You Are Holy

24 October 2012 Written by 

By Joshua Aaron
Produced by Joshua Aaron and
Review by Rachel Wolf

Joshua Aaron Manarchuck, known professionally as Joshua Aaron, is a worship leader of excellence and an adept musician. His first release, Bo Yeshua, was recorded live at River of God Church in Enola, Pennsylvania. It boasts 15 tracks, including “HaTikva” (the Israeli National Anthem), “The Sacrifice Lamb” by Joel Chernoff, several Messianic and renewal favorites and original numbers. Joshua often sings in both Hebrew and English and his stated aim for this first album was to reach and connect traditional and Messianic Jews.

In this second recording, You Are Holy, Aaron wants to build a bridge for Christians to connect with “Israel, their Messianic brothers and sisters and the language of the Bible—Hebrew.” It contains at least seven Joshua Aaron originals, which are wellcrafted and accessible. The melodies feel familiar and one could join along with many of them upon first listen. Most are what could be called modern hymns of adoration —sung directly to God, extolling His holiness and His salvation. The arrangements are often exciting and energetic, but can also be quietly reverent. A few of them make use of unusual instruments that are reminiscent of the ancient Near East. They are musically polished, yet retain a sense of spontaneity.

He opens with a lush and expansive Hebrew version of the Chris Tomlin chorus, “How Great is Our God,” switching halfway through to the well-known lyrics in English. Aaron says that this is an effort to make Christians comfortable with hearing Hebrew as a language of worship, and perhaps to begin worshipping in Hebrew themselves, starting with familiar tunes they probably use in their own churches. This strategy is repeated in a later song on the album: a Hebrew version “Oh, the Blood of Jesus.”

In addition to these offerings, there are three tracks that provide interesting variety. The first is a Middle Eastern tar musical intro. The tar is an ancient instrument that looks something like a long-necked guitar, its Western descendant. The second is a reading of Scriptures, beginning with Jeremiah 31. Joshua does the Scripture reading to an ethereal musical background. Some have said this is their favorite track. Others find this recitation of Scripture verses distracting, pulling them out of the flow of worship into a short teaching seminar. The third, however, is a real treat: Misha Goetz (daughter of Marty and Jennifer Goetz) joins Joshua Aaron to sing her elegant and heartfelt version of the Aaronic Benediction. Both the songs and the production on You Are Holy are quite professional. Josh’s rich exuberant style is part of a new genre that has developed from melding Messianic/ Israeli intercessory worship (à la Jerusalem’s Sukkat Hallel or Carmel Assembly) with the sumptuous, inspirational big sound that came out of the Renewal movement. If this is the kind of music you enjoy, you should consider Joshua Aaron’s You Are Holy. MT


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