Reviewed by Peter Ould
Eight and a half years ago I was cajoled into attending a Vineyard church in Manchester and immediately encountered a new way of expressing worship to God, totally alien to one who had grown up on Anglican Hymns Ancient and Crumbly. Since that day I simply can't get enough of modern praise, whether it's our homegrown leaders like Redman and Hughes or imported music from the former colonies. So why does this CD, part of the series celebrating 25 years of homegrown Vineyard worship, not quite hit the spot for me? Simply put, it's because I've heard it before. The CD catalogues the period from 1994 to 1996 when the Vineyard denomination and the wider Evangelical Church all over the world saw a fantastic outpouring of God's Spirit. As such it's an excellent record of a period of renewal and revival amongst God's people, exactly the same time that I came to faith and discovered the grace and love of God. It captures precisely the passion and reverence for Jesus that churches had in those exciting years. However, this CD is also a reminder that worship has moved on in the past few years, that we are new singing deeper theology, tackling the issues of discipleship and endurance in songs like Redman's "Blessed Be Your Name", concerns that weren't at the forefront of our corporate worship a decade ago. One or two of the songs on this album we are all still using (the brilliant "Breathe" by Marie Barnett for example) but the majority of these tracks have faded into obscurity, and some, dare I say it, quite rightly so. Having said all this, Vineyard has realised that this is a CD that marks history and so have accordingly come up trumps in the supporting material. Slot this into your CD player and you'll be carried back to those heady days of the mid '90s when we encountered God in a powerful and vibrant way, but stick this CD in your PC and you'll find an interview with Carol Wimber about the move of the Spirit in the Vineyard churches in the mid '90s, together with some of the songwriters themselves relating to the stories behind the tunes. On top of this of course, you have the obligatory chord sheets and OHP acetates found on most Vineyard CDs these days. If you've never experienced this period's worship, or you want to bring back memories and experiences from having been part of this move of God, then go get this album. That being said, it is the same old tunes and you may already have them in your collection. The interview and the "song stories" are interesting, but not enough to warrant paying for them.
Peter Ould is a Church of England Ordinand studying at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. Although trained as a classical percussionist, these days you're far more likely to see him producing music behind a set of turntables.
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