Wilberforce would be proud, maybe even raising his hands

In the flood of over-produced worship CDs of hymn covers, I was surprised by this one. For all the hymn CDs that I’m sure made John Newton, Fannie Crosby and St. Francis spin in their proverbial graves or maybe vomit just outside the pearly gates… maybe William Wilberforce is raising the roof after this CD.

 

Amazing Grace: Music Inspired by the Motion Picture [SOUNDTRACK]

 

 Its hard to believe this movie came out over 5 years ago, but not only was a pretty decent movie, this soundtrack brought together a pretty impressive group of artists. 

I just bought this CD on iTunes and its pretty darn good. I’ve said before that hymns are like italian food, its hard to mess up if you just stick to the basics, and I think this CD is a good example of that, with a nice mix of high powered CCM and Gospel artists providing nice, inspired arrangements.

Although I find it a little stupid and arrogant to say that these hymns, some hundreds of years ago would qualify as “music inspired by the motion picture”– but I’ll take that as one of the many inexplicable idicoracies (I just made up a word… idiocy + idiosyncrasy) of the Christian music industry. And on top of that, why were these songs inspired by the motion picture… was that just a clever marketing trick to spin out a WOW hymn CD but cross-promote it with this Christian movie and give a different look and linear notes. Well if so, mission accomplished.
OK, here’s my rundown of the CD.
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Amazing Grace (Chris Tomlin) – I’ve talked about this song b4 on this blog. Surprisingly pretty and I think the chorus brings a lot to the table. And its one of the few worship songs that I think sound better as a studio version than the live ones.
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It is Well (Adie) – I don’t know why Adie gets credit for this… its Jeremy Camp singing the whole time I think. She just sings some BGV echos and harmony. I tried to google this, but didn’t find much, other than that Adie and JCamp are married. Interesting. This either has to be a huge clerical error or JCamp is a egalitarian that is publicly practicing mutual submission. But there is an absolutely stupid, pointless bridge. “We sing holy is Your name, Most High. We sing holy, holy, holy.” Why did they have to add that? Obviously its a good sentiment, but to add that to an already good, complete hymn makes it seems just like filler and actually devalues the very idea. Maybe they are getting paid by the minute a la Stephen King so they just decided to add a bridge. Either way it is stupid and nearly ruined a pretty nice cover of a great hymn.
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All Creatures (Bethany Dillon and Shawn McDonald) – very fresh arrangement. slow and reflective– KOREAN STYLE, baby! I could see this being done at church. I admire how they pulled of the atmospheric feel without coming across cliche or hillsongy.
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Holy Holy Holy (Steven Curtis Chapman) – To be honest, I don’t know what my man SCC was thinking here. Now get me straight I love this guy and have appreciate how many good songs he’s churned over the decades. But wtf was he thinking adding a chorus… i don’t if this is worse than JCamps bizarre bridge two tracks earlier. This hymn is like 500 years old… and everybody knows it and loves it… maybe just a little bit less than Amazing Grace in pop value. But I just think SCC laid an egg here. And I wonder why the omitted the second verse, cherubim and seraphim don’t sell like they used to!
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Fairest Lord Jesus (Natalie Grant) – I was surprised that they made this hymn sound slightly emo and cool. At least the first half of the stanza. I’ve always thought of this hymn as a nice cute little hymn that kids can sing and that we can sing a cappella or with an organ or piano, but contemporarizing it would fail. Well Natalie Grant proves me wrong… a little tweaks here and there maybe we could get this in a club or something. haha. prob not. But I love the line “Jesus shines brighter, jesus shines purer than all the angels heaven can boast.”
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Just as I am (Nichole Nordeman) – I was curious to find the writing credits for the verses. Nichole uses the first verse as the chorus and there are verses that accompany it. It feels like something Nichole would write, but I have no idea. I’ve really like her music… even though to be honest sometimes I have had stupid insecurities about the fact that her music is very sentimental, soft and maybe a little too pretty, I should blog about that later. But I don’t know why I feel better about inserting verses into an old hymn than inserting a chorus or bridge, but I like this version, it doesn’t feel forced but very natural… she just absorbs the hymn into her NN acoustic pretty style.
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Were you there? (Smokie Norful) – the reason you should buy this CD. A tour-de-force. Its powerful… its beautiful… its emotional…. and above all its SIMPLE. Keeping in spirit with the Spritiual, Smokie adds his touch to this sound… he knows how to sing those piano-driven power Gospel ballads, and its beautiful. I want to do this on good friday at church, but I was really tempted to be like, let’s just play this Mp3 and I can just worship along.
OK, I could comment more, but I’m tired and I have work to do tonight.
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You should consider getting this CD. It’s definitely a “buy-it” as far as worship/Hymn CDs go.
And on Andy’s rating scale, this CD receives a whopping 4 chipotle burritos out of 5.
   

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One thought on “Wilberforce would be proud, maybe even raising his hands

  1. ha.. totally “inspired by…” is just a marketing gimmick to sell more copies of a wow hymn compilation

    i’m with you on the unnecessary bridges, esp for ‘fairest lord jesus.’ i really do think ‘my chains are gone’ added something to ‘amazing grace’ both musically and lyrically. the chorus/bridge adds repetition and meditation (something hymns don’t usually do, especially if they’re strophic.. and something that’s pastorally helpful, esp for people used to CCM).

    i think all the other songwriters were just like “oh hey, chris tomlin made a hit.. we should all just re-sing old hymns and add a bridge! yay!”.. when… adding a bridge to a hymn that already has a refrain is often just.. extra fat.

    i wish there were a more normalized route of exposing CCM/youth-group types to hymns aside from “oooh chris tomlin/hillsong sang it.. what a great original song/discovery! i guess since they did it, it’s cool for us to do it now, too!”

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