Various Artists “Simple Hymns: Songs of Communion” Album Review

simple hymns

Prime Cuts: Broken for Us (Katie Gustafson), O Fount of Me (Matt Boswell), Finer Day (Kelly Minter)

Overall Grade: 4/5

"Simple Hymns: Songs of Communion" is the fourth instalment in the "Simple Hymns" series.  This is a series that has been developed by Venture3Media to resource the church's worship by providing (mostly) newly written hymns with theologically richer vocabulary. Rather than singing over and over again of Jesus as the church's never failing boyfriend extraordinarie, these songs actually unpack the great doctrines of Scripture executed in contemporary measures.  And to make these songs even more palatable, contemporary worship leaders such as Pat Barrett, Kelly Minter, Joanna Beasley, Gabe Wilson, Chris Weninegar and others were brought in to mouth these (mostly) newly written hymns. As the coda of this titular reveals, these songs have been created to help provide the soundtrack of churches as God's people gather round the communion table.  As the celebration of the Eucharist has generally been a solemn affair, likewise, all of the songs on this record are set on a decelerated pace availing opportunities for us to contemplate on Jesus' sacrifice. 

Pat Barrett, who has been extra active in the series, contributes the opening cut.  Barrett's acoustic-guitar-backed version of the ancient hymn "The Wonderful Cross" doesn't get the album off on a good start.  Maybe because of the sparse backing and Barrett's draggy delivery, the song slows down to a snail's pace that makes you really want to fast forward the whole track.  Things improve with Chris Weninegar-led "And Can It be."  Utilizing Charles Wesley's lyrics but adorned with a new lilting melody, this new version of "And Can It Be" has a folkish flair that is quite endearing.  "Broken for Us," featuring Katie Gustafson, is pure gem. By putting  her Alison Krauss-esque crystalline vocals to work on this well-crafted string-laden ballad, Gustafson brings out a layer of beauty from Christ's sacrifice that is fetching.

Gustafson returns to the microphone on the Celtic-inspired "Be Still My Soul," which is tad nebulous in its melodic development. In what is a very pastel sounding album, Dave Fitzgerald spices things up with his gritty vocals on an otherwise soporific "Nothing But the Blood."  Veteran Christian artist Kelly Minter who has not graced us with a new album in over a decade makes a much celebrated appearance by delivering the piano ballad "Finer Things."  The song is a gorgeous exposition of the Gospel capturing with great perspicuity the problem of sin and how Christ deals with it on the Cross.  Also in the same lofty league is Matt Boswell's "O Fount of Me."  These are the type of songs that ought to be sung not only during communion services, but they should be our anthems all year round. 

Though not every song here is perfect, but as a collective, this album deserves to be widely circulated.  Smaller churches would do well to master these songs as many of them lend themselves to being performed with a minimum hosts of instruments. In fact, a piano or a guitar may be enough to execute these songs.  Moreover, most of the offerings here don't have complicated riffs or endless tags, making it easier for even a novice worship leader to tackle.  Thus, if you are looking for worship songs enveloping meaty truths without making you jump through unattainable hoops, check this entire series out. 



Tags : Various Artists “Simple Hymns: Songs of Communion” Album Review “Simple Hymns: Songs of Communion” Venture3Media kelly minter pat barrett matt boswell gabe wilson amy little Chris Weninegar Katie Gustafson

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