Slugs and Bugs CDs

Slugs and Bugs - Under WhereI’ve mentioned this before, but one of the ways that Sarah and I trying to branch out here at the ol’ blog is to include non-book resources in our library of reviews.  Up today are the fantastic Slugs & Bugs CDs!

What first drew me to Slugs & Bugs was Andrew Peterson, who co-created the first S&B album with Randall Goodgame.  I’ve been an Andrew Peterson fan for years (please tell me you know and love his Christmas album!) and I’d listen to anything by him.  We all know there is plenty of children’s music out there that we’d really rather not listen to, but I was absolutely sure that if Andrew Peterson was behind a CD for kids it would be worth trying out.  And… I was right!

Since the first Slugs and Bugs album, Randall Goodgame has taken the driver’s seat (though Andrew Peterson does make appearances in each recording) and now I can say that I’d listen to anything he writes or sings as well.  Randall has an incredible knack for songwriting for children and their parents.  His funny songs are hilarious.  His serious ones are tender and moving.  His God-centered ones are just right for little ones – he deals with all sorts of meaty topics but always in ways that communicate God’s love towards children.

Thematically there is an incredible variety of songwriting going on in these CDs and I adore that about them.  Over the course of an hour you hear an ode to Mexican food, a song about confessing wrongdoing, a moving lullaby, and a song about potty training.   The silly songs and the spiritual songs and the sleepytime songs are all right there together, comfortably side by side.  In other words, it’s just like life.  We can’t artificially divide ourselves into mind and spirit and body, and the Slugs & Bugs songs really reflects that.

Our very favorite way to listen to Slugs & Bugs is a playlist with a handful of songs from each album, but I personally think that the best album as a whole is Under Where? so if you’re new to Slugs & Bugs I’d recommend starting there.  All of the current CDs are available at Rabbit Room (do yourself a favor and poke around there for a few minutes) and the most recent two are at Amazon, too.  Happily, there’s a new one coming out this fall, but this one will be slightly different:  just like the wonderful Seeds Family Worship, all of the songs will be Scripture set to music!  You can check out the details on their Kickstarter page and see lots of song previews at the Slugs & Bugs blog.  We will be the first ones in the (virtual) line ready to buy it on release day!

S&B 3

To Be Like Jesus

To Be Like Jesus

One of my Easter traditions is placing a new Christian CD in my children’s Easter basket.  Last year I took a gamble and bought To Be Like Jesus, which was a gamble simply because I’d never listened to it – I’d never even heard anyone talk about it, as far as I can recall.  It’s been listened to a lot this past year and in the process has become one of our family’s very favorite albums.  In fact, when Sarah and I decided that we were going to expand our blogging horizons to include music reviews, I knew right away that it was one of the first ones I would write about.

The music of To Be Like Jesus is upbeat and catchy (in a good way!) and my daughter loves that the songs are sung by children as well as grown-ups.  The really outstanding feature of this album, though, is its lyrics.  The fruit of the Spirit is the overall theme of the CD and after the title song there’s a track devoted to each of the fruits, plus two others sandwiched in the middle.  The folks at Sovereign Grace have done an outstanding job of not turning the work of the Spirit into moralistic rules we must try very hard to obey.  Rather, in each of the songs there is acknowledgement that the fruit of the Spirit “grow in those who trust in you,” that we love God because he first loved us, that sin makes us want to go our own ways, and that intimacy with Christ is what will make us more like him.  This is no try-hard, be-a-good-person Christianity; it’s the real, grace-filled, true gospel deal.

I love to turn on To Be Like Jesus and see my almost 1-year-old start bopping around and hear my almost 4-year-old sing the fantastic lyrics… but to be honest, the reason I love this CD so much is for another reason entirely.  See, when we get up in the morning and it I can tell it’s going to be “one of those days” or when we’ve been cross with one another all afternoon, playing this album helps us turn it around.  Quite honestly, my soul sighs with relief about two lines into the first track as I remember what it is, exactly, that I’m trying to do with my life in the hard moment in which I find myself.  Just as much as my children, I need the reminder to look to Christ as my example and to rely on the Spirit as I pursue godliness, and this CD really has been very helpful to our whole family as we seek to know Jesus and find our life in him.  Of course, it also helps that the music makes you want to dance around the living room – it’s so joyful!

To sum up: this is most definitely one CD that is worth buying and I highly recommend it for Easter listening.  The mp3 album at Amazon is the cheapest way to purchase it at present, but if you prefer to have an actual CD the prices at the Sovereign Grace store are better.

Seeds Family Worship

Up to this point we’ve focused almost exclusively on literature thus far at Aslan’s Library, but I’m sure you all know that it can be just as hard to find artistically beautiful theological music for kids.  For that reason, Sarah and I would like to start including music reviews, on occasion, alongside our book reviews.  First up are the CDs from Seeds Family Worship.

The Seeds CDs have been part of our family’s soundtrack for several years now (they’re our favorite car music) and we love them all.  For those of you not already familiar with their work, their mission is to “plant the seeds of God’s Word in the hearts of families” and to encourage families to worship together.  A worthwhile goal, indeed!  The albums are obviously lyrically rich, but the accompanying music is also nicely done and artistically diverse (i.e. the songs don’t all sound the same), which in my book equates to Parent-Friendly.  My family has all of the CDs and we all honestly enjoy them – out of the entire set there are only a couple of songs that aren’t favorites.

The 7 seeds albums are themed collections of Scripture set to music.  The first 6 themes are courage, faith, praise, purpose, encouragement, and character.  I love that the newest album (The Character of God) goes through a set of verses about the traits of God, from love and light to wise and faithful, and ends with a great song about trusting the Lord from Psalm 20:7.  I don’t know how many Seeds CDs are planned, but as long as they’re producing music as quality as the first 7 albums I’ll keep buying them all!  I regularly recommend them to my real life friends and I’m happy to recommend them here as well, not only for the music itself but also because you can’t beat singing and dancing to Scripture with your kids.  It’s an experience that is, as they say, priceless.

And now, a few details for those who are curious… The first 5 albums use the NIV, but with the 6th album they started using the ESV.  Each volume has 10-12 songs, some upbeat and some slower paced.  Digital downloads are available on Amazon, but when you buy hard copies for just a few dollars more you actually get two (identical) CDs so you can share one with a friend.   I usually buy mp3s when I get new music, but with Seeds I prefer the hard copies.

When I wrote to the folks at Seeds to let them know I was planning a review, they kindly sent a coupon code for our readers.  So whether you’re discovering them for the first time, wanting the latest CD, or looking for gifts for the kiddos in your life, hop on over to the Seeds store and use ASLANSLIBRARY for 20% off your entire order (through the end of 2012)!

Music for the Meantime

Hello from the land of life with two children!  My little boy is nearly 2 months old now, which seems unbelievable.  It’s been a good 2 months, although sadly there hasn’t been time to do any reading or reviewing for the blog.  Sarah’s been really busy, too,  hence the lack of new posts recently.  One of these days we’ll get back into the swing of things because we’re as passionate as ever about the mission of Aslan’s Library, but for now we thank you for your patience with us.

In the meantime, though, I do have some great music to share with you!

  

First up is a new album for kids called Big Stories for Little Ones by Sandra McCracken and a few of her musical friends.  Its lyrics are taken from the text of one of the only board books we’ve reviewed here on the blog, Baby’s Hug-a-Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones.  The mp3 download of the entire album is only $8, but you can also get four of the songs free on Noisetrade!  This album is getting lots of air time at our house since my 3-year-old daughter and I both love it.

Next is an album put together by a variety of artists specifically for the season of Pentecost (which begins this Sunday).  Pentecost Songs is made up of 25 “songs and hymns written to celebrate the person and work of the Holy Spirit.”  This is my first year doing a playlist for Pentecost, as I’ve done for Lent and Advent, and this album is a great starting point!  If any of you have suggestions for other songs to listen to during the upcoming season of the church year, do let me know.

What have you been reading or listening to in the past few months?  Anything that we should consider reviewing here?

Songs for Advent

We Americans tend to jump straight to the celebration of Christmas without spending time waiting and preparing during Advent.  Here’s the drawback: just as observing Lent helps us understand Easter, inhabiting Advent is incredibly helpful for gaining a fuller understanding of the meaning of Christmas.

This season is a time to remember that the people of Israel waited for a savior for centuries, that Jesus didn’t just show up the first time someone asked for The Messiah.  We should learn from their persistent longing and faithful prayers, especially because Advent is also a time to focus on longing for Christ’s second coming.  As we think of the saints of old who waited with hope and of God’s faithfulness to keep his promise of a Savior, we will be encouraged to wait with hope for that Savior’s return in glory.

There are many good ways to observe Advent, but this year my family is making a concerted effort to listen to uniquely Advent songs until December 24th.  We’ll switch to Christmas songs for 12 days and then switch again to Epiphany songs on January 6th.  The list below reflects my effort (with the help of old church bulletins and posts at Cardiphonia and This Classical Life) to find songs for Advent that focus on the waiting and longing that preceded the first Christmas and the waiting and longing that are currently preceding Christ’s second coming.  Let me know what I’ve left out!

Songs for Advent

Playlists for Lent and Easter

Music for Lent

Most people have a stash of Christmas music and books that they whip out (at the very latest) right after Thanksgiving.  If you’re like me, when you think of the month of December your memories go straight to certain songs, picture books, and passages of Scripture.  I love the tradition of having a special set of music and books during that time of year because it helps me remember that something is different: we’re getting ready to celebrate the birth of the Savior!

Last year it dawned on me that if music and books help me get ready for Christmas, the same is probably true of Easter.  We’re reviewing books that fit with the season of Lent, of course, but I also wanted to share my lists of songs for Lent and Easter.  It’s an easy way to cultivate a certain atmosphere of your home and heart during these weeks of focused worship, repentance, devotion, and meditation on God’s great work for us in Jesus.

Many of the songs below are from the Indelible Grace albums, so if you have those and are creating a Lent playlist for the first time you’re practically set.  Please chime in with your own suggestions in the comments, or if you have a blog of your own we’d love if you would post your own list there (and link back to us so we can find you).

Lent

Easter

Thanks to the Cardiphonia blog and Alyssa for helping me get my own list started!