Sunday, April 23, 2017



The multi-artist album MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST came out in 1995.  Its sequel, THE COVENANT, followed the next year (Word/Epic).  The liner notes tell us: “Oswald Chambers had depth of insight into God’s Word few people possess.  He was a young man with a heart bent toward God and wisdom beyond his years...With the exception of the Bible, no book has had such a profound effect on so many lives as Oswald Chamber’s beloved classic ‘My Utmost For His Highest’”.  Producers of THE COVENANT are: Shane Keister, Tommy Sims, Brown Bannister, and John and Dino Elefante, while executive producers are Loren Balman and Brown Bannister.

Starting things off is a lovely vocal performance by Be Be Winans on ‘All of Me’.  Michael W. Smith and Cindy Morgan wrote this adult contemporary ballad that includes these words of testimony: “Blue like the sea/Tears have flowed/So deep through me/Sweet release, precious peace/You have seen all of me.../Time leading on through the storm/Raging strong/I am weak/But You heal and You shield/All of me”.  ‘Reprise (All of Me)’ features The London Session Orchestra and is an instrumental that sounds like a majestic movie score.

Tommy Sims and David Mullen wrote the next song, the title track, ‘The Covenant’.  Anointed sings this calming light R & B song that finds God lovingly speaking to us: “I color life like a painting on your heart and soul/I made the wonder and the mystery you dream of/And if that is not enough/I’ll never leave you/Of all the things I’ve promised you/Remember that love is for always and I will never change/For I have made a promise and so it will be/This is a promise everlasting/I belong to you and you to Me”.  Michael W. Smith, seven backing vocalists, and the Kids Connection Choir sing ‘Someday (Set the Children Free)’.  It’s a beautiful adult contemporary song of optimism: “Someday you’ll find your place in the sun/Someday when all hearts beat as one/You’ll sing with the heart of a child/Someday when the river runs wild/My Father comes to set His children free/Some say it’s a vision/Some say it’s just a dream/I say it’s a promise, a covenant, a destiny/And I will come to set My children free”.

Jerry McPherson and Dann Huff play electric guitars on ‘Through all the Years’.  Greg Long and Joanna Carlson sing this inspirational chorus: “How could I live without You?/Through the years You have been faithful/How could I breathe without You?/It seems so clear that even in the shadowed moments/You were there (2X)/Through the years/All my life”.  Next up is 'Psalm 121' with Susan Ashton on lead vocals.  Shane Keister plays piano, Phil Madeira the B-3 organ, and Blair Masters the keyboards.  It’s a soft praise and worship number: “Oh, the Lord is my keeper/The Lord is the shade on my right hand/The sun shall not hurt me by day, nor the moon by night/The Lord is my keeper/The Lord is the shade on my right hand/Oh, the Lord is my keeper from this time forth and forevermore/The Lord will keep me from all evil/Oh, He will keep my life/The Lord will keep my going out and my coming in”.

Bob Farrell and Robbie Buchanan wrote ‘Make it a Promise’.  Clay Crosse sings this standout adult contemporary ballad of spiritual dedication: “I promise, Lord, that I’ll seek You/I’ll promise all of my ways/I promise I’ll keep standing to the end of my days/I’ll follow Your light and make a home close to Your heart”.  On ‘I Will Follow You’, John Elefante and Lisa Bevill sing these beautiful words: “And we will follow You/Knowing You’ll lead us through/From darkness to Your everlasting light/And we will never walk alone as long as the path is not our own/Like a shadow behind You we’ll be/And the way will be clear as long as we follow You”.

Carl Marsh wrote ‘Reprise (My Utmost for His Highest)’, a creative, contemplative instrumental selection that runs over six minutes long.  It features The London Session Orchestra and builds in intensity.  Last up is ‘Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee’, which here is given the upbeat pop treatment by Michael W. Smith and Anointed, backed by The Born Again Church Choir.  These words speak of God’s marvelous creation: “All Thy works with joy surround Thee/Earth and heaven reflect Thy rays/Stars and angels sing around Thee/Center of unbroken praise/Field and forest, vale and mountain/Flowery meadow, flashing sea/Chanting bird and flowing fountain/Call us to rejoice in Thee”.

MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST: THE COVENANT is mostly a soft adult contemporary record.  God’s love and goodness towards us is a common theme, as are His faithfulness and protection.  Our fitting response to these qualities of our Maker, as laid out in other songs, is to seek after Him and give Him our entire lives.  There are several strong songs here and a few more forgettable ones.  It’s sort of a mixed bag, which is the case with many multi-artist projects.  If you enjoy laid back songs about the Christian life, this album’s for you.  I’m rating it 85%.  For more info connect with the artists on Facebook.