BBC Radio 4 Daily Service Singers - The Nation's 20 Favourite Hymns

Tuesday 1st July 2003
BBC Radio 4 Daily Service Singers - The Nation's 20 Favourite Hymns
BBC Radio 4 Daily Service Singers - The Nation's 20 Favourite Hymns

STYLE: Hymnody
LABEL: Kingsway KMCD2466
RELEASE DATE: 2003-03-21
RRP: £14.67

Reviewed by Norman Smith

Let's get something straight about hymns. I asked my teenage son, “Where do you hear hymns?” He replied, “In church, Dad, and you don't hear them - you sing them!” Profound and provocative. and a great yardstick for measuring this CD. Every song here is sung in a measured barbershopy, chorally correct, starchy way and this must surely be the biggest “how not to” recording in the history of Christian music. Allow me to illustrate three examples of classic hymns and how they are murdered on this offering: Charles Wesley’s classic “And Can It Be” has always been in my top five. It's a heartwrenching hymn of the incredulity of God's prison-breaking love, and I for one have been in church with 500 others when Heaven itself has come down to the immortal line “My chains fell off...” The singers here reduce it to insipid dishwater, and it simply doesn't wash. There is an absolutely absurd version of “Be Thou My Vision”, never more poignantly belted out than at a good friend's funeral at my church by a crowd of was his favourite song. This version relegates the classic Celtic battle hymn to the substitute's bench of Dross United. Finally, the all time greatest children's hymn “All Things Bright And Beautiful” has an obscure tune, which I for one have not heard or sung in over 30 years of church going in differing denominational settings. They may well be the nation's 20 favourite hymns, but they deserve far, far better than this.

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