The Music Exchange from Richard Simpkin: I love Colin!

Music Exchange

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Colin Buchanan writes songs for kids that hook truths into hearts.

And not just My God is So Big truth. Colin hooks big truths like the sovereignty of God, substitutionary atonement and judgment for sin into kids’ hearts. My boys have been singing deep truths like this since they were four years old:

Every tick of the clock is ruled by the hand of God.

Remember the Lord – remember that he is in control.

God never says oops, never slips up, never makes any mistakes.

Justice and mercy, anger and grace. Tender and holy, he is the Lord.

Ze baddest sickness in ze vorld is sin. Every single heart has got it in.

Big words that end in ‘shun’ (this song gives a one-line summary for key Bible doctrines like justifica-shun, substitu-shun and propitia-shun).

Hard truths with sensitivity

It’s not clunky theology though – he doesn’t just teach a doctrine (wham!) and move on. He sings hard truths with deep sensitivity, helping us delve into the rich nature of the compassionate God:

In wise and holy tenderness he has planned your story.

He’ll draw his children onwards to enfold them in his glory.

I’m hugely grateful that Colin has played his part in helping our boys to build their house on the rock of God’s Word, but he has also planted these truths in the hearts of their parents too.

It’s also rare to find such an accomplished musician, who is so rigorous in singing truth, but who can also do so with real humour and grace. Colin says in his latest CD: ‘I’m very grateful for the Reformed tradition which holds the Bible as the inspired Word of God and our authority for life and truth. That means I’ve been taught the Bible a lot over many years. And because it’s all God’s Word, I’ve been taught from all of it – the hard bits, the confusing bits, the deep bits, the beautiful bits, the challenging bits, the comforting bits’.

Direct from Scripture

Some of Colin’s songs are direct quotes from Scripture with the verses comprising part of the song, but the songs that don’t use direct quotes show that Colin is a man who is steeped in Scripture, and who has worked hard to understand deep truths not only for himself, but to communicate those truths to children. I especially appreciate the way he appeals to boys in the characters he uses in his songs.

As a musician, I’m hugely impressed by the way he transcends so many different styles in his songs – from rap to Bavarian kitsch to house to Elvis. It’s brilliant. This does mean that his songs are hard to replicate in a Sunday school setting with us less-than-talented musos who are stuck in a one-style-fits-all straightjacket, but there’s nothing in the Bible that says it’s wrong to sing along to a CD.

Travelling minstrel

Usually I’m not massively keen on the Christian travelling minstrel – there are lots of keen Christian musicians who ask to play in our church, and who bring their case of CDs to sell. The only problem is that if they’re playing in our church, they’re absent from their own, which should be giving them the regular teaching, discipline and accountability they need (particularly as musicians). I’ve noticed that as a result, nearly all the content of their songs is more focussed on the individual’s experiences of God, and less on the clear teaching of Scripture. That’s OK up to a point, but Colin’s songs give me confidence that he is a man who is regularly being fed truth by a pastor and congregation who know him.

I wish Colin was over in the UK more often, but if staying at home amongst his church family means he is able to keep writing with depth and quality, then I’m happy to wait as long as it takes – and if my boys are too old by the time he next comes over, I’ll go to his concert myself.

Richard Simpkin is Director of Music at St. Helen’s Church, Bishopsgate, London.

This article was first published in the August 2014 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.