CRC Music’s debut album is as much spiritual as it is artistic, reviews Ace Moloi
Good morning, CRC
The year is 2011, my first year of tertiary education. If my memory is still sharp, the month is of April. Yes, let’s assume so: April, 2011. Elegantly dressed students are standing by the Mooi Meisies fountain near the University of the Free State’s main gate. They’re from various residences and nearby student houses.
Although this particular April Sunday is deadly cold, some of them have remained loyal to the outfits they went to bed having prepared last night. They’re resolute that if the mind rejects the cold, the body will not feel it. Resist the cold and it will flee.
After a few more steps, I too am now a part of this group. Together we queue up for the bus, which seems small-sized, given our piling numbers. Indeed, we fill it to capacity and, needless to say, we – men – have to stand up in order for women to be seated.
I have no idea where we’re going, as the bus drives out of the main campus of this racially controversial institution, turning left into Nelson Mandela Drive for a brief 200m moment, before following the off-ramp at the next intersection, stopping here and there to take in more passengers, until finally joining its Interstate family of busses parked outside this place that looks like the headquarters of a very important organisation.
“We’ve arrived,” my neighbour says, signalling that I should join the alighting masses in my immediate left. Down on the ground, we file along through the gates into the yard that encamps the building with a brownish-red roofing.
The building itself seems like a supplementary campus of our university, or a college on its own. There are smiling faces at every door, greeting and wishing people a blessed service.
If the people, the building and the hospitality have left me wondering what manner of heaven this is, the spacious splendour that welcomes me inside prove to be a miracle of my life. Neat rows, a big stage, bright lights, well-mixed sound and long aisles all form part of the church auditorium the size of a stadium. He banna!
I follow my group up the stairs to the balcony. Looking down from this pedestal, I remember my childhood days when I’d watch live Premier Soccer League (PSL) matches at Charles Mopeli Stadium, pinching myself in awe of the sight of my on-the-field heroes.
Never before have I ever seen so many people – definitely over 3 000 – gathered under one roof for the purpose of praise and worship. The largest number of gathered believers I had seen heretofore didn’t even exceed 100, and it was for a scheduled occasion such as the Holy Communion, or the first Sunday of a new year. This here was aesthetically astounding, and culturally startling, and as I’m busy having a moment of admiration, suddenly the people around me rise to their feet all at once to cheer back at a voice from the stage which I now know to have screamed, “Good morning, CRC.”
CRC: the vision, the mission and the passion
CRC, abbreviated from Christian Revival Church, is arguably the fastest growing Christian movement in Africa. Founded in 1994 by Pastor At Boshoff and his wife Pastor Nyretta Boshoff, it is a multicultural mega church originally rooted in Bloemfontein, but now boasting a wide national and international footprint.
Every Sunday, thousands of believers flock into its premises for the so-called Celebration Service. Fully persuaded that there is no distance in the realm of the spirit, and in line with its commitment of building one church in many locations, CRC makes use of technology to reach as many souls as possible.
Within the geopolitical context of Bloemfontein, the church has a distinct style of praise and worship, which simultaneously shocks the conservative rural boy and charges the free-spirited urban kid with joy. This contrast is mostly prevalent in the youth-dedicated evening revival meetings.
If the praise music filters personalities, worship songs unite the whole church in spirit as musicians speak to the inner man and massage those innermost aspects of our being that need sensitivity.
EXPLOSION: form and content
CRC Music’s debut album is named after the CRC’s theme for 2017: EXPLOSION! It is as much spiritual in its content as it is artistic in its delivery. It is available on Google Play Music, iTunes, CRC Bookshop and other outlets.
The fact that the album is distributed worldwide didn’t make the band deviate from the dynamic praise and heartfelt worship culture of the church. Instead, they presented the sound in its raw form, so that it becomes a large breast from which nations of the world will suckle and be whole.
EXPLOSION consists of 11 songs, with Glorious Engagement and Set Free being the people’s favourites. But there’s more from this chart-topping offering, and this text seeks to illustrate its spirituality and artistry.
My absolute favourite is I Will Trust You, seconded in no order of favouritism by Found, It Was For Freedom, Suddenly and the studio version of Praise Him. Other songs in the album are: Come Home, Show Me Your Way, No More Shuffling and Bigger.
The songs in the album were inspired during Pastor At’s sermons, and carry a heavy message of hope, grace, restoration, purposeful living and trust in the Lord.
By virtue of the music being a derivative of Pastor At’s series, the album’s lyrics are inspired by scripture. Owning this album is like walking around with tailored whispers of God, which direct your path and fill you up with wisdom.
The band beautifully packages this sound in an instrumentally neat and professional manner, so that the keys (Kwanda Myeni), bass (Lufuno Muthala), drums (Lethabo Modise), first guitar (BF Mel) and second guitar (Nihan Olivier) minister to the soul before and after vocalists sing unto the Lord.
In Found, Tsidi Gude takes Pastor At’s 2016 series – On Christ the Solid Rock – and delivers it musically, with her unique vocal touch only an African worshiper possesses.
The profession of faith in Christ the solid rock yields total obedience and dependency, as all else is sinking sand. I Will Trust You is the ninth track in the album. It is a declaratory and bold statement of faith, which urges all of us to repeat after it: “I believe You are God and I will follow You. There’s none greater than Creator of the world. I will trust You.”
I Will Trust You is an anthem for everyone who lives on the edge of possibilities. It is a divine companion in the loneliness of the journey of faith. It cheers you up when everything around you jeers you down. Laurent Silvinho’s voice is perfect for this song to accomplish its goal.
Above all else, the song teaches you to wait on the Lord, renew your strength and mount up with wings like eagles. We therefore have this assurance that if we trust in the Lord, our turn is coming to experience a glorious engagement and the mysteries he lavishes on us Suddenly, so that we can join Rhulani Garrine in singing, “Suddenly, Your power is here. Suddenly, I feel You near.”
Verily, verily, I say, “The Lord whom you seek will come suddenly.”
Glorious Engagement seamlessly catches the fire from I Will Trust You with a powerful message of God’s faithfulness, responsiveness and perfect timing. Every moment God is there. He is always waiting to engage, if only we seek Him.
His touch – the touch of His love – produces a glorious engagement that explodes into blindingly bright suddenlies of mercy, provision, acceptance, and chosenness.
Led by Lendel Moonsamy, the song is a striking force of the album, and has found a home in many believers’ hearts, at home and abroad.
The sacrifice of Jesus Christ was for mankind’s freedom from the devil’s fork, and this is a centremost message in Set Free, fronted by Jeffrey Moffat, and It Was For Freedom, which is titled after Pastor At’s #ItWasForFreedom sermon and has the duo of Anesu Takariwa and Precious Posholi at the forefront.
Praise Him, No More Shuffling and Set Free will without a doubt take the global church by force when it comes to inspired, electric and Godly boastful praise.
They give a taste of the atmosphere in the Sunday evening service, and make you lose any religious morals that might hold you back from tapping, clapping, shouting and jumping.
With a scene of disco lights and instruments that are louder and faster than the morning meetings, you’ll see hands up, lifted high, shining bright the light of Christ, for we’re alive, we’re running, we’re set free.
Ace Moloi is the Editor of ART STATE and Author of HOLDING MY BREATH and IN HER FALL ROSE A NATION. He is on Twitter as @Ace_Moloi