Friday, March 16, 2018
AMAZING GRACE: 14 HYMNS AND GOSPEL FAVORITES
Glen Travis Campbell was born on April 22, 1936 in Billstown, Arkansas. He was a member of The Wrecking Crew who in the 60's and 70's played on thousands of studio recordings, many of which were Top 40 hits. He was also, of course, a country music superstar. In 2004 he put out the two disc collection LOVE IS THE ANSWER: 24 SONGS OF FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE. It is currently out of print. Fast forward to 2018 and Gaither Music Group has released AMAZING GRACE: 14 HYMNS AND GOSPEL FAVORITES which takes 14 of the songs from the 2004 release and puts them onto one cd.
1. First up is an upbeat country version of 'Love Lifted Me', a song of testimony: "I was sinking deep in sin far from the peaceful shore/Very deeply stained within/Sinking to rise no more/But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry/From the waters lifted me/Now safe am I/Love lifted me! (2X)/When nothing else could help/Love lifted me".
2. 'O, How I Love Jesus' is an old Sunday School favorite of mine. The version here is pleasant and makes good use of organ and again testifies: "O, how I love Jesus (3X)/Because He first loved me/There is a Name I love to hear/I love to sing its worth/O, it sounds like music in my ear/O, the sweetest Name on earth".
3. 'Rock of Ages' is a beloved, slow hymn that begins with these words of prayer: "Rock of Ages, cleft for me/Let me hide myself in Thee/Let the water and the blood/From Thy wounded side which flowed/Be of sin the double cure/Saved from wrath and make me pure".
4. 'What A Friend We Have in Jesus' is a ballad of spiritual comfort: "Can we find a friend so faithful/Who will all our sorrow share?/Jesus knows our every weakness/So take it to the Lord in prayer".
5. Next up is the title track, 'Amazing Grace'. It makes great use of bagpipes and is a strong testimonial: "Amazing grace, Lord how sweet the sound/That saved a wretch like me/I once was lost, but now am found/Was blind but now I see/'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear/And grace my fears relieved/How precious did that grace appear/O, the hour I first believed".
6. Here, 'The Old Rugged Cross' is an old country ballad that reflects on both Calvary and heaven: "To the old rugged cross I will ever be true/Its shame and reproach gladly bear/Then He'll call me some day to my home far away/Where His glory forever I'll share".
7. 'Just A Closer Walk with Thee' has a cool, bouncy beat to it and nice backing vocals. It includes these prayerful words: "Just a closer walk with Thee/O grant it, Jesus, is my plea/Daily walking close to Thee/O, let it be, dear Lord, let it be".
8. 'Mary, Did You Know?' is now an inspirational Christmas classic. It includes these wonderful words: "Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?/Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?/Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?/And this child that you'll deliver will soon deliver you?.../The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again/The lame will leap, the dumb will speak the praises of the Lamb".
9. ''Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus' is a pretty ballad that speaks of intimacy with Christ: "I'm so glad I learned to trust Him/Precious Jesus, Savior, and Friend/And I know that He is with me/Will be with me to the end".
10. An upbeat country version of 'He Leadeth Me' follows. The last verse looks forward with hope, to death: "And when my task on earth is done/When by Thy grace the victory's won/Even death's cold wave I will not flee/Since God through Jordan leadeth me".
11. A cheerful country version of 'I Love to Tell the Story' is up next. It speaks of witnessing: "I love to tell the story/'Tis pleasant to repeat/What seems each time I tell it more wonderfully sweet/I love to tell the story/For some have never heard/The message of salvation from God's own holy Word".
12. 'Blessed Assurance' begins with these oh so familiar words: "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine/O what a foretaste of glory divine/Heir of salvation, purchase of God/Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood".
13. 'I Need Thee Every Hour' speaks of total dependence on God: "I need Thee, oh I need Thee/Every hour I need Thee/Oh, bless me now my Savior/I come to Thee".
14. Last up is 'Lean on Me' penned by Bill Withers and released by him on April 21, 1972. Glen's R&B version here is actually pretty good and has a good message: "Lean on me/When you're not strong/And I'll be your friend/I'll help you carry on/O, for, for it won't be long/'Til I'm gonna need/Somebody to lean on".
For those of us who grew up in the evangelical church these songs will no doubt bring back fond memories of our early church homes and experiences. There are nine slower paced songs and five faster paced songs here, with the majority being performed old country gospel style. Several songs declare our love for God and our trust in Him, while many others speak of God's love and care for us. The main way He demonstrated those attributes for us was at Calvary on the cross, sealing our redemption and salvation. Heaven is another common theme. Also included are a modern Christmas classic about Jesus, and a pop hit about true friendship and brotherhood. I'm rating AMAZING GRACE-14 HYMNS AND GOSPEL FAVORITES, which runs 48 minutes and 9 seconds, a 97%. For more info visit: www.gaither.com and www.glencampbell.com.