Prime Cuts: I Trust in Jesus, Father of Light, Blessed Assurance
Overall Grade: 4.5/5
Celtic Worship's Morningtide is a beautiful album. The warm sounds of wooden instruments, such as cellos, fiddles, acoustic guitars, and bagpipes, give these songs an organic and down home feel that is endearing. Moreover, the well-executed blend of voices that come with some delightful Scottish accents make this album a standout. Thanks to Integrity Music, this album is bound to extend the influence of Celtic Worship beyond their homeland of Scotland. The band is made up of Naomi Stirrat on vocals, Steph Macleod on vocals and acoustic, Mhairi Marwick on fiddle, Scott Wood on bagpipes and whistle, Gus Stirrat on bass, Chris Amer on electric and Ifedade Thomas on drums.
The album comprises of re-imagined covers of hymns as well as originals. In a 12-song album, there are only three originals, so let's start from there. The cello and synth introduction of "I Trust in Jesus" propels the song on a winning start. With a hymn-like structure that the Gettys would be proud of, "I Trust in Jesus" is a powerful anthem of one's profession of trust in Jesus. Less engaging in terms of its melodic development is the folky ballad "Father of Light." Nestled in a bevy of violin sounds, "O Be Still My Soul" has some arresting lines that need to be sung by the church again and again.
Worship leaders would do well to take a lesson from Celtic Worship on how to resurrect old hymns for the contemporary church. Their less-is-more approach on hymns, such as "Blessed Assurance" and "Turn Your Eyes," show that you don't need the bombast to worship. Rather, with the simplicity of piano, guitar, and cello, you can also create worship that is heartfelt and organic. Celtic Worship's innovative ways of creating medleys is also worth emulating. The way they string the hymn "It is Well" with the chorus "I Exalt Thee" is stunning.
Perhaps the only criticism is that the choice of the hymns is far too safe and predictable. Other than that, this album is indeed a beautifully made record. Resonating with warmth and affection, this album will provide hours and hours of meditation for individuals and it will provide a refreshing template for the church's worship.