September 30, 2020

‘The Isolation Sessions’—A New EP from 20schemes Music

“Perhaps the LORD will act on our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.” (1 Samuel 14:6). These words were spoken by King Saul’s son—Jonathan—to his young armour bearer, before the pair of them raided a Philistine camp. We read later, in verse 23: “So on that day the Lord saved Israel. . . .”

Lockdown’s Effects 

These past few months of lockdown have brought with them fear and struggle for many in the schemes of Scotland. I’m not talking about fear of the coronavirus itself—I haven’t really met anyone who’s overly worried about it, to be honest. Instead, many believers in our local churches—myself included—have faced loneliness and mental health issues. For many, these issues predate the pandemic, but they’ve been exacerbated by the isolation of lockdown.

Struggles with addiction have been made tougher through lack of fellowship. Struggles with motivation run rampant through lack of accountability. It has been widely reported that domestic abuse has gone through the roof during these past few months. Local kids who attended our youth clubs for their weekly hour’s relief from the chaos and dysfunctionality of life in their own homes have been unaccounted for and unseen for months. Thousands of workers across Scotland have lost jobs as businesses have gone bust, causing many families to struggle to pay the rent and the bills.

God at Work  

But God has been at work in wonderful ways since March, and this should not surprise those of us who profess faith in Him. After all, “Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving”—not even these restrictions brought on by the coronavirus. 

Many churches were unable to meet for months. Most haven’t been able to sing. But those terrible realities do not change this great truth: 

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’” 

(Lam. 3:22–24, NIV) 

Despite the many challenges, these past few months have also been a time of such blessing. For me, they have provided time to reflect on God’s goodness and provision. New believers have persevered and grown in their faith, sometimes under immense pressure and temptation without our normal discipleship programs.

Local people we didn’t know in March have come to faith in Christ, without our evangelism! Imagine that. It’s a wonderful, humbling reality to remember that the Lord does not need us. We’re so prone to pride, pomp, and our passion for our own ‘contribution’ to ministry that it’s easy to forget that the Lord alone saves (Is. 43:11).

While we have all been restricted, the Almighty God has not. He has continued unhindered because: “Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving.” What a wonderful lesson for us all to remember—we are undeservedly privileged to serve our Lord and Saviour, but we aren’t necessary to Him. What a joyful reminder of grace these past few months have afforded us involved in ministry (and yes, I mean every believer). 

For the Lord takes delight in his people;
    he crowns the humble with victory.
Let his faithful people rejoice in this honour
    and sing for joy on their beds.

(Ps. 149:4–5)

The Isolation Sessions

The Isolation Sessions is a compilation of some of the songs that have come out of our time in lockdown across 20schemes. This project debuts new songwriters—like Cristi from Merkinch Free Church (Inverness)—as well as old and well-known songwriters, like John Newton (1725–1807). 

We handed microphones and cameras over garden fences, gave crash courses on how to use equipment, ‘Wetransfer’d’ audio files and camera footage that was recorded/filmed in kitchens, bedrooms, conservatories, and living rooms. Then everything was collected together at our prestigious 20schemes Music offices (read: our gaff in the middle of Gracemount) and I built the tracks up, edited, mixed, and produced the tracks and videos. This is a complete home project. 

There are numerous children (and dogs), the length and breadth of Scotland who, during lockdown, have been bribed into temporary silence with Haribo, Irn-Bru, CBeebies and beef jerky (or in our case ‘sticks of celery and a ‘songs from the schemes’ album on headphones—and beef jerky) as dad or/and mum “got their recording done” (with the exception of the Nelson family in Niddrie, who had all their children singing on their music videos). 

The reason for all of this? If we can’t meet to worship corporately, how can we continue to play our privileged part in encouraging, spurring on, and discipling one another? How can we teach biblical truth, equip, and admonish one another, share the gospel, and, above all, continue pointing everyone, believer, and unbeliever to Christ, who is the source of life, hope, and forgiveness?

How can we as local churches continue “speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ?” (Eph. 5:19–20) 

We have put The Isolation Sessions together amidst these restrictions to glorify and magnify Christ, as a privileged means of expressing our thanks and dependence upon Him. These months have reminded me that 20schemes Music isn’t necessary, and that has been a blessing for me as my gaze has been redirected upwards to the glorious Christ, our Saviour and sustainer. I’ve been reminded that “nothing can hinder the LORD from saving.”

But I’ve also been reminded that the Lord takes delight in His people. He crowns the humble with victory. He still used Jonathan and his armour bearer back in 1 Samuel 14, to exercise their faith in Him, giving them courage to storm the Philistine camp in order that the Lord would save Israel. Therefore, let His faithful people rejoice in this honour and sing for joy on their beds.

These may be strange times for the church, but in the knowledge that ‘as this virus takes its toll, Christ is King, He is in complete control’, let us trust in Him who is not and will not ever be hindered from fulfilling His plan of salvation in the schemes of Scotland—not by COVID-19, nor by anything else. Let us continue seeking to make much of Him where He has called us to serve. I pray that The Isolation Sessions will encourage you and spur you on toward love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24) as you listen to the wonderful truths from His Word in the songs. 

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
in a believer’s ear
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds
and drives away his fear.

The Isolation Sessions is available on:

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