Music Review: Casting Crowns' "Until the Whole World Hears"

Singer Mark Hall talks about his inspiration for Until The Whole World Hears

Reunion Records
Release Date: November 17, 2009

When he was a young youth pastor, singer Mark Hall would receive letters of encouragement from his mentor; always containing the signature line "until the whole world hears".  Little did anyone know this send-off would become both anthem and title track of Casting Crowns' latest release, Until the Whole World Hears.  Each of the tracks on this CD is based on the musical ministerial outpouring from each of the band members' Wednesday night student ministry.  In effect, they are messages converted to songs.  Commenting in CCM Magazine, Mark Hall stated, "Musically, our goal is not to split atoms or break new ground. There are plenty of people to do that. Being that I'm also a youth pastor, the music is the plate the meat is served on. So when we're figuring out what we're going to say, we're trying to create a musical atmosphere that doesn't detract from the message. I think there are plenty of great lyrics out there, but the song draws so much attention to itself that the message gets lost."

The signature Casting Crowns sound is present on Until the Whole World Hears.  Mark Hall's emblematic vocals, together with Megan Garrett's clear resonant harmonies work together to deliver a passionate lyrical punch.  The compositional strength of each song is solid and intentional.  For those looking for a boppy power rock CD, there are few selections on this release that fall in that category.  Mostly, the songs are profound with substantial weight and thought in the lyrical content. (There are no musical afterthoughts on this CD!)  The title track Until the Whole World Hears is the band's call to live a direct and intentional life as we exist in, and broadcast the Good News to, the culture.  Mark Hall explains, "'Until the Whole World Hears' are lines of the things that John the Baptist said – into a culture that did not want to hear it.  He was so black-and-white, and he was speaking into a grey world saying black-and-white things.  And it cost him his life."  This same deliberate message is conveyed in the title track; responding to a culture in need of a new look at Jesus. 

May the powers of darkness tremble as our praises rise/ Until the whole world hears Lord we are
calling out/ Lifting up Your name for all to hear the sound/ Like voices in the wilderness we're
crying out/ as the day draws near/ we'll sing until the whole world hears…

The weariness of seeing a sinful corrupt world seems to weigh in some of the band's lyric content on this CD.  This is seen in songs like "If We've Ever Needed You".  The song is melancholy, with a longing for God to stir us in a different direction than where we have taken ourselves.

Here I cry/Lord we pray/our faces down/ our hands are raised. You called us out/we've turned away.
With shipwrecked face/idols raised/we do what's right in our own eyes/our children now will pay the price/we need your light/Lord shine your light…
If we've ever needed you, Lord it's now/ Lord it's now.

On the other hand, "Joyful Joyful" is a personal highpoint on the CD.  It's a noteworthy modern treatment of Beethoven's "Ode To Joy" from his 9th Symphony.  Following the trend that many in CCM are doing these days, Casting Crowns amalgamates the centuries-old hymnody of "Ode To Joy" with a catchy pop chorus.  Adding strings to the band's arrangement is a great touch that yields a big sound and a catchy uplifting worship song. 

Staying focused on mission, Casting Crowns brings an increased urgency to their musical message with Until the Whole World Hears.  For Casting Crowns fans, this release is a significant work the band has put out – with an urgent message and deliberate music writing as its setting.   


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