Posted by: Nathan | April 5, 2006

A Grateful People and a Fond Farewell

Reviewing Christian music follows most of the same standards as reviewing secular music: musicality, rhythm, message, etc.; however, there is also a spiritual element that cannot be ignored. I will never claim that Watermark is the best Christian band. Their sound is good soaring to great at times, their lyrics are worshipful always but not uber-clever, and they don’t excel at variety in sound. That said, there is now nor ever has been (in my observation) a band more focused on Christ–more worshipful–than Watermark. For that reason alone, they are my personal favorite Christian band, and for that reason, I will miss them greatly.

A few weeks ago, Watermark released their final album (at least for a while) A Grateful People. It is largely a live recording of a concert performed last year on August 25, 2005 (my birthday!) in the home church of Christy and Nathan Nockels who are Watermark. The track list reads almost like a greatest hits of the band, though as with any greatest hits album, much more of their best music is excluded than included. The album also features a number of guests including Shane & Shane and Point of Grace.

The disc begins fast with a ripping version of “Take Me There,” featuring much more acoustic guitar sound than the original recording. This flows right into the tour-de-force “The Glory of Your Name,” which is fantastic as always. Other live tracks of previous recordings include “Gloria/Friend for Life,” the ever-powerful “Glory Baby,” “More than You’ll Ever Know,” “The Purest Place,” and “Captivate Us.”
The tracks I hadn’t heard before range from solid to excellent. “A Grateful People” is simple enough in the verses but has the trademark Watermark explosion of worship in the chorus: “Lord, your mercy turns us into grateful people / we can’t seem to find the words / so take our lives that they might be enough.” “Grateful” also has a “Bless the Lord” tag-on song featuring Chris Tomlin, which again shows the worshipfulness of a band desiring to come alongside their audience to praise. “Arise and Be Comforted” is a release from Watermark’s independent days, though I’d never heard it, and Shane and Shane guest on the track. It’s an instant epic for me, telling of God’s love and comfort for those who suffer: “Arise and be comforted / For the Lord, he is good to the weary.” Essentially, it’s Isaiah 40 put to music, and it’s wonderful. “In the Garden (There is None like You)” is good but not one of the best tracks on the disc.

“Light of the World” and “Elliana’s Song” are the non-live recordings coming at the end of the CD. “Light of the World” is another patented Watermark-style worship song focused on the Redeemer, and for that I thoroughly enjoy it. The final track is the second in a matched-set of songs to their two children (“Noah’s Song” appears on Constant), and I like it better than the one to their son. There is something sweeter about Christy singing about mothering her daughter that is hard to write about without sounding cheesy. It’s a tear-jerker.

Overall, it’s a fantastic swan song for the band whose lyrics have become my prayers more often than I can remember. The musicality, the worship, Christy’s powerful, focused singing, and Nathan’s guitar and solid harmonies are ever-present, and the guest stars only add for the most part (though as for me, Point of Grace took over “Who am I?/Grace Flows Down” a little too much). It’s a must for fans of the band, and for new-comers, it’s an excellent first taste: 8.5/10.

The album is bittersweet for me because Watermark has become such a strong part of my faith-life that I only want more opportunities to worship alongside of them via CD. That said, Christy writes in the album jacket their reasons for retiring the band: she wants to give her all to her kids, and Nathan needs more time to produce music, so I really do applaud their decision.

Watermark has seen me through so many different epochs in my short life, and God’s used them in a myriad of ways in the years I’ve owned any of their works. The first time I heard Watermark was in my sister’s car in Washington, D.C. It was a dark time for me spiritually: I felt far from God, my heart was hardened, and I had completely soured on Christian music. When Karen pushed “play” and I first encountered Christy Nockels singing, “I was created to love You,” something stirred in my spirit. Here was Life. I couldn’t deny it, and I began to feel the depths of my fall. I then proceeded to forget about the band more or less for a year and a half.

Then, before coming to Bethel, I was reminded again of that album, that band who were so full of life, and that voice that was so pure and deep. I called my sister and got the name. It was still a while before I purchased All Things New (still my favorite), but since then, the more I’ve heard from Watermark, the more my soul has rejoiced. I’ve seen them live, I own all their albums (except the super rare ones), and I even have a picture of me with Nathan and Christy.

I guess I write all of this to express gratitude, though I doubt anybody related to Watermark will ever read this post. There are very few bands whose lyrics say things to and about the Lord that I want to sing, and fewer bands whose words I make my prayers. Watermark’s lyrics have been sincere confessions, praises, requests, and gratitude spouting from my lips and pouring out of my soul more times than I can recall. I am grateful for their sincere, devout, and deep-rooted faith in God and desire to worship that shows itself again and again in their music. Blessings on them and their families. They have blessed my life more than they’ll ever know.

The 20 Best from Watermark
1. “All Things New” All Things New
“Because of your love and the beauty of the cross, I can see your work in me”

2. “The Glory of Your Name” The Purest Place
“The perfect Lamb that was slain, there’s the glory of your Name / No other one, no other way for me to see”

3. “Take Me There” Watermark
“You are here and I can feel you / and I just want to be where you are”

4. “Glory Baby” ATN
“Sweet little babies, it’s hard to understand it ’cause we’re hurting / We are hurting / But there is healing / And we know we’re stronger people through the growing / And the knowing that all things work together for our good / And God works his purposes just like he said he would”

5. “My Covering” PP
“Death has no victory / Sin has no hold on me / I’m covered in my Christ who is my life”

6. “His Renown” W
“We can’t just wash our hands of this and walk away / And blame the ones before us because it’s easier to say / than to listen to his heart, beating for the coming age”

7. “Gloria” W
“I wish I could crash like the waves and turn like the autumn leaves in effort to praise you”

8. “More Than You’ll Ever Know” ATN
“You’ve carried me / You’ve taken upon a burden that wasn’t your own / May the blessing return to you a hundredfold”

9. “Friend for Life” Constant
“Deep is the stain inside of me / Deeper the River that washes me clean / I’ve been the one who cries in the night / But you’ve been the Friend of my life”

10. “Good for Me” ATN
“It is good for me to lay it down at your feet”

11. “Arise and Be Comforted” A Grateful People
“Lift your eyes to the heavens / for the Creator is living in you / Come surrender as you are / Know that you’ll never stray too far / Let his power within you heal your heart”

12. “Calm the Waters” W
“I have never caught wind of anything quite so amazing / You have breathed your life in me”

13. “Incorruptible” ATN
“I am not redeemed by corruptible things / Not by silver, not by gold, not by aimless tradition / But by the blood of God’s sacred Son Jesus”

14. “Carry You” C
“He goes before you now with a big, bright banner across this town / saying ‘Here comes my child'”

15. “Mended” PP
“You’ve got all things suspended, all things connected / Nothing was forgotten because your love is perfect / You are a healer and you know what’s broken / We’re not a mystery to you”

16. “A Grateful People” AGP
“Lord, your mercy turns us into grateful people / who can’t seem to find the words / so take our lives that they might be enough / To show you how grateful we are”

17. “Hidden in You” PP
“You win the war over me / So my worship will be a life that is hidden in you / Your life is setting me free”

18. “Still” C
“Shut my mouth / Crush my pride / Give me the tears of a broken life”

19. “Constant” C
“Because of the work of the cross / You pursue my life and you love me completely / You go after every heart / You won’t rest until we know you are constant”

20. “Elliana’s Song” AGP
“To mother a daughter / To look you in the eye / To know that I have everything to walk with you in life / To give you to Jesus / That he may impart / The wisdom that I’m longing for to mother your heart / Elliana, God has answered my prayer”

There are lots of other good ones too. Just missing the cut: “Holy Roar,” “Captivate Us,” Driven to Humility.”


  1. Well stated. I haven’t had nearly enough exposure to Watermark.

  2. Yay…so glad I introduced you to Watermark! They are so amazing. I will have to work on a Top 10 list, too.

  3. […] A while ago I wrote a post on Watermark in which I listed my twenty favorite Watermark songs. It was fun for me to think through all the songs I loved of theirs and then to try to evaluate what was the créme-de-la-créme and why, so I decided to make it a recurring theme in my blog. […]

  4. very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

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