BY TRACEY EVISON
There is only a small list of music styles that I don’t like, but one of my favourite types of albums to hear are collections of hymns.
I enjoy the life breathed into the traditional songs and all the many variations artists will attempt (some successfully and some not) as they create variations of favourite hymns.
This week, I had the opportunity to listen to Casting Crowns’ “Glorious Day: Hymns of Faith”, produced by frontman Mark Miller along with Terry Hemmings and released from the Provident Label Group. I knew when I looked at the track list that some of these songs would be familiar from previous Casting Crowns albums. However, the band included a few songs I didn’t expect, along with a couple that I might not consider hymns and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.
The album opens with a much more subdued version of “When We All Get to Heaven” than I’m used to. Casting Crowns uses simple acoustic instrumentation and a slower tempo to give emphasis to the lyric, “Onward to the prize before us/ soon His beauty we’ll behold/ Soon the pearly gates will open/ We shall tread the streets of gold.” Truly, these are words that should inspire awe.
“Nothing but the Blood” is a distinctly Casting Crowns variation on the familiar hymn. The band’s style is clear through their rendition, and the tune is new but beautifully singable. Another hymn given a new treatment on this album is “At Calvary.” Again, I was surprised with the change in melody, as this rousing hymn is one of my favourites, but Casting Crowns uses a gentler tune to add emphasis to the oft-sung refrain. “There Your mercy and Your grace was free/ There Your pardon multiplied to me.”
“My Jesus, I Love Thee” sounds like the familiar melody I know and love, but with a few more minor chords for emphasis. “I Surrender All (All to Jesus)” was also given a new treatment but, again, one that is refreshing and lovely. Also included in the album are familiar hits from previous CDs - “Glorious Day” and “Blessed Redeemer”.
I was surprised to see Casting Crowns’ hits “If We are the Body” and “Praise You in the Storm” as part of the tracklist on a hymns collection. By its very nature, a hymn to me is a song that would be sung in church, and those two don’t seem to fit the bill. “Sweet Beulah Land”, which concludes the album, would be immensely suitable, however, and filled me with an urge to return to the Southern Gospel music I listened to so much in my childhood.
Overall, I was very pleased with Casting Crowns’ “Glorious Day: Hymns of Faith.” The band gives a new treatment to several familiar hymns and allows listeners to hear these tunes with fresh ears.
Tracey Evison, a musician and educator on P.E.I., writes this column for The Guardian every second Saturday. She can be contacted by email at email@example.com.