Prime Cuts: Sing Again, Forever, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
Overall Grade: 5/5
Classic movies often get to be re-made after a lapse of time, but not so much with music albums. However, Michael W. Smith's Worship is an exception for a couple of reasons: first, Worship was released on September 11, 2001, when America gasped in horror at what happened to the Twin Towers. As a result, many turned to the worship of God and Smith's album became the soundtrack. Second, the songs on the original Worship album are all evergreen staples. There are no duds on there; every track on the record has been sung across churches internationally for years and years. 20 years later with 9/11 resurfacing back in people's memories, it makes sense that Smith's re-visits his iconic album again.
Worship Forever (Live) isn't just a blatant carbon-copy of the original. Though the first twelve songs are the same, albeit re-recorded and re-imagined, Smith has added a few newer songs to the track list, including "Surrounded/Waymaker," a snippet of "Blessing," and the new song "Sing Again." We need to pause to talk about the new song "Sing Again." This song is this album's highlight: melody and lyric wise, "Sing Again" stands toe to toe with the other standards. Boasting a gorgeous melody, this worship ballad speaks of how God perseveres with us through the toughest times that we can never be without reason to worship.
As for the re-recordings, Smith doesn't effortlessly sing them. Rather, he gives most of the tracks a lusher orchestrated sound, with the opening string introduction of "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" being another highlight. Matt Redman, Tauren Wells, and Amy Grant (not present in the original set) get to add their vocals to "Heart of Worship," "Agnus Dei," and "More Love, More Power" respectively. Even the little girl that read Scripture at the opening of the original "Forever" returns this time as a full-grown woman reading the same passage.
Nevertheless, what makes this album works come back to the songs. Even with the passing of two decades, these songs are still so relevant and singable. Unlike many of today's worship songs where melodies are not given priority, these songs thrive on being memorable. How can we not hum along with tunes as gorgeous as "Draw Me Close" and "Above All." Yes, re-recordings are rare; but when it comes to iconic records like Worship, it is an honor to hear them re-recorded again.