Every love has a story. This is true about Brad and Rebekah. The Brad and Rebekah story unfolds when Brad Bischsel was a college student in North Central University in Minneapolis, MN. He was in an all boy-band. Needing a female lead for a song the band was performing Rebekah happened to walk passed the boys. Catching Brad's eye, Rebekah was unanimously voted in to sing with the boys. Brad and Rebekah have had been singing together ever since that fateful evening. But that was only where the love story began. Married in 2006, Brad and Rebekah have together resolved to immerse themselves to tell an even greater love story, the Gospel of Jesus Christ through music. Two years later, they took a step of faith by becoming full time itinerant worship leaders. Thus far, they have released three worship projects. "When We Gather" is their fourth worship album together. And like their previous efforts, Brad writes all the songs here. But this time, he does it in partnership mostly with Kipp Williams and producer Joshua Silverberg. The heart of this anointed couple is to see God's people gathering together in worship. Though "When We Gather" is a studio recording, you can feel the excitement, the anticipation and the energy bursting forth for us to join in too in worship.
"When We Gather" walks the line between the anthemic and the introspective. "Wake Up" is a prime example of the former. Pumped with a contagious kinetic energy, you can feel that this is more than just a song to Brad. You can feel his heart almost popping out of the speakers on this rollicking call to the church to be recharged for God's purposes. Rebekah, whose voice has the rich layered Nicole Nordeman-esque overtones, is just as stellar on "Oh Such Love." The blasting guitar riffs, the tight drum rumblings, the layers of keyboard flourishes augment Brad and Rebekah in their great proclamation of Christ's work on the Cross in '"All You've Done." Nevertheless, the gem here is the title track "When we Gather." This song bears all the hallmarks of an excellent congregation worship song. With Scripture (particularly Matt. 18:19-20)in the background, the easy sing to remember words in the foreground and a memorable tune with a crescendo built-up all around, "When We Gather" is truly a gem.
Nevertheless, when Brad and Rebekah straddle to the more introspective songs, they do not disappoint either. With her tender vocal disposition, Rebekah naturally takes the lion's share of the lead vocals on the ballads. "Christ is Alive in Me" features some haunting strings and piano backings, is offered by Rebekah as a prayer for more Christlikeness in our lives. While "Lift Your Hands" again headed by Rebekah on the microphone has a soft-Adult Contemporary flow we have come to love about Christy Nockels or Kari Jobe. Nevertheless, the problem with tracks like "Be Here Now" and "Oh Great God" is this: the lyrics of these songs show signs of sloppiness. Take the latter "Oh Great God" as an example: "You reign forever/Prince of Peace/Faithful King/Closest Friend/You Reign Forever." Though all of the above appellations of Christ are true, they are so often recycled in worship songs that they beg the questions: what on earth do they mean to us now? How does Jesus being the Prince of Peace change us? As far as constructive criticisms go: the major weakness of this disc is that the lyrics over paints the general.
Nevertheless, though this is an independently released record, it has the immediacy, clarity and the standard of a major label. Also, you really cannot fault Brad and Rebekah as worship leaders, they truly inspire worship when they lead. And this album is full of gorgeous opportunities inviting us to worship together with them. For when God's people gather to proclaim the Greatest Love ever, he will storied our lives with testimonies of his life changing grace.