Thursday, October 11, 2007

On the Other Hand

I think I've mentioned the St. Olaf College Choir before. I first saw them on their PBS Christmas special and was deeply impressed by their spirit and musicality. Last year I bought one of their Christmas CDs, and their "Great Hymns of Faith, Vol. I." The Hymns CD been on my short list ever since.

In the same shipment that brought the Hillsongs Christmas CD (see yesterday), was St. Olaf's "Great Hymns of Faith, Vol. II." Let's just say I am addicted.

You could use words like Powerful, Enchanted, and Sublime to describe this recording. It carries the youthful exuberance of college students with the rich harmonic depth of a well-trained choir. This is not a "boring old hymns" album. It is a recording that brings new life and breath to these old standards of the Christian Faith.

Some of the selected hymns:
- All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name
- I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry (Which I have never heard outside of Turlock. . .)
- It Is Well With My Soul
- Holy, Holy, Holy
- Jesus Loves Me (absolutely the best recording of this song I've ever heard)
- This Little Light of Mine

In addition, they included a few Christmas standards as well:
- In the Bleak Midwinter
- The Hills are Bare at Bethlehem
- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Most of the arrangements are either a cappella, or sung to a simple piano accompaniment. This is the kind of CD you can have playing in your house in the evening, with a candle burning and tea on the stove, when you're relaxing at the end of the day and searching for some peace.

Mostly what impresses me, though, is the worshipful spirit throughout. Many Hymns albums are all about doing something new to impress and sell albums. Some have wonderful, classically trained musicians, but they come across sounding like concerts. This music reflects souls crying out in worship to their God, and, being familiar songs, inviting you back in.

Whether you are a purist, a traditionalist, or even an emergent, I think you'd find much to like about this CD.

p.s. I just looked at their tour schedule - turns out they're going to be in Seattle in late January, then heading south Oregon and California. I think I need to buy some tickets. . .

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