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  Hymns Ancient & Modern: Live Songs of Our Faith 
Vocal Artists: Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Charlie Hall, Christy Nockels and Matt Redman  
Passion Records SPD 83817 (2004)
Running Length: 63 minutes

This collection of traditional church hymns is certainly inspiring.  There are contemporary arrangements of old favorites, such as “O Worship the King,” “Doxology,” “All Creatures of Our God and King,” “On Christ The Solid Rock” and “Fairest, Lord Jesus, “ just to name a few. This project was recorded live in April 2003 at Northpoint Community Church, Atlanta, Ga. during Passion’s Thirsty Conference.  The soloists were song leaders for the conference.

There are standouts on this CD, such as Christy Nockels with  “Praise to the Lord” and “Fairest, Lord Jesus.”  Her phrasing and arrangements are innovative.  David Crowder’s “All Creatures of Our God And King,” also showcases that hymn well.  

However, the mix of this CD is uneven.  There are momentary pauses, more like a skip, between selections that is noticeable to the listener.  Also, the emotional effect of several hymns are diminished by allowing the percussion to dominate the piece, rather than the vocal soloist. What is important here, words or drums?  I reference the first hymn, “O Worship the King” or “Father, Let Me Dedicate” as examples.  Other hymns that don’t have this situation are “Praise To the Lord, the Almighty,” or “All Creatures of Our God and King” or “Fairest, Lord Jesus.” 

There seems to be a movement among song leaders to divide a phrase.  I, personally, find this disconcerting and don’t like waiting to hear what comes next.  Chris Tomlin in “O Worship the King” sings “…how firm to the……end.”   Or, Tomlin again in “Raise Up the Crown” with “…King of…..the Ages,” then “Lord…..of all.”  Chris Hall puzzled me in “On Christ The Solid Rock,” and this is partly because of the percussion situation. I could not hear “faultless” which sounded like “fall-less,” until I checked the program notes, and “sinking,” sounded like “sinning.”   Words are made of letters and each letter is important.

Passion Records does have a good concept here by taking hymns that are over a century old and having contemporary artists perform them.  It brings new light to the music and perhaps may even introduce an unknown hymn to a new listener.  Be aware of the fine points, though.

Copyright 2004 Marie Asner
Submitted 2/29/04 

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