Newsboys released their debut album READ ALL ABOUT IT in 1988. They have released two worship albums-2003’s ADORATION and 2004’s DEVOTION. Fast forward to 2014 and they released their first hymns project HALLELUJAH FOR THE CROSS (First Company Management/Capitol Christian Distribution). Seth Mosley produced it. Lead singer Michael Tait shares: “Hymns are important to me. We picked through songs that went way, way back into my past and my dad’s Baptist church. I love modern worship but I just love that old stuff because they were written in such desperate and perilous times, and out of great pain comes great resolve, I think”.
‘All Creatures of our God and King’ has a happy feel to it musically and extols God unashamedly: “Let all things their Creator bless/And worship Him in humbleness/O praise Him! Alleluia!/Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son/And praise the Spirit, Three in One/O praise Him! O praise Him!/Alleluia! (3X)/Hands go up, heaven come down/Givin’ Him praise is the only sound”. A more energetic pop version of ‘Where You Belong/Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus’ than that which appeared on the group’s 1992 album NOT ASHAMED, follows. It includes these words of testimony: “I was used to the cold for so long/That I couldn’t feel anything/And I shivered and stared like a beggar/Who won’t lift his hands/I was numb until You touched me/I was deaf until He heard/I was senseless ‘til I met the One/Who understands”.
‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’ was penned by Civilla D. Martin and Charles H. Gabriel in 1905. It is a song that places full confidence in God: “And I sing because I’m happy, and I sing because I’m free/Oh, His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me/’Let not your heart be troubled’, His tender word I hear/And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears”. The title track ‘Hallelujah for the Cross’ was written by Ross King and Todd Wright in 2013. This powerful modern worship anthem zeros in on the atonement: “Up to the hill of Calvary/My Savior went courageously/And there He bled and died for me/Hallelujah for the cross/And on that day the world was changed/A final, perfect Lamb was slain/Let earth and heaven now proclaim/Hallelujah for the cross”.
‘It is Well’ is one of my wife’s all-time favorite hymns. This version has a pulsating dance beat to it, which works quite well. It looks ahead to Jesus’ return to earth: “And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight/The clouds be rolled back as a scroll/The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend/Even so, it is well with my soul”. ‘Jesus Paid it All’ shares the Gospel message: “Jesus paid it all/All to Him I owe/Sin had left a crimson stain/He washed it white as snow.../Oh, praise the One who paid my debt/And raised this life up from the dead”.
‘I Surrender All’ is reverent and has been used at many an altar call over the years: “All to Jesus I surrender/Humbly at His feet I bow/Worldly pleasures all forsaken/Take me, Jesus, take me now.../All to Jesus I surrender/Make me Savior, wholly Thine/Fill me with Thy love and power/Truly know that Thou art mine”. ‘What a Friend we Have in Jesus’ is given an atmospheric light pop treatment. It urges us to take our trials and concerns to God and lay our burdens down at His feet: “What a friend we have in Jesus/All our sins and griefs to bear/What a privilege to carry/Everything to God in prayer/Oh, what peace we often forfeit/Oh, what needless pain we bear/All because we do not carry/Everything to God in prayer”.
Dianne Sheets provides additional background vocals on ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’. It is a beautiful song of praise: “Holy, holy, holy!/Lord, God Almighty/Early in the morning my song shall rise to Thee/Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty/God in three Persons, blessed Trinity/Holy, holy, holy!/All the saints adore Thee/Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea”. ‘All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name’ is an effective, mostly acappella song. It appropriately treats Jesus as royalty: “Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race/Ye ransomed from the fall/Hail Him who saves you by His grace/And crown Him Lord of all!/.../Let every kindred, every tribe/On this terrestrial ball/To Him all majesty ascribe/And crown Him Lord of all!”
In the liner notes Newsboys note: “The writers of many of these majestic pieces wrote them during very painful, trying times of distress but Redeemed places”. Newsboys are: Michael Tait, Duncan Phillips, Jody Davis, and Jeff Frankenstein. On this album, the vocalists are: Michael Tait, Jody Davis, Ben Backus, and Seth Mosley. This album runs 36 minutes and 18 seconds. Newsboys don’t toy too much with the melodies of these sacred songs. Any lyrical additions are minor and don’t seem out of place, in fact, sometimes they strengthen the original words. In many ways, this is a modern worship album with lyrics from a past era. All praise and glory is given to God on this project. I’m rating HALLELUJAH FOR THE CROSS 85%. For more info visit: www.newsboys.com.