The Watchmen began their ministry in 1968 as a group of friends wanting to sing for a talent contest sponsored by Emmanuel Bible College in Kitchener, Ontario. Their latest recording is HALLELUJAH (2008). The CD booklet lists seven men as being part of the group at the time. Tim Harden (tenor) pastored ten years at Sauble Christian Fellowship and is now at Rosebank BIC. Doug Jones (lead) joined the group about a year after it began and has been involved in selling Canadian solid wood furniture in Markham. Dave Jantzi (baritone) pastors at Glenridge Bible Church. Filling out the group at the time of this recording were: Dave Yake (bass), Brian Winger (piano/keys), Nick Succi (bass guitar), and Dave Roth (audio tech).
This album begins with ‘Heaven’ which is an upbeat track that looks forward to the eternal home of believers in Christ: “Now when I feel discouraged and my burdens get me down/I’ll pray till I touch heaven/Now my feet are on higher ground/Heaven, had a little taste of heaven, had a little touch of heaven, had a little glimpse of heaven/Wanna go where the milk and honey flow/No more sorrow, pain, or woe/Had a little taste of heaven and I wanna go there.” ‘Had it not Been’ reverently reflects on the atonement: “Had it not been for a place called Mount Calvary/Had it not been for the old rugged cross/Had it not been for a man called Jesus/Then forever my soul would be lost.”
‘My Name is Lazarus’ is a peppy song about the miracle working power of our God: “My name is Lazarus, could I testify?/My name is Lazarus, feels good to be alive/When I in chains of death was bound this man named Jesus called me out/If you think your little problem is too big for Him to solve, take it from the one who’s heard the mighty voice of God/A living testimony of His death defying touch/My name is Lazarus.” ‘I am Redeemed’ reveals a God who actively pursues and changes us for the better: “I was a slave in a foreign land/So very far from the Father’s loving hand/He rescued me one glorious day/He brought me out and paid the debt I could not pay/I am redeemed, I am redeemed/Jesus loosed the chains of sin and set me free/I am redeemed, I am redeemed/Jesus loosed the chains of sin and set me free.”
‘Loving God, Loving Each Other’ is a pretty ballad that boils Christianity down to two basics: “We tend to make it harder, build steeples out of stone/Fill books with explanations of the way/If we’ll stop and listen and break a little bread/We will hear the Master say/’Loving God, loving each other/Making music with my friends/Loving God, loving each other/And the story never ends.’” ‘Grace and Glory’ is a hand-clapper and toe-tapper that speaks of the gratitude of those God redeems: “There’s splendor for the sinner saved by God’s amazing grace/There’s glory in their story as they run this pilgrim race/They spend their days to give their praises to the Lord and King/Till the work is done they’ll serve the One who gave them everything.”
‘I Will Glory in the Cross’ is a mellow ballad that should humble us all spiritually: “I boast not of works, nor tell of good deeds/For naught have I done to merit His grace/All glory and praise shall rest upon Him/So willing to die in my place/I will glory in the cross, in the cross/Lest His suffering all be in vain/I will weep no more for the cross that He bore/But I will glory in the cross.” ‘Try Jesus’ speaks of the faithful and reliable nature of God: “If you ever need a healer when the doctor walks away, friend, try Jesus/If you never thought you’d have the strength to face another day, try Jesus/If you ever needed someone to walk with you to the end, try Jesus/And if you ever need to hear the words ‘I forgive you’ again/Try Jesus.”
‘Hallelujah Chorus’ joyfully declares that Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords, and that He will reign forever over His Kingdom. This familiar song of praise is no doubt where this album’s title comes from. ‘Haven of Rest’ calls us all to find refuge, security, and salvation in Christ: “I yielded myself to His tender embrace/In my faith I took hold of His Word/My fetters fell off and I anchored my soul/The haven of rest is my Lord/Oh, come to the Saviour, He patiently waits to save by His power divine/Anchor your soul in the haven of rest/And say my Beloved is mine.” A beautiful instrumental version of Andrae Crouch’s ‘My Tribute’ showcasing Brian Winger on piano is included as a bonus track on the CD.HALLELUJAH presents a clear Gospel message and features great harmonies. Fans of the Torchmen and the Nations Quartet should pick this album up. Since this recording Brian Winger retired from the group. Don McNiven, who is Executive Director of the International BIC Association, is the new pianist. Also, Dave Yake had to depart due to health issues. Roy Lewis from Belfast, Northern Ireland now sings bass. You can catch The Watchmen live on July 27/13 at 7pm at Stayner Missionary Camp. Visit www.watchmenquartet.ca. I'm rating HALLELUJAH 87%.