Tony Cummings reports on CITIZENS & SAINTS and their forthcoming 'A Mirror Dimly' album
A huge amount has happened to the alternative rock worship band from Seattle called Citizens & Saints since Cross Rhythms last wrote about them in 2013, not least changing their name from Citizens to the longer moniker. At the time of their name change the band's lead singer Zach Bolen explained, "Ephesians 2:19 is where we got the name Citizens. . . From the beginning it was important as a band to have a name that focused more on the people of God participating in joyful and expressive worship of Jesus, than attention being placed on a band, its songs or its name. Moving forward we feel as though Citizens & Saints better exemplifies Ephesians 2:19. It is our goal to be clear in our presentation of the Gospel. To put it plainly, the citizens and saints party ain't over and it will continue long into eternity. We are grateful for the work that God has called us to and will continue to do now through Citizens & Saints."
Recording-wise, things have been steadily progressing for Citizens & Saints. Their album 'Join The Triumph', produced, like their 'Citizens' debut, by Brian Eichelberger and released in November 2014, was enthusiastically received. New Release Tuesday wrote, "'Join The Triumph' seems to be a perfect name for this collection of songs, containing themes of grace, redemption and the greatness of our God running through every track." A Deluxe Edition of the album was released in 2015 and featured three additional songs as well as two remixes, one of which was a new version of "Father You Are All We Need" remixed by Kings Kaleidoscope frontman Chad Gardner.
But in many ways it is the release of 'A Mirror Dimly' which could well be the band's most important recording to date. The album, to be issued on 16th September on Gospel Song Records, is a result of a hugely difficult time for the group as they dealt with the downfall of the Mars Hill Church, the megachurch once pastored by controversial preacher Mark Driscoll. Said Zach Bolen, "We all search for something to believe in, and 'A Mirror Dimly' is a concept album about our search for clarity." "Faith and doubt aren't exclusive to Christian belief, but relative to the nature of the human heart. To doubt God is evidence of that nature, and doubt in one thing often prompts the belief in another. So in regards to the Gospel, we have to first doubt our own ability to save ourselves (acknowledging our neediness) in order to believe (have faith) that God is our only way to salvation. To believe in God is evidence of a power at work that goes beyond the bounds of human nature."
Bolen continued, "This record wouldn't exist if it weren't for the fall of Mars Hill as an organization. One of the best days in the history of Seattle was the day Mars Hill shut it doors. While the brothers and sisters of that community may not meet all together in similar places anymore, the Church of Christ did not crumble and it certainly has not weakened because of it. We experienced the love of God through his presence and his people in ways we never had before. 'A Mirror Dimly' is the result of both personal struggles and conversations with those swimming in doubt post Mars Hill, yet inclusive enough to be a cathartic journey of listening and contemplation for any and all. We're not the first people to go through hard stuff; we all suffer in different ways. There is hope beyond the foggy glass; the joys of being loved forever, free from the burdens of the wounds we all carry."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.