Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
Whilst, hopefully, this is an impartial review it is, in a different sense of the word, partial for two reasons. Firstly, your reviewer has before him a paperback songbook containing the vocal line, piano part and guitar chords. Also available are a cassette, compact disc, accompaniment cassette, instrumental parts, OHP masters and, for four of the songs, soprano, alto, tenor, bass anthem arrangements. All you could need, short of Roger Jones coming round to conduct (which could probably be arranged...). Seriously, all of these optional extras tell us that Christian music Ministries are nothing if not thorough in their approach. This review is also partial in that, due to deadlines, it has not been possible to church-test any of these songs with a choir or congregation. So, with these handicaps in mind, what have we got? A professional presentation for a start. A glossy paperback booklet containing 21 psalms, hymns and spiritual songs "with a particular emphasis on the relationship between worship and healing." Layout and printing are clear and crisp although on several songs the words bleed over onto following pages so once we reach the second verse words and music have become separated. Not an insurmountable problem but certainly a little awkward when learning new material. We have 21 songs, four from Psalms (Psalms 8, 11, 42 and 97) and five new tunes for old favourites ("Saviour, Again" by Ellerton, "I Am Trusting Thee, Lord Jesus" by Havergal, "My Hope Is Built" by Mote, "Jesus Shall Reigh" by Watts, ?'And Can It Be?" and "0 Thou Who Camest" by Wesley). The presiding maestro is Roger Jones (as featured in CR26) and there are also songs by Andrew Moss and Ann Routley. Alison Fugle supplies lyrics for six songs. The tunes are straight forward and generally have a contemporary feel. Without wishing to damn with faint praise the word that comes to mind is "nice" and the question that remains unanswered is "why"? Why would anyone want to replace Goldie's tune for "And Can It Be?" (Sagina)? But if Roger Jones does bring a new audience's attention to Wesley's superb words then he will have achieved something worthwhile. This is an interesting new collection although, in my book, 21 songs do not a collection make. Worth a look but don't sell your Sacred Songs And Solos just yet.
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