Chris & Jennie Orange - The Message We Live

Published Monday 19th February 2007
Chris & Jennie Orange - The Message We Live
Chris & Jennie Orange - The Message We Live

STYLE: MOR / Soft Pop
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 22158-12245
LABEL: Independent

Reviewed by Peter Dilley

How (not) to write worship songs - Method A (1970s): (1) Think of a suitably devotional first line (eg, "Holy is the Lord"). (2) Repeat line and melody a few times, then chop it around a bit for the end of the verse, and/or add another line if you can think of something appropriate ("who was and is and is to come"). (3) For more verses, change a word or two ("Holy" to "Worthy" to "Jesus"). Worship songbooks used to be packed with songs of that ilk, but most songwriters these days try to be more imaginative. So why do two tracks here (the other being "Praise The Name Of Jesus") appear to be the praise and worship equivalent of the "Life On Mars" time warp TV series? I almost began to wonder whether this was a deliberate spoof, as the aforementioned "Holy Is The Lord" also features an over-the-top percussion track, resembling something dubbed across from a Weapons Of Sound CD. Lyric writing Method B (buzzword lotto). (1) Write down as many over-worn worship phrases and expressions as you can ("the name of the Lord", "lift his name up", "magnify", "banner", "at his name the demons flee"...). (2) Pick out a line, and repeat it a few times for the chorus ("I will dance for the Lord" fits the bill), (3) Put together the other lines from what's left. As with Method A, creativity is definitely optional. Maybe that's harsh, but I'm completely baffled as to how an EP of songs like this could have originated from worship leaders within the Ichthus Fellowship, who put on events with Graham Kendrick. Have Chris and Jennie Orange never sought his advice or opinions as a critical friend? The only redeeming features that I can see are that they don't expect you to pay for the CD (donations welcome though), and they offer free sheet music downloads. I'd rather pay for quality material from elsewhere.

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.

Interested in reviewing music? Find out more here.

Reader Comments

Posted by Ann in Midlands UK @ 00:27 on Apr 16 2008

Some times people write something without knowing its true impact on the individuals who hear and sing it. Think of a room full of teenagers (misfits, illiterate, no jobs, no hope, single parents of single parents etc...) and they get to those words of 'save the lost and feed the hungry, clothe the naked, hold the lonely) For a brief time you actually do hear voices joining in with angels.

Youngsters so often they don't understand scriptures, they don't even know why they are in church to be preached at. Yet, even in their own impoverished lives the true realisation of Christ's work hits home when they sing out the 'Message We Live'. Suddenly, in comparison to others less well off, they feel rich, educated, filled with hope and The Holy Spirit. So, who cares if lines are repeated or the format doesn't seem to sit right, Jesus has found a way to reach through their barriers and speak to them personaly.

I am in a choir that sings beautiful arrangements of music, old and modern, but it may never speak to these teenagers in quite the same way as this record does.

Sometimes people only need one sentence to turn their lives around and their faces towards Christ.

This music, that came free to their ears, will be held in those teenagers hearts, minds and souls for many years to come.

What is 'quality' material anyway and who decides what it is?

Christ and Jenny, keep up the good work in Jesus' name, God Bless you X X X

Posted by Jaycee in Derby @ 10:02 on Mar 5 2007

Well, this review has certainly generated a lot of discussion about what is 'appropriate'. Personally I thought that it did it's job and was therefore appropriate. The reviewer probably has the same views as me about what he likes or doesn't and therefore I will, on the basis of his opinion, not be buying it. Reviews are inherently subjective - that's the point of them! Admittedly he maybe got a bit carried away towards the end but maybe he's just saying what many people would think. Let's not wrap things up in Christian language, these people may be lovely and great at leading worship but this may not be a very good EP.

Reply by Matt in London @ 23:04 on Mar 6 2007

Except that you haven't read the review properly either. You won't need to "buy" the EP. It is free. And whilst the review may arguably have "done its job" (ie: given an opinion about the album), the matter for debate is not the opinion itself but the manner in which it was given. It is simply not edifying or constructive in its tone.

[report abuse]

Posted by Matt in London @ 22:54 on Feb 28 2007

Romans 14:19 (That's for you, Peter)

Posted by Ellie in UK @ 21:32 on Feb 27 2007

It seems that you must have misunderstood the purpose of this album and the songs within it Peter. It is, quite simply, a collection of songs that worship Jesus and draw others into His lovely presence. Of course it uses scripture - that is how we learn how to worship. It was never intended as a performance album or the creation of a 'new sound'. I hope that you will be urged to listen again and be drawn, as I have, closer to Jesus. Thank you Chris and Jennie.

Posted by Rob in UK @ 23:07 on Feb 26 2007

I read this review around the 20th Feb when the first comment appeared but feel now I have to add something.

Firstly I have to say the review was a little harsh in my view and also framed in somewhat prevocative language.

Having said that, the extreme responses to it above were such that it encouraged me to go and visit Chris and Jennies website and listen to the clips on there.

Yes, I'm sure they are lovely, well meaning people and yes, they are doing a fine thing in using their gifts to support such a good cause etc. but.... how many songs have been written using exactly the same words lifted from scripture already? Do these songs add anything new to our understanding of what scripture means? Do they take us places in worship we've not been before? The truth is there's been dozens of similar songs produced in the last 15 to 20 years so they don't score highly on the originality front.

I may not agree with the reviewers delivery in this case but I still think he does have a point.


Reply by Rob in UK @ 17:04 on Mar 16 2007


I've read back thro my previous comments on here and can't find anywhere I suggetsed that truth should be sacrificed in the name of originality. Consequently the bulk of your reply seems to be aimed at a position I do not hold.

The reviewer (Peter Dilley I believe his name is. Referring to him as "Dilley" indicates an unnecessary degree of anger on your part) suggested it wasn't anything different to most other worship CDs. You (and a bunch of other people from Chris and Jennies church I'm guessing, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on that) clearly disagree and feel indignant about the tone of the review.

Setting aside the issue of the tone of the review (which I think we agree on) what would you rather the reviewer had said? Its a worship album and the money donated all goes to a good cause so 10 out of 10? I think a review like that would be dishonest if the reviewer felt as strongly as Peter clearly did. Sacrificing truth in the name of......what exactly?

We seem happy to sing our heads off with words of truth and love, but seem unable to handle the two together when they have to come off the page of the music book and apply to how we live and speak.

I realise I have one finger pointing at you and the others pointing back at me!

[report abuse]

Reply by Dan in UK @ 16:20 on Mar 13 2007

The predominant view on music and lyrics, both in Western Christian culture and also in secular Western society, is that novelty of expression is of primary importance. This is a result of our consumer culture, in which consumption (in this case, the consumption of worship music) leads to personal happiness. I am suggesting that what is more important is expression of truth.

I am not the first person to hold this view. William Booth and the Salvation Army, in the late nineteenth century, sang Christian truth to the tunes of popular songs of the day, to great effect. Away from Christian efforts, the movement which used music to create arguably the greatest impact on modern society was the Civil Rights movement of the Fifties and Sixties. African-American spiritual songs and traditional folk tunes were either given new lyrics or sang unchanged, because the truth of the words, accompanied by simple instrumentation, was so powerful.

Maybe you believe that these movements would have had even greater success if they'd used shiny brand new songs, that were interesting and brought happiness through their consumption. If you do, then yes, we will have to agree to disagree. But I don't think you do.

And actually, all this talk of originality is bizarre. I had never heard a garage rock worship song before 'I will dance for the Lord'. 'Praise the name of Jesus' features a Queen-evoking 24-part vocal harmony that is unlike anything I've heard from worship music since the Second Chapter of Acts. This five-track EP has more new ideas than most full albums, so I still don't know what Dilley is really angry about.

[report abuse]

Reply by Rob in UK @ 15:03 on Mar 4 2007

Hi Dan,

Sorry, no I disagree. Musical and or lyrical innovation can help, with the Holy Spirit, in taking us where we've not been before. If that was not the case why is anyone bothering to write new songs?

I also disagree on the conclusion of your second point. Yes the Christian music industry is missing the point and losing its way badly, agreed. The problem however is in its lack of interest in originality. You only have to look at the 1001(or more) worship albums that all sound the same to see that. The industry has a set view on what it can sell and unless it fits in the narrow criteria that sells in bulk, generally they are not interested. Its driven by sales and not much else as far as I can see.

I think Peters point was that this album sounds like all the rest, well produced and played, standard scripture based lyrics. If you believe that is all we can/should offer to God in worship (in the narrow musical sense) then I think we're going to have to agree to disagree.

[report abuse]

Reply by Dan in UK @ 17:56 on Mar 1 2007

Hi Rob,

I would suggest that the chances of a song adding something new to our understanding of what scripture means by simply being novel are about as slim as Slimmer of the Year on the last day of Lent. If we're looking to be taken to 'places in worship we've not been before', then no amount of musical or lyrical innovation can help us; only the Holy Spirit can truly do that.

The fact that originality has come to mean so very much in the Christian music industry (whatever that actually means) shows how far gone that industry now is from the true purpose of worship. And I think this is part of what everyone above is so upset about; that Peter's review epitomises the attitude that says, Worship music is meant for the Christian's entertainment, not for God and certainly not for the poor. The way Mr Dilley chose to communicate himself - although thoroughly unchristian - is only half the issue.

[report abuse]

Posted by Mary, Director 4Life in UK @ 09:16 on Feb 24 2007

I could comment on the poor quality of this review - more of a rant than a review. How the argument about repetitive biblical lyrics was not mentioned in other reviews from Peter e.g. Taize albums. How the brilliant title track was not even reviewed - was this because it flawed the argument? How the quality of musicianship and musical arrangements was not reviewed. But others have commented on this already.

I could comment on the misrepresentation about donations and put the record straight. How Chris and Jennie don't take anything for the costs of the album but give every penny to the For Life charity at huge personal sacrifice. Is it the bucking of the trend of profiting from worship music that has so offended?

I could comment on the unprofessional nature of this review and how it comes across as a personal attack - probably why there have been so many comments in response to it.

However, at the end of the day, there is only one review that matters and we know from Jesus the basis of that review - the fruit.

So quite apart from the fruit of so many individuals who say their spiritual journey with God has been enriched through Chris and Jennie's album, I would like you to know that through their last two albums - The Message We Live and Emmanuel - they have raised nearly £20,000 to change the lives of hundreds of abandoned disabled children in Thailand through the charity For Life (

Well done Chris and Jennie. Heaven applauds you and so do we at For Life. You live the message!

Posted by Wes Sutton in UK @ 00:18 on Feb 24 2007

Wow Peter, this really got under your skin didn't it. I always respected the editorial stance of Cross Rhythms for being free of personal bias and possessing an objectivity which helped people experience a broad range of musical genre. Your review felt like it was written by someone who had preconceived ideas about what was good music and anything which failed to fall within that narrow band would automatically be branded substandard. Perhaps you should listen again - more carefully!

As far as your rather cheap comment regarding not seeking input from worship leaders within Ichthus - they did! Me! This review was beneath you Peter. I look forward to better from you!

Posted by Susie and Jesse in UK @ 18:29 on Feb 23 2007

Thanks to Chris and Jennie Orange for the great impact that their songs have had on the worship life of our congregation. They have led us into a greater understanding of what it means to come close to God, and have modelled sacrificial worship and God's heart for the poor in the way they give out their music freely in order to help disadvantaged children. We'd also like to express our disappointment with Crossrythms for allowing their website to be a platform for undermining the ministry of other Christians who live to serve Jesus. We love their music and think it rocks. :)

Posted by Lydia in UK @ 13:29 on Feb 21 2007

The bad news is, Peter, that when we get to the New Jerusalem we will be singing "Holy is the Lord" over and over again for all of eternity (Revelation 4). I don't think you are going to enjoy it much are you? And I don't think God minds repetition or these so-called 'cliches'.

Posted by Jane in London @ 00:07 on Feb 21 2007

As a new Christian I am really disappointed to have just read your review on Chris and Jennie Orange's album 'The message We Live'. In my opinion the title couldn't be more true of the lives I have seen them personally live out, and to read an article which undermines all the hard work and sacrafice that has gone into the production of this genuine public display of their heart makes me feel very sad.

Having spent many nights being lead in Jesus centred worship by these two humble, caring, kind, truely beautiful people it hurts me to see words used in their worship, but more importantly, taken directly from the scrptures, ridiculed in a mocking manner.

Surely in a christian context, reviewing should be culturally relavant but morally distinct. It should not use wordly tactics such as sarcasm or cynicism to undermine the ministry of a fellow christian. Why not write for HEAT magazine, they specialise in this type of 'lets all laugh at' review.

I would like to challenge you to rethink the way you review in the future, displaying the kind of maturity and wisdom I as a christian would expect from another christian writing for a national christian music magazine. I appreciate that you may not like this album, but mocking it in public to me seems unnacceptable.

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

Add your comment

We welcome your opinions but libellous and abusive comments are not allowed.

We are committed to protecting your privacy. By clicking 'Send comment' you consent to Cross Rhythms storing and processing your personal data. For more information about how we care for your data please see our privacy policy.