When Ontario, Canada’s The Kingsway Quartet released their album GENERATIONS (2007), their members were Sharon and Terry Whitfield, and Kelly and Mark McMillan. The album was recorded at The Music Room in Kerwood, Ontario. It was produced by Glen Teeple and Mark McLellan. In the CD booklet you will find the following words among others: “We’d like to dedicate this recording to all of those who have supported our music ministry since our formation in 1989. This CD includes a collection of songs, old and new, representing our past, present and future. We pray it will be an encouragement to all who listen to it”.
’Sing, Shout, Dance’ joyfully anticipates Heaven in an upbeat Southern Gospel manner: “Some mornin’ when the darkness fades, we’ll all be goin’ home/Together in the air we’ll meet and never more to roam/Oh what a happy time t’will be when we gather on that day/The light of Christ will ever shine and never pass away/We’re gonna sing, shout, dance in the morning light/We’re gonna walk all over the land where there’s no night/The lion and the lamb lay down when sun is shining bright”. ‘Precious Memories’ is a sentimental ballad written by J. B. F. Wright in 1925: “Precious memories, how they linger/How they ever flood my soul/In the stillness of the midnight/Precious, sacred scenes unfold/Precious father, loving mother/Fly across the lonely years/And old home scenes of my childhood/In fond memory appears”.
‘His Name Was John’ is a cheerful Southern Gospel song that reflects on how John the Baptist fit into God’s plan: “And he was John, his name was John/He baptized with the water till Jesus came along/Then the Holy Ghost from Heaven descended like a dove/Like the prophecy was given/By John, his name was John”. Paula Stefanovich wrote ‘Jerusalem’ and The Hoppers popularized it. This beautiful anthem is over five minutes long. It finds the group longing for Heaven: “John saw the lion lay down by the lamb/I want to know everything about that land/John saw the day, but he did not see night/The Lamb of God, well, must be the light/He saw the saints worship the Great I AM/Crying worthy, worthy is the Lamb/I want to go to that city he saw/New Jerusalem/Jerusalem/I want to walk your streets that are golden/And I want to run where the angels have trod/Jerusalem/I want to rest on the banks of your river/In that city, city of God”.
‘Operator’ is a fun, but cheesy song all around: “Oh, operator/Give me information/Information, give me Jesus on the line/Operator, information, give me Jesus on the line/Operator, information/I’d like to speak to a Friend of mine/Prayer is the number/Faith is the exchange/Heaven is the city and Jesus is His Name/Now operator, information/Give me Jesus on the line”. ‘Freedom Band’ penned by John Rowsey and Daryl Williams, was the happy title track of a 2002 Gaither Homecoming album. It begins with these words of invitation: “Come along and join this journey with the freedom band/Sing the song of Zion as we march to gloryland/Can’t you see the home lights burning?/Every day my soul is yearning/Come and join us on this journey with the freedom band”.
‘What a Beautiful Day’ is a lovely country gospel number that looks forward with gladness to Christ’s return: “I can’t help but keep a watch toward the Eastern sky/And I wonder if the trumpet will be the next sound that I hear/What a beautiful day for the Lord to come again/What a beautiful day for Him to take His children home/How I long to see His face and to touch His nail-scarred hands/What a beautiful day for the Lord to come again”. ‘I Mean to Be There’ again reflects with glee on Heaven: “When the names had been announced John looked and found to his amazement a thunderous sound/Saints in purest garments clad/Singing worthy is the Lamb/I mean to be there when my name’s called out from the Book of Life/I’ll rise to shine/Oh glory to the Lamb/Redeemed I’ll stand/I mean to be there when my name’s called out”.
The Imperials and Gold City are among those who have recorded the inspirational ballad ‘It’s Still the Cross’. It reminds us what our focus should truly be on: “It’s not conservative or liberal/However they’re defined/It’s not about interpretation or the judgment of the mind/It’s the opposite of politics, power, or prestige/It’s about a simple message and whether we believe/It’s still the cross/It’s still the blood of Calvary that cleanses sin and sets the captive free/It’s still the Name/The Name of Jesus that has power to save the lost/It’s still the cross”. ‘Shouting on the Hills’ is an all out, fast-paced, Southern Gospel song of celebration: ”There’ll be shouting on the hills of glory/Shouting on the hills (2X)/When we reach that land of which we heard the story/There’ll be shouting on the hills of God/There’s a happy time a-comin’ when we reach our home in Heaven and the burdens that we bore we’ll wear no more/When old Gabriel sounds his trumpet calling us to those bright mansions/There’ll be shouting on the everlasting shore”.
If I had to pick out one central theme on GENERATIONS, it would quite obviously be Heaven. What born again believer in Christ doesn’t eagerly look forward to that eternal home where there is no pain, sorrow, or death? It is where we will at long last meet our Heavenly Father and all our questions will fade away. The Kingsway Quartet deliver their vocals with skill on this mainly Southern Gospel album. There are several songs here you will want to listen to over and over. They will help you forget your troubles and put you in a more content frame of mind. I’m rating GENERATIONS 95%. For more info visit: www.kingswayquartet.com.
Kingsway Quartet released the album FEELS LIKE HOME in 2013. It was recorded at DePrice Is Right Recording in Fort Gratiot, MI and was produced by David E. Price and Mark McLellan. On this album the group’s roster was: Mark and Kelly McLellan, Sue Hamilton (now married to James Tomen, formerly of The Nations Quartet), and Charles Earl.
Starting things off is ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ which was written by George Frideric Handel in 1741. The version here has a dated praise and worship feel to it and includes these now so familiar, majestic words: “The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord/And of His Christ (2X)/And He shall reign forever and ever/King of Kings/Hallelujah, hallelujah!/Forever, hallelujah!/And Lord of Lords/Hallelujah, hallelujah!/Forever, hallelujah!” ‘Keep Coming Back to the Well’ is a cheerful Southern Gospel song that reminds us where we should draw our strength from: “Jesus made a well at Calvary/For healing, cleansing, and victory/How its joy overflows, no tongue can tell/I thank God for the well/I keep coming back to the well of grace/Great is its power, sweet is its taste/Whenever temptations and trials I face/I keep coming back to the well”.
‘Tell me the Story’ is a sentimental easy listening tune: “Tell me the story of Jesus/Write on my heart every word/Tell me the story most precious/Sweetest that ever was heard/Tell of the cross where they nailed Him/Writhing in anguish and pain/Tell of the grave where they laid Him/Oh tell how He liveth again”. ‘Didn’t It Rain’ is a feet-stomping Southern Gospel track. It recalls a well known Old Testament story: “Listen to me/You know God walked down by the mighty sea/He beheld the evil of sinful man/Declared that He would destroy the land/Well, He spoke to Noah, Noah stopped/He said ‘Lookey here Noah, build me an ark/I want you to build it big and strong/Build it 300 cubits long, 30 high, and 50 wide/I want it to stand my rain and tide”.
You may be familiar with Gold City’s version of ‘There Rose A Lamb’. The song has a great, victorious Easter theme: “He chose the place, He chose the hour/That He would rise by His own power/A sacrifice three days ago/And now/Praise God the Lamb arose!/There rose a lamb in Jerusalem/He was the Son of the Great I AM/He proved to be my victory/There rose a Lamb in Jerusalem”. ‘Good News from the Graveyard’ features a neat bass lead vocal. It is an Easter song of celebration: “Good news from the graveyard/Good news from the tomb/What was His final resting place is now an empty room/Hell is in an uproar/The devil’s in despair/Good news from the graveyard/He’s not there!”
Karen Peck & New River’s ‘I Wanna Know How It Feels’ is up next. This nice modern country ballad finds the group longing for Heaven: “Sometimes I get weary from this life that I live/It seems that peace is something I’ll never find/I try to lighten my load when all that I’ve got to show/Is 700 things on my mind/Oh, well I’m seeing visions of a crystal clear river/Where sin’s forgotten without a trace/More than I’ve ever dreamed/My soul longs to see/The look of love on my Savior’s face/I want to know how it feels to make my way down the streets of gold/I want to know how it feels to have a talk with the saints of old/I want to know what it’s like to rest my feet by the River of Life/I’ve heard of Heaven and I know that it’s real/I want to know how it feels”. ‘Unseen Hand’ is all about God’s faithfulness to us: “There is an unseen hand to me/That leads through ways I cannot see/While travelling through this world below/This hand still leads me as I go”.
‘Heaven in the House’ is an upbeat Southern Gospel track. Pentecostals will appreciate these lyrics: “Once there was 120 gathered in the upper room/They tarried for the Holy Spirit/They knew He’d be coming soon/Finally the place was shakin’/No one in the room stood still/When the count was finally taken/Everybody in the house was filled”. Eddy Raven penned ‘Thank God For Kids’ in 1972. It is a pretty, heart-tugging ballad: “If it weren’t for kids have you ever thought/There wouldn’t be any Santa Claus/Or look what the stork just brought/Thank God for kids/And we’d all live in a quiet house/Without Big Bird or Mickey Mouse/And Kool-Aid on the couch/Thank God for kids/Thank God for kids, there’s magic for a while/A special kind of sunshine in a smile/Do you ever stop to think or wonder why/The nearest thing to Heaven is a child”.
FEELS LIKE HOME will appeal to fans of Southern Gospel music, country music, and older praise and worship music. The themes are diverse and include our relationship with Jesus Christ, the resurrection, and gratitude. Several of the songs are strong and well performed, while others are of average quality. The group’s voices go well together and there are some stand-out solos. The cozy photos of the group accompanying the CD were taken at Clovermead Bees and Honey in Aylmer, Ontario. I’m rating FEELS LIKE HOME 86%. The Kingsway Quartet is now retired, but a website remains at: www.kingswayquartet.com.