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God Himself Is With Us:The Gospel Proclaimed Through Hymns 
Artist: Scott & Becky Aniol 
Label: Indie

If you see a void, sometimes it's incumbent upon you to fill it yourself. 

Sensing a dearth of doctrinally/theologically rich hymnody set to the conservative, classical-leaning music backdrops he prefers (for doctrinal/theological reasons), founder Scott Aniol brought his cute schoolteacher wife, Becky, and a few musicians into a South Carolina studio to produce God Himself Is With Us: The Gospel Proclaimed Through Hymns, a collection of original and public domain hymnody to fill the aforementioned gap.  

And though this 16-song affair bereft of drums and electrified instruments isn't likely to receive CCM radio rotation, the Aniols' programmatic approach mirrors that of some more "commercial" praise & worship albums. Following through on the album's subtitle, duets and solo vocal selections by each Aniol follow from exalting the God of the gospel, the gospel's provision, response to it, and its results. 

The Aniols' trained voices-Becky's an expressive soprano and Scott's a solid braitone-front accompaniment heavy on piano but including bowed strings, guitar, harp, glockenspiel and French horn. With songs spanning the 4th to 21st centuries, the combined effect brings listeners to a place that may not be frenetic nor showy as a Passion event or Hillsong service, but nonetheless is deeply vertical an worshipful. Scott's two originals, which he takes as solos, occupy the same historic stylings as those older numbers he and his better half assay.

The beauty of the Aniols' debut is the emotional balance and non-metrically repetitive text. Per Scott's recent book, Worship In Song:A Biblical Approach To Worship And Music, what I call the eros/agape confusion that makes the Lord out to be a boyfriend/girlfriend figure gets no airing here. To a lofty and majestic Almighty the Aniols ascribe and proclaim worthy expression.

That's not to say that some music in the praise & worship commercial mainstream doesn't endeavor to give God such glory. But the Aniols know the value of presenting their Master a musical offering that can't be mistaken for mid-range heavy pop chart fodder. And as for their album's subtitle? It shouldn't be such a novel notion to proclaim Chirst in hymnody to make it necessary, eh?

Jamie Lee Rake 


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