Reviewed by Dale Lewis
Hymned Again by Bart Millard
"...a diversified smorgasboard offering the listener New Orleans influenced horn-driven jazz to Texas blue-rock guitar to bluegrass to... country. "
Most of these hymns on Hymned Again date back to the 1800s and talk about sharing one’s faith during the era when evangelism was on the rise. Bart states, “These are the songs that were a huge part of my upbringing.” As a pastor’s kid raised in The Salvation Army with these powerful hymns, I would agree wholeheartedly!
Bart Millard, of the band MercyMe, teams up with producer Brown Bannister as he did with the first release, Hymned. Millard shares his passionate vocals with a sweet, supporting line up of studio musicians. Hymned Again is a diversified smorgasboard offering the listener New Orleans influenced horn-driven jazz to Texas blue-rock guitar to bluegrass to . . . country. Don’t let this scare you non-country fans from buying this CD!
One of my favorite cuts is “I Stand Amazed” performed as a simple melody without the instrumentation consuming the powerful lyrics. It was a needed reprise amongst all the other hymns. Others I liked were “What a Day That Will Be,” “Victory in Jesus,” and “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” which is showcased in a 1970s funk-soul arrangement. The horn section has a Denver and the Mile High Orchestra flavor especially on “What a Day That Will Be.” The clarinet and ukulele share the spotlight also in these modern day arrangements.
Deep within there is a part of me longing for the hymns of old to remain untouched — left as originally performed for no better reason than out of reverence and respect for the lyrics. And there is part of me that thoroughly enjoyed these new arrangements, (well, most of them) . . . listening to the joyful noise while drawing a new appreciation for the message of these God-ordained lyrics.
Thanks Bart for stepping out again and reminding us that the songs of the past need to find new life in the present, (although I would consider deleting that musical saw in “What a Friend”). I can’t wait to get to heaven to sing these hymns, in whatever version, to God’s glory! I might even pick up my trumpet and join in on the worship.Dale Lewis now mans the front desk at the EFCA (The Evangelical Free Church of America) National Office in Minneapolis, MN. He was the graphic designer/pre-press production artist for over twelve years before being asked to step into this new role. Prior to that, he was the publications manager at his alma mater, Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN in the public relations office as well as the adviser to the college’s yearbook. He's a director/actor/writer for the Hope Church (Oakdale, MN) adult drama worship team and was the senior editor of the church newsletter. He's also written two collections of poetry, “Whispers of Assurance” and “On Life: Constant Communion Without Ceasing” as well as a devotional entitled “Eternal Education.” He and his family live in Oakdale, Minnesota.