Michael Whitaker Smith was born on October 7, 1957 in Kenova, West Virginia. In 1992 he was named one of People magazine’s ‘Most Beautiful People’. His album WORSHIP AGAIN was released on October 22nd, 2002 on Reunion Records. It was recorded at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and was a follow-up to 2001’s very successful WORSHIP. In 2003 Michael W. Smith won Male Vocalist of the Year at the GMA Music Awards.
Track one is a flawless, rousing combination of Beaker’s classic ‘Step by Step’ and a new Smith composition called ‘Forever we will Sing’. The lyrics to the latter unashamedly exalt Christ: “Hallelujah!/We honor You Lord Jesus/And forever we will sing/Hallelujah!/For You alone are worthy/And forever we will sing/Hallelujah! (4X) ‘You are the Lord’ was penned by Michael and his wife Debbie. It is a beautiful song featuring Skip Cleavinger on the Irish flute. It includes these words of declaration: “Worthy, we stand/Saved by His hand/Great is Your Name/In all the earth/Worthy alone/Christ on the throne/Your Kingdom will reign forever/You are the Lord, Most high”.
‘The Wonderful Cross’ is credited to Chris Tomlin, Isaac Watts, JD Walt, and Jesse Reeves. It is now a congregational staple about the crucifixion and our response to it: “See from His head, His hands, His feet/Sorrow and love flow mingled down/Did e’er such love and sorrow meet/Or thorns compose so rich a crown/Oh the wonderful cross (2X)/Bids me come and die and find/That I may truly live/Oh the wonderful cross (2X)/All who gather here by grace draw near/And bless Your Name”. ‘Ancient Words’ is a tender ballad that includes the use of pipes and reflects on the importance of Scripture: “Words of life/Words of hope/Give us strength/Help us cope/In this world where’er we roam/Ancient words will guide us home/Ancient words ever true/Changing me and changing you/We have come with open hearts/O let the ancient words impart”.
Steve Merkel wrote ‘Lord Have Mercy’. This version features Sarah McIntosh on vocals alongside Smith. It is a pretty ballad of confession: “I have built an altar where I worship things of man/I have taken journeys that have drawn me far from You/Now I am returning to your mercies ever flowing/Pardon my transgressions/Help me love You again/Lord have mercy/Christ have mercy/Lord have mercy on me”. ‘The Sacred Romance’ is a piano and string based instrumental a bit shy of 2 minutes.
Michael W. and Debbie Smith wrote ‘I Can Hear Your Voice’ with their daughter Whitney. It sounds like a lullaby and has a message of spiritual comfort: “I can hear Your voice as You sing over me/It’s Your song of hope breathing life into me/I can feel Your touch as I come close to You/And it heals my heart/You restore and renew”. ‘I Give You my Heart’ is a well known song of spiritual surrender: “Lord, I give You my heart/I give You my soul/I live for You alone/Every breath that I take/Every moment I’m awake/Lord, have Your way in me”.
Next up is Lenny LeBlanc’s 1991 love song to Father God, ‘There is none like You’. Witness these words: “There is none like You/No one else can touch my heart like You do/I could search for all eternity long and find/There is none like You”. Rich Mullins’ ‘I See You’, also from 1991, follows. It is the longest track at just under 7 minutes. It is moving and inspirational. Nature lovers will appreciate these words: “And the eagle flies and the rivers run/I look through the night/And I can see the risin’ sun/And everywhere I go I see You (2X)/Well, the grass will die and the flowers fall/But Your Word’s alive/Will be after all”. The song features a cool electric guitar solo.
Mark Imboden and Tammi Rhoton wrote ‘You are Holy (Prince of Peace)’. It is a sunny pop song that declares who Jesus Christ is: “You are Lord of Lords/You are King of Kings/You are mighty God/Lord of everything/You’re Emmanuel/You’re the Great I Am/You’re the Prince of Peace/Who is the Lamb/You’re the living God/You’re my saving grace/You will reign forever/You are Ancient of Days/You are Alpha, Omega/Beginning and End/You’re my Savior, Messiah/Redeemer and Friend”. Three studio cuts end off the album. The first is a version of ‘Lord Have Mercy’ featuring Michael’s long time friend, Amy Grant.
‘Here I Am to Worship’ is a splendid worship song penned by Tim Hughes: “Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down/Here I am to say that You’re my God/You’re altogether lovely/Altogether worthy/Altogether wonderful to me.../I’ll never know how much it cost/To see my sin upon that cross”. ‘There She Stands’ is a co-write between Smitty and Wes King. It is a highly patriotic song with a Youtube video tribute to September 11th: “When evil calls itself a martyr/When all your hopes come crashing down/Someone will pull her from the rubble/There she stands/We’ve seen her flying torn and tattered/We’ve seen her stand the test of time/And through it all the fools have fallen/There she stands/By the dawn’s/Early light/And through the fight/She stands”.
According to my Collins Pocket Webster’s Thesaurus, synonyms for the verb ‘worship’ are: praise, adore, exalt, glorify, honor, pray to, revere, venerate, love, idolize, and put on a pedestal. Keeping that in mind, I believe WORSHIP AGAIN succeeds in its goal of giving much praise, glory, and honor to the Lord God. As per usual, Michael W. Smith’s vocals are amazing! The multiple background vocalists and the accompanying vocalists add a great choir like feel to this beautifully performed album. The instrumentation is a real treat as well. This is a worthy follow-up to Smitty’s 2001 WORSHIP project. My only beef is that there aren’t two or three faster paced songs on the record for variety. I’m rating WORSHIP AGAIN 90%. For more info visit: www.michaelwsmith.com.