Bread for the Journey

I saw Urban Doxology at the 2016 Calvin Worship Symposium worship service in Grand Rapids. I was taken by their upbeat sound, but their lyrics were saturated with theological wisdom that came from deep thought and reflection.

On their first, self-titled album, the gospel group from Richmond, Va., combined rap, R&B, neo-soul, and gospel. In Bread for the Journey, however, Urban Doxology risks forays into other musical genres. The 11-song offering, suffused with wonderful lyrics of biblical justice and racial reconciliation, refused to stay within the boundaries of sacred music. This is a good thing.

Taking a page from old 1970s Philadelphia soul sound, “You’ll Walk, You’ll Run” is a great song to listen to on the road. The group dips into reggae with “Fights for Me,” showing their willingness to find common ground with international music. The album ends with an upbeat, Latin-flavored “Que Seas el Autor.”

The group, anchored in the Cherry Hill section of Richmond, offers attentive ears and the conviction to write songs with theology that speaks to the urban context. “Hear O Israel” is a 21st-century rendition of the Jewish Shema, with an urban lament for justice and righteousness in the hard places along the Christian journey.

This album would be a wonderful addition for anyone expanding their canon of excellent gospel music.

About the Author

Reginald Smith is director of race relations and social justice for the Christian Reformed Church. He attends Madison Square Church in Grand Rapids, Mich.

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