Rend Collective Experiment are a charismatic Irish Christian Group with an authentic folk sound reminiscent of Mumford and Sons. Their stripped back style and family attitude is revealed through their music and their love of Christ is so apparent.
Their first album was released in 2010, and was called Organic Family Hymnal and they later released an album called Homemade Worship by Handmade People in 2012. Most recently they released an album at the beginning of 2013 called ‘Campfire’ based on what they called ‘Campfire Worship’. When I think of campfires I think of a group of friends or family that are united and joyful, for me this is a key aspect of what the Church is.
Rend recorded the album on Ballyholme Beach in Northern Ireland. Prior to recording the band tweeted their location and invited locals to join them. This community aspect is evident in the music. This album is not written by wealthy American songwriters, it comes from an honest place, much like a campfire. Rend state that ‘nothing is more personal then sharing stories around a campfire; It is so intimate,’ and this is what I think we should be like as a church. As children of God we need to be open with one another, ‘Suffering and laughing together… Not some holy huddle where we pretend everything’s okay, but a real community’ of people that love God.
They not only wanted to tap into the personal side of us as a community but the personal side of God. Rend were inspired to tap into the human incarnate form of God opposed to the huge almighty God that we often sing to in ‘corporate’ worship.
Paul writes in Romans 15:13 ‘May the God of green hope fill you up joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope.’ (MSG) For me this sums up the album, overflowing emotions joy and hope. Rend themselves said in the commentary of the album, ‘We need to learn to celebrate; we need to choose His Joy.’
One of my favourite songs on the album is ‘Build Your Kingdom Here’. The lyrics are powerful as they state that Jesus wants to ‘Set the Church on Fire’. The image that ‘God is a consuming fire’ is used in Hebrews 12:29, as well as many other times in the Bible. Therefore this song is saying that God is setting the church alight and therefore we have the strength of God on our side. ‘We are the hope on earth.’ The song portrays the strong message that we, as the church, are a source of heat that the world can warm themselves around, and find light and safety through us.
A key feature of the album is the use of ‘woahs’ and space to sing out. Rend said in a Soul Survivor seminar ‘‘someone once said to us that woah’s aren’t very holy…and they’re right’. They explained how the lack of words shows how we have no words that fully encompass God’s greatness. The Hebrew word for this is Tehila – spontaneous song of the spirit/praise inhabited by God. Rend also stated how church should be evangelistic; a person walking into a church for the first time “may not agree with the theology but can agree with a ‘woah’’. Everybody should be welcomed into the church and feel like they can join in with some of the worship. ‘in the kingdom of God there are no outsiders.’
The album also reveals a sense of freedom and thus providing us with the ability to sing out and praise God. It reminds the church that ‘We have freedom now, because Christ has set us free’ (Galatians 5:1), and this freedom needs to be celebrated.
Rend have experimented with modernising older songs. They do this through ‘You are my vision’, a modern translation of the traditional Irish hymn ‘Be Thou My Vision’ that we have sung at church several times. This song has really helped me understand the lyrics and message behind the song.
I really recommend listening to this album especially if you need reminding of the joy Jesus brings to us and the community aspect of following Him.