Wednesday, December 05, 2012


As I was growing up, my family and I would attend hymn sings in the Tillsonburg, Ontario area. Groups such as The Proverbs, The Watchmen, and The Nations would perform. So would the The Torchmen Quartet. They began in 1969 when four men met at Fairview Mennonite Brethren Church in St. Catherines, Ontario. Today the Torchmen are Mike Moran, Sandy MacGregor, Jon Hisey, and Jeff Tritton. Mike Moran was born in Cambridge, Ontario and joined the group the year they formed. For many years Mike also hosted ‘Gospel North’, a radio show in the Niagara Region. Sandy MacGregor was born and raised in Kitchener, Ontario. He has been a member of The Watchmen Quartet, The Chapelaires, The Royal City Quartet, The Singing Canadians, and Damascus. In the eighties he sang lead for The Torchmen, now he sings tenor. Jon Hisey grew up in St. Catherines, Ontario. He officially started singing with the Torchmen in 1983, just after his Uncle John had left them. Jeff Tritton used to minister to kids with a ventriloquist dummy named ‘Elfred’. He first joined the group in 1992. Over the years the Torchmen have gained great notoriety for their talents and Gospel message, even performing at the National Quartet Convention in the United States. Their latest release A NEW PERSPECTIVE (2012) was recorded at Grant Avenue Studios in Hamilton, Ontario. Of it, Mark Trammell says: “The Torchmen have found yet another level of consistency and integrity through taking timeless traditions and bring new light and a fresh approach to old standards while never losing the original impact of the song.”

‘I Want to Make a Difference’ is a real toe-tapper and uses banjo: “I wanna testify/God is still the only One/I wanna make a good impression/When I make my confession by what the Lord has done/I wanna sing for my Lord and my King/Do my best to see Him get the glory/I wanna make a difference/With the One who made the difference in me.” ‘I’ll Keep on Leaning’ is a nice ballad of gratitude to God written by D. Britt: “All those times I’ve gone astray/All the times I’ve lost my way/The Shepherd reached out into the cold/To bring this sheep back to the fold/And no matter how far astray I’d be/Those Arms are reaching out for me/Safe in His everlasting Arms/I’ll keep on leaning.”

‘Just One More Song’ has a celebratory feel to it and was written by Rebecca Peck: “Give me just one more song to sing/Give me just one more verse to glorify the King/Give me just one more day/In this symphony of life/Give me just one more breath to lift the name of Jesus Christ/Give me just one more song to sing.” ‘I Will Pray’ begins with these words of wisdom: “I won’t wait till I’m walking in the valley/Or I’m caught up in the fury of a storm/No it won’t take times of desperation/To push me to my knees/And make me call out to my Lord/I will pray/Pray in the morning/Pray in the noonday sun.”

‘Fair Exchange’ uses harmonica and has an upbeat country feel to it. It includes these spoken words: “The Bible says in Romans chapter eight, verse one ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.’ So the next time Satan wants to put you in chains, you look him in the eye and say ‘By the blood of Jesus Christ I am a free man.’” ‘Wish You Were Here’ is a sentimental ballad written by M. Williams and popularized by The Kingsmen. Here are the words to the chorus: “Wish you were here/It’s such a beautiful place/Wish you were here/Nothing but clear sunny days/It never rains and no one complains/We haven’t seen a tear/We’re having a great time/Wish you were here.”

‘City in the Sky’ by Richard Ash, has a Gaither Homecoming feel to it: “I met a new saint of God/She’d been travelling a long, long time/Seen a lot of pain and heartache/But she’d left it all behind/I said ‘Sister, tell me/Aren’t you weary of the life you’ve led?’/She said ‘I’m not troubled with where I’ve been cause I know what’s up ahead.’” ‘Light at the End of the Darkness’ encourages us not to give in to despair: “There is hope in that land for the hopeless/There’s a soothing balm for pain and misery/It’s as near as your faith/It sometimes seems fleeting/I was blind when it finally shined on me/There’s a light at the end of the darkness/So look up when you are down and try to believe.”

‘I Remember the Time’ is a testimony song that I can hear doo-wop influences on: “I can tell you ‘bout the time/I can take you to the place/Where the Lord saved me/By His wonderful grace/And I cannot tell you how/And I cannot tell you why/But He’ll tell me all about it/In the by and by.” ‘In the Cross’ takes the posture of a servant: “So I turn to the road ahead/Forgetting all I used to be/In answer to the call of the One who died to set me free/Friends and fame, riches and power/For His cross I will set aside/In His mighty shadow/Let me hide.”

‘Over the Door’ is a faster paced number that reminds us our denomination doesn’t save us: “Some people think today/If heaven you would see/You must belong to their one church/Or be lost eternally/But according to God’s Word/What He’s still looking for/Is what He finds within your heart and not what’s over the door.” So true! ‘I’d Rather Have Jesus’ really puts things into perspective: “I’d rather have Jesus than man’s applause/I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause/And I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame/I’d rather be true to His holy Name/Than to be the king of a vast domain/Or to be held in sin’s dread sway.”

In short, The Torchmen Quartet have still got it going on. Their group harmonies and solos sound great! The group is excited about their faith which is alive and well. Not every group could weather so many member changes over the years and still sound as cohesive as they do. This is a bona fide recording. Fans of Gold City should buy this one. I’m rating A NEW PERSPECTIVE 90%. For more info visit

Tuesday, December 04, 2012


Walter Clayton Crossnoe was born on February 11, 1967. He grew up in Memphis, TN and became a Christian when he was thirteen. He married his high school sweetheart Renee in 1990. They have four kids and two of them were adopted from China. Clay Crosse’s debut album was 1993’s MY PLACE IS WITH YOU. In 1995 he won a Dove Award for ‘Best New Artist of the Year’. Over the years he has been known for such songs as ‘I Surrender All’, ‘His Love is Strong’, ‘Saving the World’, and ‘I Will Follow Christ’, the latter of which featured BeBe Winans and Bob Carlisle. In 2010 Clay threw his fans a curve and gave us a terrific Americana album, EVERYTIME I FEEL THE SPIRIT. Now he is back on the scene with rededication (2012).

The album starts out with the wonderful first AC single ‘I Rest in You’. Clay wrote it with Brian White, and album producer Regie Hamm. Hamm actually co-writes seven of the ten songs presented. This opening song begins with these words of testimony: “You’re the peace that passes understanding/In a world that’s changing/You’re the hope that’s everlasting/When the walls are crashing down/You’re the love that’s greater than/The doubt that tries to steal my faith and/You’re the only truth that I have found.” ‘reDedication’ is a touching ballad about a spiritual homecoming: “I’m so amazed at what You’ve brought me through/So I give my life back to You/Rededication/Rededicating myself to the One/Who’s my only salvation/To the One with His arms open wide/The One who is Lord of my life/Rededication.”

‘Vessel’ written by Regie Hamm, Fred Wilhelm, and Nick DePartee finds Clay desiring to be involved in God’s purposes here on earth: “From the deep blue sea/To the tops of the mountains/It all points back to You/And I’m on my knees/Praying You make me an instrument You use/So pour over me.” The first INSP single is ‘Your River’s Wide Enough’ written by Bernie Herms and Jennie Lee Riddle (Revelation Song). This single is a great song of praise: “Love pours out/Grace flows down/You’re everywhere, all around/Your mercy runs, a vast supply/Healing rains from Your side/Your river’s wide enough/Your river’s wide.”

Isaiah 55:9 reads: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” ‘Waving a White Flag’ is a soulful, gospel influenced number that documents how hard it is to kill the old man, which is the flesh: “I don’t know why I ever fought You/Why I dodge You, but I confess/That all of Your ways are so much higher/And You always know what’s best…I’m at the end of myself/This game of tug of war is through/Surrendering everything/I dedicate my life to You.” ‘Working on a Building’ has a crazily funky groove to it and features Russ Taff and Melinda Doolittle. Doolittle was the third place finalist on Season 6 of American Idol, and before that sang backup for the likes of Aaron Neville and Carman. The song here, reminds us not to be passive in our spiritual lives: “Workin’ on a chamber/Where principalities will never rule/Workin’ on a mansion/More than forty acres and a mule/Buildin’ on a bedrock/Cause I wanna be wise and not a fool, not a fool…/Workin’ on a building/Where the enemy will never trod/Workin’ on a building/Where I am at home at last with God.”

Clay co-wrote the memorable track ‘When I Lift my Hands’ with Regie Hamm and Chuck Butler. It praises the Lord for who He is and for giving us our daily bread: “You’re the promise and the hope that gets me through each day/And You provide the strength I need to walk within Your way/And I could never fully know the depth of who You are/But I will try to reach You/When I lift my hands.” Next up is a track covered in part in 2006 by Michael W. Smith. ‘The Stand’ was written by Joel Houston just a year before. Many know him from Hillsong United. The chorus paints a beautiful picture of one who is worshipping: “So I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned/In awe of the One who gave it all/I’ll stand, my soul Lord to You surrendered/All I am is Yours.”

‘All Because of You’ is a well crafted song. The chorus distinguishes the Christian music star from non-believing performers: “I return the glory to/The One whom it belongs/Every time I lift my voice/Any time I sing these songs/I say it honestly/Anything that’s good in me/And anything that’s true/It’s all because of You.” The album ends with a tender ballad, ‘Good Morning Lord’, that lays out how we should start off each day as Christ followers: “Good morning Lord/Thank You for this day/Help me to walk with You/In this world You made/Good morning Lord/I feel Your mercies new/Take my hand and lead me Lord/I long to follow You.”

Clay Crosse is now worship pastor at Faith Baptist Church in Arlington, TN. He and Renee are also involved in marriage and family ministry via Holy Homes. Of his latest CD, Clay says: “God really blessed me to be able to record this new project and I pray it encourages you.” Instrumentalists used include: Steve Brewster (drums), Mark Hill (bass), Dave Cleveland (guitars), Jason Webb (keyboards), Dave Davidson and Chuck Butler (strings), Mike Haynes (trumpet), and Mark Douthit (sax).

reDedication finds Clay spot on vocally. His voice has a maturity that can’t be imitated. The songs are ones of well thought out and heartfelt ministry. After all these years, Clay is still putting out top quality inspirational music. We are the better for it! Fans of Michael English, Sandi Patty, and Steve Green will like this one. I’m rating reDedication 87%. For more info visit and