10 Doctrinally-Specific Modern Adventist Songs

When it comes to discussions of music in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, it's not uncommon to hear people urging us all to collectively "get back to our old Adventist hymns." But while there have been Adventist works preserved and enshrined in our hymnals, the majority of the songs we sing in church - whether traditional or contemporary - were not written by Seventh-day Adventists. This in and of itself is fine, but it does leave a bit of a gap in the space where we might otherwise discover Adventism's artistic voice.


But internet culture has rendered us all more connected, to some extent or another. And one by-product of this is the ability to discover new Adventist creatives who might have otherwise remained known only to their immediate social circles. This also coincides with an explosion in the availability of easy-to-use recording and producing technology, and a related boom in independent artists.


In light of all this, here is a list of ten relatively recent songs that explicitly express Seventh-day Adventist ideas. These are in no particular order.


(1) "Seventh-Day" by Contagious Faith & Lexa Arante


Based in Dallas, Texas, Contagious Faith is a worship group with a knack for catchy choruses. In particular, this song Seventh-Day is a powerful and infectious anthem for Sabbath observance, that strikes the perfect balance between lyrical precision and fun. The song manages to evoke some of the sounds of the 80s while still sounding current. The drum and synth sounds are especially retro, while the vocal melody is distinctly from the era of Millennials and Gen Z's. The simultaneous feelings of nostalgia and progression, while somewhat contrary to each other, actually complement the lyrical theme of the Sabbath - something very old that nevertheless continues on forward.


Why do they say they changed it? / What changed? What's different? / Saturday Sabbath is the holy day / Nothing has changed / Friday night to a Saturday night / Nothing has changed / Broken lives need it today more than ever / Today / Nothing has changed / That's the cry, oh for heaven's sake / Good things come on any other day / But meet him today / Wants to bless you on the holy day / On the seventh day


There is also a remixed version of the song by dandol that is definitely worth a listen for folks who are more inclined towards electronic production.



(2) "The Sabbath Song" by Laos In Harmony


The Sabbath Song by Laos in Harmony is a soaring, passionate Gospel ballad that acts as a powerful Sabbath invitational song. Following the lead of passages like Hebrews 4, this song urges and ushers the listener to enter in to God's Sabbath rest. The chord changes are lush and emotionally stirring, and the stereo-surround recording of the vocal ensemble sounds refreshingly natural for a modern production. Overall this is a beautiful number that should prove very easily adaptable for many church services. This song could easily become a staple in coming generations if enough people hear it.


Six days we have to do our best / But the seventh is His day of rest / You are welcome on this day / The Sabbath


(3) "Run" by Brad Nickel


Based on Hebrews 12:1-3, Brad Nickel's Run is an anthem of hope and perseverance. The pop-folk-rock crossover song looks longingly towards the coming of Christ and urges the church to join together in unity, straining towards that goal. The song shows its Adventist credibility when Nickel sings about the Three Angels Messages, as well as a reference to the 7 Trumpets in the book of Revelation, or possibly the trumpet blast of 1 Thessalonians 4:16.


Oh my, oh my / What do you know? / I can feel that fire burning in my soul / Hearing those Three Angels Message and the trumpets blow / That's how I know that we're almost home


(4) "The Wizard of Oz" by FLF


Seal the servants in the head or in the hand / Buy or sell while you can


With a spooky and foreboding atmosphere, FLF draws listeners into the mood of the classic Adventist evangelistic series. "The Wizard of Oz" draws on an Adventist reading of Revelation 13, identifying the sea and land beasts and drawing a connection back to Daniel 7. The reference to the popular secular story seems to be about the idea of a force "behind the curtain" maintaining an illusion.


But maybe it's conspiracy / a mystery. epiphany / the predicament of seeing the serpent's identity / The difference being that you persist to uncover the illusion and trickery / until what you get to see / paint a picture of history / Lions, tigers, bears, and dragons / Oh my! / Bronze, iron, teeth like daggers


(5) Miller and the Midnight Cry by Billy Otto


While Billy Otto has politely distanced himself from Adventism in recent years, we should always be thankful for this thoughtfully written song that steps into the headspace of the early Adventists. Lots of the younger crowd who attended the 2015 General Conference session in San Antonio may remember that this song was getting a bit of spotlight then, and it still holds up years later. This atmospheric, character-narrative folk-waltz of a song feels like the perfect encapsulation of a mysterious moment in time.


Lift your eyes / Look to the sanctuary / There you'll find / Ancient of Days


(6) "Temple of Time" by Matt and Josie Minikus


From singer-songwriter duo Matt and Josie Minikus comes another Sabbath-themed song, this time drawing on imagery that seems to parallel themes from the writings of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. The concept of the Sabbath as a "Temple in Time" is a beautiful one that speaks to the transcendent beauty that God built into this long-lasting spiritual institution. The second verse of the song does especially well at highlighting the classic Adventist point that Christ even kept the Sabbath during his death.


Holy day, purified / Set apart, sanctified / Enter into joy divine / In a temple made of time


(7) "This Is War" by Haynza


Haynza's allusions to Adventist doctrine manage to be both subtle and in your face on this track. On the one hand, the overt theme of spiritual warfare reflects the Adventist theme of the Great Controversy. But subtle lines in the chorus also reflect the Adventist conditionalist view of the afterlife and final judgment. With lines like "You could find eternal life, or you could die," the Australian Indie-Pop singer breaks away from typical Christian language about heaven and eternal hell.


So get ready this is war / Tell me what you’re fighting for / You gotta pick a side / It’s not fine / This is war / So get ready this is war / Tell me what do you want more / You could have eternal life / Or you could die / This is war



(8) "No High" by Jonathan Wright (featuring Wilfredo)


This song pops up on an album that was a decidedly diverse offering in terms of genre. Here, the hip-hop core of the song is accentuated by samples of traditional Gospel music, and supported by rhythms reminiscent of modern Afro-pop. With lines like "there's no high like the Most High," Christian rapper Jonathan Wright continues the longstanding Adventist tradition of health reform - advocating against the emptiness that can come with drug use. In a fascinating twist, though, Wright also manages to juxtapose the experience of drug use in one instance against sanctuary imagery in another. The result is a particularly unique combinations of Adventist ideas coming together musically in a way that maybe hasn't been explored before.


See I know that this world made me falter / Ran to the ganja / Shoulda ran to the altar / Church boy but the world made me ponder / And I got it twisted 'cause the devil had me conjuring up foolishness by running it up and rolling them bucks / And chasing a feeling but it's gone in a puff / So come to the Son / They say we'll never thirst for this stuff / But I don't know, if I'm keeping it blunt! / 'Cause it's easy to look in the rear-view / Patiently waiting for the Lord to appear to you / But he gave us a choice / And I choose to have faith / So if there's smoke on me now, it's 'cause I'm in the Holy Place


This song in particular has the benefit of an additional video by the artist, explaining the inspiration behind the track. Check that out here:



(9) "The Cave Diver" by Maxwell Kozen


I guess I'll include some of my really old material on this list. I wrote this one shortly after the death of my uncle - a beloved family member who had a really positive and open attitude towards life. While he was connected to church, he wasn't always particularly outwardly "religious," and at the time of his death I didn't know where he stood concerning Jesus. Even though I eventually found out from conversation with other family members that he had, in fact, made peace with God before his passing, I wrote the song with uncertainty in mind regarding his fate in eternity. Ecclesiastes 9:1-10 and 1 Corinthians 15 were strong reference points for much of the song. This was the first time I had used Adventist theology as a vehicle for writing a song that mourned the loss of a loved one while also celebrating the hope of the resurrection.


I've heard it said / "There is no more reward" / For walking dust is ever drawn back to its source / And shades in shadowed sleep / Are perished memories / A common destiny that we must all defeat before we sleep


Your spirit breaks / Your body bows its head / And we entrust your fate unto the Firstborn of the Dead / And hope that in his mercy we might yet see you again / In a better body than the one that showed us you were brave



(10) "End of Time" by Lawz


This song is perhaps one of the most stunning moments in contemporary Adventist music. Not only does Lawz expertly weave his lyrical path through a devotional panorama of Seventh-day Adventist eschatology, but the track also ends in a slower outro section with a substantial audio quotation from Ellen G. White's writings. Specifically, the song quotes the following three sections:


"[... In accidents and calamities] by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. " {GC 589.3}


"The last great delusion is soon to open before us. Antichrist is to perform his marvelous works in our sight. So closely will the counterfeit resemble the true that it will be impossible to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures."

{DD 36.1}


"Soon the battle will be waged fiercely between those who serve God and those who serve Him not. Soon everything that can be shaken will be shaken, that those things that cannot be shaken may remain." {9T 15.5}


"And Satan, surrounded by evil angels, and claiming to be God, will work miracles of all kinds, to deceive, if possible, the very elect. [...] God's tried and tested people will find their power in the sign spoken of in Exodus 31:12-18. They are to take their stand on the living word: “It is written.” This is the only foundation upon which they can stand securely. {9T 16.1}


Frankly, this rapper may have released the longest Ellen G. White quotation in recorded music. Or at least, the longest Ellen G. White quotation in the history of hip-hop! It may seem counter-intuitive to some Adventists, but the medium of Hip-Hop allows for the inclusion of audio samples from sermons, audiobooks, and other media. Which, in the case of an artist like FLF, means the occasional inclusion of Doug Batchelor sermon clips in rap songs. Or, in the case of Lawz, audio samples of direct Ellen G. White quotations about the end times. It's more evidence of the fact that regardless of medium, it's hard to kill the prophetic heart of Adventism.


Conclusion

The topic of music can be quite controversial and divisive in Adventism. But with the increasing democratization of recording and production technology, it was only a matter of time before we saw a ground swell of Adventist artists who could express the Advent message in contemporary musical language. For some, the question of finding a cultural identity for young Adventists to feel connected to and proud of seems like an answerless mystery. But perhaps, if we are paying attention, we would see that young Adventists have been handing us an answer all along: an entire untapped (and sometimes outright maligned) cohort of creatives doing their best to give a modern voice to timeless truths.


What about you? Do you know of any other artists or songs expressing specifically Adventist ideas? Leave your recommendations - whether old or new - in the comments, or on our social media!