Songs for the Book of Luke: Music By the Church, for the Church

This year, in conjunction with our National Conference, The Gospel Coalition has released Songs for the Book of Luke, a collection of songs written and recorded by church musicians from across the country.

What’s held out as the “Gold Standard” of contemporary worship is often far from theologically sound. At its best, it’s emotional, contemporary, and relevant; at its worst, it’s divorced from both Scripture and also the heritage of hymn-singing and psalm-singing that has shaped Christian worship for a couple of millennia.

Fortunately, that’s not the whole story in Christian music these days. Many gifted songwriters, pastors, and artists serve local congregations with an eye toward both beauty and truth. They care about congregational singing. They care about content that can strengthen the weak and comfort the suffering. They care about creativity, embodying the psalmists’ call to “sing a new song.”

We want to highlight and encourage that work. After a nation-wide call for entries, more than 200 songs were submitted. Those were narrowed down to this collection of 13 songs, all rooted in the scriptures, all written for local congregations. The album was recorded last fall by Mike Cosper (of Sojourn Music) and a band assembled with church musicians from Florida, New England, Seattle, and many places in between. These artists have played with national touring acts and jazz legends, but more importantly, they are musicians who regularly get up in while it’s still dark on Sunday mornings to serve local congregations. It’s truly music by the church, for the church.

In just a couple of weeks, we’ll be gathering at our National Conference, spending these days together meditating on the Book of Luke. On Tuesday night, April 9, we’ll have a special concert to release this record. Part of the reason that TGC exists is to seek out and highlight the good work being done at local churches. I think this record accomplishes that purpose beautifully, and I think you’ll agree.

Check out the record hereYou can preorder it now and receive the full record as a digital download immediately at our bandcamp page.

The album will be available nationwide (and pre-orders will ship) on Tuesday, April 9—the same day as our concert at the National Conference.

  • Tim Wilson

    Just a quick tip. On your bandcamp site, there is a link to but that takes you to an error 404 site. You need to change it to for it to work.

    The album itself sounds great.

  • Moses Park

    This is a great resource for churches, but I fear that it’s most appropriate for churches with majority white congregations who enjoy this kind of music. I am a fan of Sojourn, Sovereign Grace, etc. but wish TGC would attempt to be more diverse in who they minister to (at least musically). I lead the music in an inner-city PCA church plant and we do our best to reflect musically the diversity in our neighborhood. Most people on the block wouldn’t resonate with the kind of musical genres that this compilation represents. Just wondering what others think about this topic. Thanks for your ministry, TGC.

    • Carlos

      I agree with you Moses. I’ve bought several albums from Sojourn, Sovereign Grace, Indelible Grace, et. al. but I do like to listen to music that I grew up with in church when I was young. I am, however, looking forward to the urban music project that Sovereign Grace Music will be coming out with in the near future.

  • David

    I really appreciate the spirit of this project. A worship music coalition demonstrating that we are united even though we come from different cultures and have different preferences. These are theologically and musically rich songs that every Church context can use, edifying one another and glorifying God.

    Moses, your concern can be solved in arranging. The best music is timeless and in a sense void of context. That’s the point of this project, they are encouraging us to frame these songs however we want and we can do so because we are all united in the truth contained in the content. The frame is subjective, the content is absolute and so regardless of our context, we are all saying the same truths.

    This album sounds great and yes it fits a particular part of the musical spectrum, but it’s intent, as expressed in the video on the album website, is to get this music to the Churches. On the album site they offer several different possibilities of how you might arrange the songs. They seem to be doing everything they can to reach a broad demographic.

    This obviously isn’t a compilation album, it’s a coalition album and that means that many different backgrounds are working toward one unified sound. Blessings brother.

    • Carlos

      David, I agree with your statement that arranging can solve his problem but that is only if you have the talent to do that. I, for one, am an amateur musician. I play for fun and don’t know musical theory, can’t read music, etc. So, I have to take the chords as they are and play the music.

      One thing that I noticed about the people that had their songs accepted for this project is that they are all white. So, their music will reflect their context which doesn’t always resonate with Latinos, Asians or Black brothers & sisters in Christ.

      • David

        Hi Carlos,

        I think that in your case, where you do not have the theory or musicianship then fitting into a particular genre *in the context of worship* is a detail that should not be on our radar as worship leaders. When we make our preferences absolute while making cultural context(s) superior to the transcendant context of God’s Peculiar People then we are in fact arguing for true separatism rather than the seeming separatism you are admonishing (i.e., the song selection for this album).

        As I said to Moses, this is very important, the Songs for the Book of Luke album is NOT a compilation album, it is a coalition album. This includes many different contexts working together to make one unified sound… separate in culture and preference but unified in essence.

        There is no such thing as theologically rich music that doesn’t resonate with Christian Latinos, Asians or Blacks, yet there is plenty of MUSIC that does not relate to Latinos, Asians or Blacks. Do you see the important difference? If we base our ministry context around our cultural preferences then we promote cultural unity rather than Christian unity and have a Church full of people who look and think the way we do. This is not peculiar. The world knows us by our love for each other. This love does not occur at a distance, but it is peculiar because we are people from every tribe, tongue and nation within one community context. This should be our aim.

        Blessings brother.

        • David

          Also, this is why I too can look forward to the urban music project by Sovereign Grace. :)

        • Carlos

          I didn’t even understand your first paragraph. I’m not really sure what you were saying there. I do believe, however, that theologically rich lyrics, not music, resonates with Christians of all backgrounds. The actual music is a different story. I’m not saying that I don’t like the music because I do. I wouldn’t have bought it otherwise. I listen to a diversity of music but I really love hymns and rap music from certain rappers of the Reformed persuasion (Timothy Brindle, Shai Linne, Lecrae, etc.) because their lyrics have one thing in common, both rich theologically.

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  • Zac Hicks

    Thank you all for putting this together and for beginning to envision what the “spill-over” into our corporate worship could look like with the content of these conferences. It was a joy to be at the Gospel Coalition this week and hear many of the artists lead these songs…truly moving, especially in the context of the great preaching through the book of Luke. Well done! Keep it up!

  • David Gentiles

    I was curious about what worship music is actually shallow and devoid of theological truth. I am a worship leader and writer myself and have heard much about the “lack” of options for good worship music these days. I think that it’s difficult to make general statements like that because they can be easily applied to any record released when in fact there are many great records that are both extremely singable and sound scripturally. My concern is more that we are artistically leaving the church behind in our music-making. Even the music on this record, which is really beautiful, isn’t necessarily easy to catch from a congregational standpoint. I think we need to return to an even more contemporary root of melody and lyric singing from the late 90s and 2000s when worship music began to take a new turn. Many of those songs were immediately singable and contextual in the life of a living body. I would hope that if we’re going to continue moving forward with Worship music, that we are sensitive to be just artistic enough to inspire the body, yet theologically sound and simple so that the lyric and melody can actually be returned to the Lord in corporate praise. If a melody and lyric takes too long to grab, it will never be returned to the Lord in song … on Sundays or any other day of the week.