Tony Cummings reports on THE CITY HARMONIC and their new album 'Heart'
When in 2010 Cross Rhythms reviewed the EP 'Introducing The City Harmonic' we enthused about the band from Hamilton, Canada suggesting that through them "God is raising up a new wave of worship music that embraces a deeper community experience." Now at long last The City Harmonic's second album is set to be released and following as it does the JUNO Award winning success of their 'I Have A Dream (It Feels Like Home)' full length debut it seems likely that 'Heart' will again impact the world Church.
Co-produced by the band - vocalist/songwriter and pianist Elias Dummer, bassist Eric Fusilier, guitarist Aaron Powell and drummer Josh Vanderlaan - and Jared Fox, 'Heart' places Christ at the centre while delving into themes of grace, discipleship and being, and becoming truly human, all the while giving the listener permission to sing out in hope, in hurt.
Said Elias, "We set out to write an album 'on being, and becoming, human,' but, in a way, it's about image bearing. By that I mean that yes, we're human - and the Bible tells us that we're made in the image of God and each and every human has an inherited dignity as a result. But there's more to it than that. . . God made this universe around us and often refers to the cosmos as a temple. I mean if you stop and think about the role an 'image' or 'statue' might play in a temple, you begin to see that we humans have quite a role to play. Whatever our present circumstances, the biggest challenge before us is to recognize that in Christ we've been given the responsibility and capacity to become like Him, and as we do, we are becoming exactly the kind of humans we were meant to be from the beginning."
Making reference to the new album cover's artwork, Elias continued, "People have always talked about 'the square' representing the physical, the tangible, and the circle representing the spirit, God. How do you square the circle? How do you make these things connect? Jesus was the perfect man and God. Only in Jesus do we have the ability to say, 'I'm a whole person, not a broken apart thing, whole but broken.' On 'Heart' we try to unpack what it means to be fully human."
The radio single from the project is "City On A Hill" based on the Beatitudes. Said Elias, "'A City On A Hill' takes the high concept view of Christ and brings it down to earth in the form of the very things he said in the Sermon on the Mount. It also forms a natural transition into the balance of the album which attempts to marry the ideals with our real lives. In Christ, God has given us the perfect example to live by, and the means to live that way. For the Christian, discipleship isn't simply adding knowledge to our lives, but it's to become increasingly more like the human example we've been given - to become 'little Christs,' and carry our cross through the mud and mire of a broken world in the knowledge that by the grace of God we arise brand new."
In the past two years, life has hit The City Harmonic square on. They went from working day jobs to recording and touring full time. Aaron had his first child, Josh was married, Elias had his fourth child and Eric was diagnosed with cancer. In a very real sense, life set the context for 'Heart'. One of the songs on the album, "Strong", written by Elias and Eric, grew from a place of vulnerability in the middle of Eric's battle with cancer. "I wasn't really in a place to write anything," Eric confessed. "Emotionally, I felt like a child who had been let down by his parents for the first time. I just couldn't see [my illness] as a blessing. I couldn't connect with God. To confront that stuff and write, 'I am strong in my weakness,' was really difficult because I couldn't deny how I really felt. . ." Near the one-year anniversary of the stem cell transplant that saved his life, Eric's cancer is in remission. "Being on the other side of it, my emotions now line up with what I believe. God really has been there the whole time, using this for the good. It's a clear picture of God's people coming together, working together. . .a profound experience."
With Eric planning to rejoin the group on the road, having been sidelined since his cancer diagnosis early last year, The City Harmonic launch their headline tour of the US in October. The band continue to have a very holistic view of worship. Dummer told mstarz.com, "We do sort of perform and lead worship at the same time, and we're comfortable with that, partly because we look at it really holistically, you know. I think worship isn't something special that happens for a few minutes at a concert or on a Sunday morning; that is just the group expression of what we all ought to be doing with every choice we make all day. So it's like, for me, the idea of worship isn't limited to this. And so, as a band, it's just one expression of, hopefully, everybody that comes to the event is already doing. What the beauty of worshipping together as the Church is that we're doing it together as the Church, not that we're worshipping."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.