THE ROMANS ALBUM
R O M A N S
What is the Romans Album?
Romans is a concept album based on all sixteen chapters of Paul's epistle to the church at Rome. It is a proclamation through music and poetry of what Paul penned through prose: Scripture exegeted and exposited in an imaginative, artistic voice, complemented by an array of musical styles and timbres that shed a unique perspective on God's word.
This album is a unique musical production. To borrow terminology from the western art tradition, it is perhaps best described as a modern version of an oratorio, which is a large piece of music for a group of singers and musicians that is usually about a religious subject. Romans even borrows from much of the musical language of traditional and historical western art music but combines it with contemporary popular styles such as rock and roll and jazz, as well as some folk styles like bluegrass and that of Hebrew culture.
The album is comprised of two main sections, or acts: chapters 1-8 and chapters 9-16. This division is not only symmetrical in regards to chapter numbers but is also mirrors the arch of Paul's narrative. Paul concludes one major flow of thought at the end of chapter 8, climaxing with an anthemic and resounding affirmation of our security in Christ. Chapter 9 begins a new yet related discourse, connected specifically to the nation of Israel. Physical copies of the album manifest this division clearly in their two-disc format.
Also reflective of the nature of Paul's epistle is the seamlessness of the 23 tracks. From start to finish, the music never really stops, though there are a few moments of dramatic pause. The composer took great care to connect song to song musically and textually what Paul connects argument to argument rhetorically. This creates a more unified, cohesive listening experience and gives greater meaning to each individual song. For example, the significance of the song "He Came to Die," which recounts Jesus' propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of those who place faith in Him, is amplified when heard in context of the preceding song "No Excuse," which describes how all mankind is sinful and is therefore without excuse before God.
Romans was composed by Cody Curtis (DMA) in 2014. He began working on this album in 2011 when his pastor in Greensboro, NC, who was preaching through the Book of Romans, asked him to write a song for the doxology at the end of chapter 11. Cody agreed and wrote "O the Depth," an almost verbatim setting of the doxology. The idea of putting the rest of Paul’s letter to music occurred to Cody shortly after, but typically as an outlandish and almost comical endeavor, since one song had only covered 3 out of 433 verses. Over the following years, he wrote a few songs from the first couple of chapters of Romans for pleasure, later realizing that setting the rest of the book could be feasible. At the beginning of 2014 he decided to give it a shot and wrote the remaining 19 songs.
Watch a one-minute explanation of "The Romans Album" by Cody Curtis
Listen to the Album
Reviews and Interviews
Music by Cody Curtis (“The Second Adam” co-composed by Melody Curtis).
Lyrics by Cody Curtis (“No Shame” co-written by Melody Curtis).
Produced, arranged, and orchestrated by Cody Curtis.
Engineered by Cody Curtis; drums and organ engineered by Dewey Boyd.
Recorded at Mattress Fort Studios; drums and organ recorded at Forty-one Fifteen.
Mixed by Dewey Boyd at Forty-one Fifteen. Mastered by Taylor Bray.
Artwork by Chris Hare; front cover texture by Pauline Moss, used with permission.
Lead Vocals: Thomas Griffith and Kelsie Leaf
Flute: Hannah Porter
Clarinet: Jordan Mathenia
Trumpet: Joey Moore
Trombone: Ryan Shaw
Harmonium: Thomas Griffith
Piano: Cody and Melody Curtis
Keyboard and Electronics: Cody Curtis
Acoustic guitar: Austin Gray, Shane Caver, and Thomas Griffith
Electric Guitar: Jay Griffith
Bass guitar: Matt Battistelli
Background Vocals: Melody Curtis, Cody Curtis,
Jay Griffith, Rob Griffith, Cameron Skonhovd
Violin: Paige Tang
Viola: Andrew Werner
Cello: Ben Rico
Speakers: Jonathan Baine, Michael Lee, Russ Pflasterer,
William Watson, Justin Wainscott
This album is dedicated to my wife, Melody Curtis,
who tirelessly encouraged and assisted me in this endeavor,
and my grandfather, Duane Piper,
who throughout my life taught me to love the Lord.
A project of this nature and magnitude bears the mark of many hands and much time. I am extremely grateful to everyone who has labored to bring this project to fruition.
Melody Curtis, my wife and biggest support, deserves more credit and appreciation than I can express. You walked beside me through the entire process, from envisioning to writing, from recording to editing. You have been my sounding board, my encourager, and my co-writer. Thank you dearly for sacrificing so much time to help me!
I am thankful to all the musicians and speakers who recorded on the album (see above). Our recording process was not professional (it was a mattress fort after all), but your skill and musicality elevated the quality more than I expected! Thomas Griffith and Kelsie Leaf deserve particular praise for their vocal work. You two are extraordinarily gifted musicians; thanks for believing in this project from the beginning and being willing to see it through to the end.
I am grateful to Union University for their continued partnership, particularly Todd Brady and Taylor Worley, who supported this project almost a year before they ever heard one note of music. Thanks for your faith in me. I am also thankful to Ran Van Neste, for helping me think through this project and for reading over my words to make sure I was sticking to the text.
Our home church in Jackson, TN, Pleasant Plains Baptist Church, encouraged and prayed for us when we were not sure whether we would ever finish these songs. Melody and I appreciate you immensely, both for holding up our arms when we were weary and for supporting us financially.
Dewey Boyd, who sacrificed numerous hours for this project, has my unending gratitude. Thank you for those initial phone conversations about how we could pull this off with such a small budget, for making it possible for us to record drums at your studio, for mixing the songs so attentively and sensitively, and for facilitating so many other aspects of the album. I am grateful as well to Taylor Bray, for your willingness to and thoughtfulness in mastering the album.
There are a handful of others who also deserve my thanks: Brady Heyen, for lending us recording equipment; Riley Pope, for heading up our videos; Haaken Magnuson, for your great photo-work; my parents, for your support; and the congregation and pastors of Shepherds Fellowship of Greensboro, for your overwhelming support and love of our music ministry years before this project a possibility. Psallos exists because of you. Please accept our most sincere appreciation.
Psalm 127 teaches a profound truth: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (v. 1). This was certainly the case for Romans. The Lord was gracious in revealing the words of Scripture to Paul; the Lord was also gracious in allowing me to write music about those words. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! May these songs encourage and instruct God’s people, for God’s glory.
“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.” (Rom. 11:36)