Reviewed by Paddy Hudspith
'There Is A Hope' was originally released in 2008 in separate CD album and DVD formats but now Kingsway have repackaged them together. It was recorded/filmed over two nights at a Coleraine theatre with the intention, as the songwriter puts it, of "launching" new Stuart Townend compositions into the worship marketplace. Eschewing his regular backing band (which comprises members of Phatfish), this time Townend has assembled some big names from the secular and CCM sectors; as well as guest worship leaders Kelly Minter, Aaron Keyes and Brazil's Assiria, the likes of jazz pianist Mark Edwards, drummer Andrew Small (Kylie Minogue's MD - that's musical director, not her American doctor!), the ubiquitous piper Troy Donockley (ex-Iona, most recently alongside Adrian Edmondson in folk-punksters The Bad Shepherds!), and Lawrence Johnson (leading a gospel-flavoured trio of backing vocalists) all feature prominently. The track listing mixes old(er) and, as promised, new Townend hymns and songs. There is a Celtic feel in the Townend/Keith Getty compositions - the likes of "From The Breaking Of The Dawn (Every Promise)" and "In Christ Alone" gained a lot of exposure on the 'New Irish Hymns' projects - and the generous splashes of fiddle/whistles/pipes/accordion on these tracks give them plenty of Irish folk flavour. The newer songs signal, as Townend says on the accompanying DVD, "a new season" of creativity alongside collaborators such as Small, Edwards, Minter and Keyes. Certainly there is a fresher feel to, for example, "My Soul Finds Rest (Psalm 62)" although this may be due to Townend's gracious sharing of the 'spotlight'; in this case Keyes takes the lead on a track he has co-written, Minter likewise on "To You We Bring Our Hymn Of Praise (Glory Be To God)" and the gentler "Will You Hide Me (Healing Streams)". Townend himself is especially taken with the reflective and powerful title track, featuring a very Dave Bainbridge/Troy Donockley-esque outro of keyboard washes and melodious uillean pipes. All in all, this is a very high quality package (its slightly odd cover photo notwithstanding).
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If worship is a banquet, then Stuart Townend’s songs are often the main course: full of goodness, full of strength and so good to share with the largest of crowds. From How Deep The Father’s Love to In Christ Alone and The Power of the Cross, Stuart’s poetic lyrics and stirring melodies have impacted millions.
Recorded live in Ireland, and featuring the talents of guest worship leaders Aaron Keyes and Kelly Minter, There Is A Hope is a great chance to get stuck into that feast any time, any place. Originally available as two separate products – CD and DVD only – this special reissue reunited the sight and the sound.