Faith Song Mission, Isaiah 12 Records & Studios, and Vital Force Publishing is a Christ-centered mission and ministry, developed in two specific areas: First, in production, publishing and release of Scriptural, testimonial, public and/or personal expressions of the Christian faith in each applicable, cross-cultural context, through music, audio, written and visual art forms; and second for support of research, teaching and/or information sources and outreach ministries.
Mercy River
Perhaps the writers/producers of these songs come to this project as beatniks of sorts, Scripture beatniks that is, as love of Scripture and testimony is coupled with instinct for rhythm, meter and syncopation. In summary, this jazz/blues album is pathos moving the interpreter rhythmically toward an in-depth comprehension of the human condition in contrast with the sovereignty of God. Half of the songs on this CD album were written in Canada while Karen and James were attending Canadian Theological Seminary and Canadian Bible College from 1998-2002 (see Biography page for details). The Johns couple were inspired in this four year period through their deep and lasting friendships with the international community of fellow students and the Karen Johns Band members from Costa Rica, Canada, Kenya, Sudan, Egypt, Jordan, Germany, Denmark, Mexico and Ghana. This CD celebrates that four year experience with a fresh sound for the Karen Johns Band, venturing into their jazz upbringing and training, delving deeper into blues and pop, and crossing cultures by the use of second languages. Preproduction was recorded on location in Canada at Isaiah 12 Studios, and final production was recorded on location in Nashville at Isaiah 12 Studios. In final production, the Karen Johns Band was comprised of a handful of outstanding musicians from Canada and a handful of Nashville‚s finest session players (again, see Biography page for details).
 
 
1    Ecclesiastes 10.7-12   ( Lyrics & Audio )
     The literary style of the wisdom literature Ecclesiastes, readily lends itself to jazz- a kind of music, originally improvised, but now also arranged; characterized by syncopation, Rabat, individualized melodic variation- such is the jazz genre and such is the book Ecclesiastes. Verse 10:7, „I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earthš... Aside from the preceding verses, collective commentary does not bring great depth of insight to this small verse which is virtually Karen‚s favorite Old Testament Bible verse. Verse 7 associates horses to earthly wealth and royalty, but we wish to venture into the King of kings Kingdom with this one (sorry OT scholars, here we go!)... The body of Christ, the princes (and princesses), are in the role of servants upon earth in like image to our Lord Christ. Thus the believers are those very servants- children of the most High God- of Him who suffered as the perfect servant for the progress of redemption (Philippians 2:5-11). Zeroing in on verses 8-11, light is shed upon the path of folly and the consequences therein. Verse 12 expounds the gracious word of the wise man in contrast to the foolish man, that is the foolish whose own mouth eventually consumes and devours himself whole, bringing about his own demise.
 
2    Mercy River   ( Lyrics & Audio )
     This torch is a pure, classic blues-jazz composition concerning the expanse and world wide reach of the mercy of the Son of God- from shore to shore and sea to sea, from Heaven to earth; water of hope, faith, grace, and life- living water of mercy! Blues is Karen‚s forte and there is no question of that when one listens to this ballad, opened and enveloped by a saxophone-clad rhythm section, and etched from the solo out with a Gibson Les Paul guitar lead. This song is inspired of the following Scripture including, Psalms 23; 36:5; 46:1, 4-5; 59:16; 65:9; 72:8; 80:11; 107:29; 119:64; Isaiah 16:5; 25:4; Zechariah 14:8; John 4:10; 7:37-38; Romans 15:9; Revelation 7:17.
 
3    Psalm 43 (KJV)   ( Lyrics & Audio )
     Several notable scholars have argued that Psalms 42 and 43 were originally one single psalm, and though several theories abound, it is not known exactly why they exist in two psalms; but suffice it to say, they do. We have concentrated our song writing energies on the ladder of the piece, the 43rd Psalm, a psalm of lament and complaint. Faithful interpretation involves an understanding of the covenant relationship between Creator-Redeemer and His creation. This Psalm could be considered a political song from the ancient days of Israel, and yet, members of every nation and generation can relate to this text for a multitude of reasons inherent to the wake of time. The Psalmist cries out to God for justice, as injustice and oppression are realities contended with in the psalmist‚s life. Therefore, God‚s justice, that is, justice supreme and divine, and the longing thereof resonates throughout this song.
 
4    People of God   ( Lyrics & Audio )
     Reminiscent of the jazz choirs some of us used to sing with in high school or University, this is a vocal jazz choir composition to the core, written and performed to exude the multitude of His people. A harmonic proclamation that God is Father and we are His children, this song expresses that most intimate relationship to God: parent and child. God‚s people are present throughout the ages and for all eternity we are promised that it shall continue to be. We have become God‚s children by His love, mercy, and forgiveness, and the peace that transcends this identity is life-transforming and all consuming. There was no way possible that all the voices of the people of God could be recorded here, so please join in and sing this song with us! Based on the following Scripture: I John 3.1; inspired by Matthew 19.14.
 
5    Peace   ( Lyrics & Audio )
     Invoking a journey through mountains, hills, rifts and valleys as it hints of nature far away and beyond and then drawing us nearer... this flute piece by Vania Levans is a carefully arranged compilation of out-takes from the Deseo a Dios sessions.
 
6    Shabbath Shalom   ( Lyrics & Audio )
     Shabbath Shalom is the Sabbath Peace, the sacred Day of the Lord‚s rest, and we are called to the Sabbath. It is based on these key Sabbath Scripture: Genesis 2:2; Exodus 31.14; Deut. 5:12; and Mark 2.27; 3.4. „Ceasing, resting, embracing, feastingš...
    Come, let us welcome the Sabbath in joy and peace! Like a bride, radiant and joyous, comes the Sabbath. It brings blessings to our hearts; workday thought and cares are put aside. The brightness of the Sabbath light shines forth to tell that the divine spirit of love abides within our home. In that light all our blessings are enriched, all our grieves and trials are softened. - from the Kiddush ritual of a Reform home service for Sabbath eve.*
Karen reflects: "In December of 1985, I spent a Sabbath on Moshav Kafar Daniel outside of Tel Aviv, Israel. In some ways, this song is written in memory of that bright, sunny Saturday in the Holy Land, a day of rejoicingš. The Shamah, co-joined and contained in these lyrics, is Hebrew translated: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord (Deut. 6:4).

(* Dawn, Marva J. Keeping the Sabbath Wholly. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1989; p. 2).
 
7    Deseo a Dios   ( Lyrics & Audio )
     In recognition of our missions work and training, this Spanish song is translated: „The world is mine, but I desire God. I want to follow the Word of the Lord: Jesus Christ, my Saviour, my Lord, my Love.š It marks the choice one must make, whether to serve the world or to serve Christ while in this world, and it is dedicated with love and respect to our Latin brothers and sisters. As this song was also the favorite song of Vania (see Biography page for details), her flute is featured as solo instrument throughout this piece. This song is inspired of the following Scripture including Matthew 16: 24-26; Luke 9:25; John 1:1-14; 17:6; Titus 1:4; ; 2:13; II Peter 3:18.
 
8    My Faith In God   ( Lyrics & Audio )
     This pop style song, in lyric, expresses a broad theological dynamic. Faith in God is historical; faith is present reality; faith is future phenomenon- Alleluia! As a believer‚s faith grows, they are elevated to new horizons and new challenges in the Kingdom walk. Let us examine two word studies that engage the lyrical content: seraphim and miracles. Seraphim, angelic beings believed to be closely related to cherubim,* hovering beside and above the heavenly throne of God as servants and spokesmen of God (Isaiah 6:6-7), their chief duty is to praise God. The Hebrew translation of the word suggests „fiery onesš as associated with the fiery presence of God. The authors of this song know it is a miracle of God that one can see them at all, even awesome and terrifying as it was for the prophet Isaiah in the 6th chapter of that prophetic Scripture. One is therein prompted in trembling to praise God as they do: „Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts!š (Isaiah 6:3). Oh the miraculous works of God Almighty!
    „Miracles by definition are exceptional events; we should never expect or demand them of God. We cannot predict when he, in his sovereignty, may work one, though there is some slight evidence from history and human experience that they may be prevalent whenever God‚s reign is forcefully advancing into an area largely enslaved by the powers of darkness.š**
(* Achtemeier, Paul J. Bible Dictionary. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1996; p. 998. **Blomberg, Craig L. Jesus and the Gospels. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1997; p. 275.)
 
9    Reflections of Job   ( Lyrics & Audio )
     GOD is sovereign. „Knowledge of the origins of the world is inaccessible to men. Man, the latest arrival on the scene, never observed the beginnings... the result is seen, but not the act, nor the Agent... Here then is a vast mystery.š* This song consists of paraphrased verses from the later chapters of the Old Testament book of Job, specifically the 38th chapter, verses 4, 25, 29, 33-34, 37; and Job 42:2. Echoing only a tiny fraction of the questions God asks in this passage, we melodiously ask them of the postmodern listener. While God is inquiring of Job, in those very questions of inquiry, God demonstrates that it is precisely Him, who is in supreme control of all things. For God even speaks of many wonders that Job had never witnessed with his own eyes, or known or heard of before. These verses speak not only of phenomenon that man cannot completely grasp, but that man certainly cannot harness the magnitude in which God Almighty, the Creator and Redeemer of the universe speaks, controls and acts. Furthermore, God is the author of wisdom, holding the exclusive rights therein, thus God imparts wisdom and understanding to whomsoever He chooses.

(*Exigetical study: Anderson, Francis I; Job, An Introduction and Commentary. London: The Tyndale Press, 1976; p. 274).
 
10    I John 4.1-2 (KJV)   ( Lyrics & Audio )
     The baritone sax is predominant throughout, bellowing out in „I Spyš fashion over this Mo-Town style proclamation. Opening with excerpts of the Scriptural text, the beloved believer is invited to believe the spirit of God into the world... „Beloved, believe into the world: the spirit of Godš... this is the vocalization which precedes the verses in their entirety. Specifically, this passage of Scripture conveys that the divine expression of divine love is the incarnation, and „Living as a true child of God, and acting as a spokesperson of his Spirit, involves a confession about Jesus, supremely, that he derives from Godš.*
    Therefore, the incarnation- and most specifically Jesus‚ sacrificial death on the cross- becomes the visible sign of God‚s love toward us. This is one reason that John placed such importance upon confessing „that Jesus Christ has come in the fleshš. For John, the failure to make this confession is a certain sign of „the spirit of the antichristš (I John 4:1-3).**
(Exegetical Study: *Smalley, Stephen S. Word Biblical Commentary 1, 2, 3 John. Waco: Word Books, 1984; p. 220. **Foster, Richard, J. Streams of Living Water. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1998; p. 40.)
 
Lead Vocals and Backing Vocals by Karen Johns. Additional Backing Vocals by James Johns on People of God, Reflections of Job, and I John 4.1-3; and by Vania Levans and Brian Reed on People of God. Electric Guitars, Acoustic Guitars, Bass, and Mandolin by James Johns, and as indicated: Classical Guitar by Karen Johns on Deseo a Dios; Bass by Luis Espaillat on Ecclesiastes 10.7-12, Deseo a Dios and Reflections of Job; Bass by Frank Fish on Mercy River and People of God. Keyboards by Mark Horwitz. Saxophones by Jim Hoke, with the exception of Saxophones by Mark Horwitz on I John 4.1-3. Flute by Vania Levans. Drums by Mark Niemiec. Cajon Drum by Mark Niemiec on Ecclesiastes 10.7-12 and Deseo a Dios. Djembe Drum by Laurence Fernandez on Shabbath Shalom. Additional Percussion by Karen Johns and James Johns.

Preproduction recorded at Isaiah 12 Studios on location in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Final Production recorded at Isaiah 12 Studios on location in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Engineered by James Johns and Mark Niemiec. Art Direction by Karen Johns and CRT. Photography by Karen Johns and Tony Maupin.