Courage by Stuart Townend 

Townend's new album goes beyond the usual subjects and he continues to be one of our most gifted worship songwriters, writes Andy Goodliff 

Courage Stuart TownendThis is a new album from Stuart Townend. It follows, earlier in the year, a new album — Keep the Banner Flying High — from Graham Kendrick. Both albums demonstrate that these two remain our most gifted worship songwriters. What makes them stand out are good melodies, great lyrics and arrangements that the average local congregation band can play. What I have found increasingly disappointing from the younger generation, like Matt Redman, Tim Hughes et al is that they are generally failing in these three areas where Townend and Kendrick excel. 

Townend’s Courage album emerges following the death of his brother Phil, and he explores the impact of his death in two songs at the centre of the album - Courage and Keep you Here. The honesty of these songs is powerful. The latter features Phil on the vocals, recorded when his diagnosis of terminal cancer was known. Sandwiched between these two songs is a version of the Apostle’s Creed — a statement of belief in the face of pain and grief.

The album begins with a series of praise songs, which shadow later themes. The first song speaks of ‘the saints who lived and died in grace’ and the third song, based on Psalm 145, of God as the one who ‘binds the wounds of those who mourn.’

Track five, I am Here for You, shifts the tone. It is co-written with Stuart’s daughter Emma and is about living with depression and anxiety. Emma co-wrote three of the songs with her father on this album and demonstrates that the Townend gene may continue beyond Stuart.

This is a good album that goes beyond the usual subjects for worship songs and speaks to our mental and spiritual health. I don’t always agree with Townend’s theology, especially that of the atonement, but this is a album full of grace, truth and beauty.  

Andy Goodliff is minister of Belle Vue Baptist Church, Southend 

Baptist Times, 16/11/2018