Sunday, February 05, 2012


     On his website Scott Wesley Brown writes: "Being a part of the early days of Contemporary Christian Music or 'Jesus Music' as we called it in the 70's was as exciting as blazing the new frontiers of the wild west!"  In 2005 Scott turned his attention the the hymns and released HYMNS-THE OLD MADE NEW produced by Billy Smiley of White Heart, Jeff Nelson, and himself.  It was released by Devotion Music.  The worship team vocals are performed by Michael Mellet, Tammy Jensen, Lisa Bevill, Drew Cline, and Billy Smiley.  The Scottsdale Bible Church Choir is also used.  A nice touch is the penny whistle played by Sam Levine.  Scott introduces the project with these words: "As I've travelled to over 50 countries worldwide, I've heard these great hymns sung in many cultures and in many tongues often to different melodies and indigenous rhythms.  Many of them were originally sung by missionaries who gave their lives to proclaim the very words of truth these hymns contain...I hope that these new renditions will carry them even farther, to new generations; to new places where the glory of our Lord Jesus will be proclaimed and countless more will worship Him!"
     'Praise to the Lord the Almighty (He is Worthy of Honor)' sounds majestic and extols the Lord:  "Praise to the Lord, oh let all that is in me adore Him/All that hath life and breath/Come now with praises before Him/Let the 'Amen' shout from His people again/Gladly forever adore Him (2X)."  'He Will Reign in all the Earth (Jesus shall Reign)' features great guitar work, will get your feet moving, and includes these bold lyrics: "Jesus shall reign wherever the sun/Does its' successive journeys run/His Kingdom stretched from shore to shore/Till moon shall wax and wane no more."  Scott provides some background for the song: "This great missionary hymn was sung in the South Sea Islands in 1862 by King George of England along with the chiefs of Tonga, Fiji and Samoa and some 5,000 natives as they dedicated their islands to Christ and denounced heathenism and cannabalism under a new Christian constitution."  'Come Christians Join to Sing' is jubilant and includes these instructive lyrics: "Come lift your hearts on high/Alleluia, Amen/Let praises fill the sky/Alleluia, Amen/He is our Guide and Friend/To us He will descend/His love shall never end/Alleluia, Amen (2X)/Amen to the Lord, Amen to His grace/Amen to the One who is worthy of praise."
     'For the Beauty of the Earth' showcases the soft vocal touches of fellow Devotion artist Kristina, and corrects those who worship Mother Earth: "Lord You are more beautiful than all that You have made/We marvel at creation/But You alone we praise."  'May Jesus Christ Be Praised (When Morning Gilds the Skies)' is a modern praise anthem with a great guitar solo by Brennan Smiley.  New words and music were written by Brown, Aaron Shust, and Billy Smiley.  These words remind us how powerful our praise is: "The night becomes as day when from the heart we say/May Jesus Christ be praised/The powers of darkness fear when this sweet chant they hear/May Jesus Christ be praised/Jesus You are holy/Jesus be praised."  Next up is a somewhat subdued version of 'Immortal Invisible (God only Wise).'  It is a song of reverence: "Great Father of glory, pure Father of light/Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight/All praise we would render/O help us to see/'Tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee."
     In introducting 'All Hail the Power', Scott writes: "Worship is the goal of missions!"  The song is upbeat and keeps the tune we're all familiar with, but adds some contemporary, modern flourishes.  It anticipates taking part in the coronation of Jesus in Heaven: "O that with yonder sacred throng/We at His feet may fall/We'll join the everlasting song/And crown Him Lord of all (2X)."  'He Hideth my Soul' is a ballad of testimony.  Original words are by Fanny Crosby.  New words and music are by Billy Smiley, Ryan Dubes and Brown.  The lyrics include the following: "A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord/He taketh my burden away/He holdeth me up and I shall not be moved/He giveth me strength as my day/He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock/That shadows a dry, thirsty land/He hideth my  life with the depths of His love/And covers me there with His hand (2X)."  'Love that will not let me Go' is tender and carried by acoustic guitar.  The original words are by George Matheson, a Scottish theologian and preacher, in 1882.  New words and music are by Brown, who introduces the song this way: "This hymn was the fruit of the severe anguish Matheson suffered as his fiancee deserted him when he learned he was going blind.  He stated that it was written ever so quickly as if someone were dictating it to him.  Witness these words: "Oh love that will not let me go/Like an anchor to my soul/Forever in Your sovereign hold/Love that will not let me go/Oh joy that seekest me through pain/I cannot close my heart to thee/I trace the rainbow through the rain/And feel the promise is not vain/That morn shall tearless be (2X)."
     'Thy God Reigneth' uses an angelic vocal chorus and engages in some encouraging self-talk: "Sinful soul thy debt is paid/Thy God reigneth/On the Lord thy sins were laid/Thy God reigneth/On the cross of Calvary Jesus shed His blood for thee/From all sin to set thee free/Thy God reigneth (2X)...Church of Christ awake, awake/Thy God reigneth/Forward then, fresh courage take/Thy God reigneth/Soon, descending from His throne/He shall claim thee for His own/Sin shall then be overthrown/Thy God reigneth! (2X)"  'Jesus I Come' is a ballad that builds.  Like 'Trading my Sorrows' it is about trading our poverty for God's riches: "Out of my bondage, sorrow and night/Jesus I come/Into Your freedom, gladness and light/Jesus I come/Out of my sickness, into Your health/Out of my want, into Your wealth/Out of my sin and into Yourself/Jesus I come/I come...Lord I am thirsty, Lord I am down on my knees/And through all of the valleys Your Word is spoken to me (2X)/You are my Shepherd/All that I want, all I need (2X)/So Jesus I come/Jesus I come/Jesus I come."  'The Church's One Foundation (Christ our Foundation)' is beautiful and finds Jeff Nelson on piano.  Original words are by Samuel Stone (1866) and original music is by 'Aurelia' Samuel Wesley (1864).  New words and music are by Brown and Billy Smiley.  Introducing this closing number, Scott writes: "Written in opposition to a theological position in Capetown, South Africa when a bishop of the church denied the doctrine of eternal punishment and the authorship of the Pentateuch and Book of Joshua."  The song uses ceremonial language to speak of the Christian faith: "Elect from every nation yet one o'er all the earth/Her charter of salvation-one Lord, one faith, one birth/One Holy Name she blesses/Partakes one holy food/And to One Hope she presses/With every grace endued/Christ our foundation, our joy of salvation/O how we praise Your Name (2X)."
     If you are tired of hearing the same old hymns done the same way, if you enjoy the hymns but wonder what they might have sounded like if written today, or if you are unfamiliar with the hymns, HYMNS-THE OLD MADE NEW is a good starting point.  The hymns are good at putting the focus on God and His attributes.  I only wish Scott had included a few more upbeat numbers; the project is a bit mellow.  I'm rating it 85%.  For more info visit