the producing on the album and wrote two of the album's singles, "We Delight" and "Who You Are."

"Who You Are" was written as a simple song of praise, restating the idea that God deserves our worship not merely because of what He has given us, but more significantly, because He is God.

"The beginning verses are about what a child sees," explains Moore. "It's about being born and being young and what God is through us. When you're first called to understand God for who He really is, you're so awestruck. You're not fed up with the church or all these other things that can distract you; it's just a pure, vertical expression."

Another layer to the vertically aimed album exists by the inclusion of three old hymns. Contributed by Webb, along with his wife, songwriter Sandra McCracken who wrote the updated music, the hymns provide a classical element, a deeper example of worship in its truest form.

"The Western Church has lost sight of the idea that worship music can engage the mind and not just the emotions," Webb observes. "The purpose of hymns is the same as the liturgy and confessions of the Ancient Church. That purpose is to cause us, as we worship corporately, to confess what it is we believe about God and who we believe Him to be."

In keeping the content aligned with the purpose of the recording, every song resounds with the attributes and character of God, reflecting the ultimate reason for offering worship unto Him:

Because He is good, as stated in the old hymn, "Thy Mercy"
Because He is mighty, as expressed in the song "Warrior"
Because He is forgiving, as is humbly confessed in "I Boast No More"
Because He is omnipresent, as revealed in "Before There Was Time"
Because He is faithful, as poured out in Rich Mullins' lyrics to "Oh Lord Your Love"
And finally, but most importantly, as "Who You Are" describes…simply because He is.

Also reminiscent of the roots of Caedmon's Call is the production on In the Company of Angels, which borrows largely from the organic vibe they achieved on their independent projects years ago. Heavily percussive, this album departs from the trashcan sounds used on albums past, instead incorporating a more appropriate global feel to this community-inspired project. Irish frame drums and Indian tablas are a curtain for the band's signature acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies. Organ and piano are also a salient element throughout.

"The album has an old-world feel to it. Some of the songs were taken from writers who lived in centuries past," describes Garett Buell (percussion.) "The music is somewhat contemporary, but the traditional elements are still evident. The predominant tone is that God is being worshipped. There are no self-focused songs just to make people feel good about themselves. It's strictly as worship should glorify and praise God."

As anyone who has ever attended their concerts can attest, the live show is a big part of what Caedmon's Call is about. Touring roughly 150 concert dates per year, the band members have always thrived on the opportunity to interact with fans and create an intimate, interpersonal concert setting. With their ministry focusing primarily on college audiences and with an established, unique fan-base known as The Guild, it is fitting that the band chose to include that aspect of their community on this recording. At a recent Texas-college concert, the band captured a live version of "God of Wonders" for one of the album's two live tracks. Long before it appeared on the album City On A Hill: Songs Of Worship And Praise (Essential Records) and became a Dove Award nominated worship song, one of its writers, Steve Hindalong, gave Caedmon's Call access to "God of Wonders" to see how it translated in a live worship setting. Since then, the song has become an important part of the Logos service and the band's live concerts. At this particular concert, a huge audience is heard meshing flawless four part harmonies to provide some unparalleled musical moments on the album.

"There are a lot of qualities that you hear live that you don't necessarily hear in a studio recording," Bragg describes. "The energy and the spirit of the music is felt, and everybody's personalities come through so there's a lot more being conveyed. That's really powerful."

In the Company of Angels, with its convergence of traditional and modern elements, does much more than convey the personalities of the albums' performers. It answers a call to worship. It is an offering of humble adoration and an invitation to join the community of those who seek to adore. As with every Caedmon's Call album before it, it does so in a way that is both moving and memorable. Caedmon's Call offers a collection of songs that point all things back to God in the purest sense of what worship is meant to be.

"We have put together a record that is focused completely on worshipping God," Buell explains. "We've always believed that the church and the community within, is integral to the Christian life. We hope that these songs will make their way into the church and be sung to give praise to God and that the band that wrote and produced them would be forgotten. We also hope that the people singing them would forget themselves for awhile and focus on nothing besides the God who delights in our worship of Him."

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