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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.

An Overview of the Book of Romans

with track numbers from the album

c h a p t e r s    o n e    t h r o u g h    e i g h t

 

[1] – Prelude – [2] I am Paul, [3] and I am not ashamed of the gospel, which is the good news of salvation through faith in Christ. [4] The gospel teaches that while every human being’s unrighteousness renders him inexcusably condemned before God, [5] – Interlude – [6] the Lord instead punished His righteous Son, Jesus Christ, so that He may freely forgive those who place their faith in Christ. [7] Abraham, who is the father of all who believe, both Jews and Gentiles, exemplifies this working of justification by faith, [8] and if you, like Abraham, have been reckoned righteous by faith, then you have peace with God and a sure hope of eternal life.

 

[9] Sin entered the world through Adam; forgiveness of sins comes through Jesus – the Second Adam. [10] “Does God’s grace to us lead to greater sin?” By no means. It leads to greater conformity to Christ who has set you free from the bonds of sin. [11] “But if I am free from sin, then why do I continue sinning?” The power of the flesh still remains in part, but God who justified you will sanctify you in Christ until you are glorified. [12] Indeed, through the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s children will be made to live more like their Father. [13] Even in the midst of suffering, you can look ahead to the glory to come, when Christ fully redeems His people. [14] Our hope is truly secure and nothing will separate us from the love of God.

 

 

c h a p t e r s    n i n e    t h r o u g h    s i x t e e n

 

[15] My heart breaks for Israel, my kinsmen, for they have rejected their Messiah. [16] “Does this, then, mean that if God is not saving Israel, though He promised them salvation, that He will not fulfill His promises to save the Church?” By no means. First you must understand that there is a difference between ethnic Israel (Abraham’s children of the flesh) and true Israel (Abraham’s children of the promise). God will save all of true Israel, that is, His elect. [17] “Is God unjust if he saves some and not all?” By no means. God, who is sovereign, may save whomever He chooses, [18]  – Interlude – [19] and He chooses to save people from all over the world – all who call upon His name, which includes a remnant of ethnic Israel. [20] This act of salvation is incomprehensibly amazing! Great is the Lord and worthy is He of all glory and praise!

 

[21] Therefore, in light of these truths about God and salvation, lay down your life as a living sacrifice to Him, obeying Him in all things by loving Him and loving others. [22] – Interlude – [23] So long and farewell to you, the church at Rome. May our Lord bless you.

Credits

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.

 

The Players 

Lead Vocals: Thomas Griffith and Kelsie Leaf

Flute: Hannah Porter

Clarinet: Jordan Mathenia

Trumpet: Joey Moore

Trombone: Ryan Shaw

Violin: Paige Tang

Viola: Andrew Werner

Cello: Ben Rico

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

Drums: Clark Bilbrey

 

Background Vocals: Melody Curtis, Cody Curtis,

Jay Griffith,  Rob Griffith, Cameron Skonhovd

 

Speakers: Jonathan Baine, Michael Lee, Russ Pflasterer,

William Watson, Justin Wainscott

 

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© 2017 CODY CURTIS MUSIC