Sometimes I think that in the pre-existence, when we were developing and growing and getting ready to come down to earth, some of us signed up for some music classes. We might have even signed a pre-earth recording contract. And in that contract it must’ve had a “hymn clause”. This said that if, in the earth life, we were to become musicians, and we were to end up doing recordings, we would be spiritually obligated to do an complete album of hymn arrangements.
And every time I see one in a store, or on a website, a part of me wants to roll my eyes and say, “Oh, no, not again…”
But then I listen. And it turns out that about half the time, I’m surprised. I mean, I admit, I’m jaded. I’ve heard so many flowery new-agey-solo-piano versions of our best loved hymns, that I think I’ve heard them all. But at least half of them still catch my ear and make me say, “My word, that’s NEW!”
That must be what Clayton was aiming at when he chose the name for this CD: “Hymns Anew”. As I listened, I was just amazed at how fresh and original the arrangements were. And they’re simple. Not a lot of orchestration. Overall, there was a folksy feel to most of them, yet with a contemporary edge. There was an energy to them that I usually don’t find in Hymns.
The first one to really grab me was the driving piano of “Come Come Ye Saints”. Wow. This sound would make me want to stand up and follow. And then later on the CD, there was an a capella, do-wop-ish version of the same arrangement. That was cool.
“Adam-Ondi-Ahman” (also known as “The Earth Was Once a Garden Place”) Had a really fun touch with the tin whistle and the guitar, and the tempo was a little livelier than I was used to. “Come Thou Font of Every Blessing” was one of my favorites arrangements of one of my favorite hymns.
The only track that I felt didn’t really live up to the others was “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief”. It was performed well, but as a piano solo, it just didn’t carry anything new for me. Not like the others did. I felt like I’d heard that one before. But it still sounded great, and was very well done.
I’d strongly recommend this CD. It’s truly Hymns, done Anew.
It also made me think of what I'd like to do when I record my contractual hymns CD...