It wasn’t that long ago that I did not like “Hymns” recordings. Maybe I’m getting old but I think there are better “Hymns” projects being recorded these days. Years ago, every recording seemed to feature the same hymns, just different vocals. Today there seems to be more variety and creativity to remind us there are more than just 8 or 10 hymns to inspire and minister to you. Ann Downing has chosen 11 such hymns which she sings very traditionally, yet in her own way. One thing I particular like about this CD is that each song sounds different: different instruments, arrangements, etc. Jeff Duffield did the orchestrations on this recording, and he did a great job.
As soon as she begins singing I Stand Amazed in the Presence, my heart wells up with praise as I truly think of how wonderful is my Savior’s love for me! This feeling continues to the last note of All That Thrills My Soul.
And Can It Be? deserves a special mention. Very nice musical arrangement and sung in a way that brings the words to life. “My chains fell off. My heart was free. I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.” I’m so glad I did!
There is a Fountain is sung with piano only.
Sue Duffield joined Ann in a beautiful arrangement of Lead Me to Calvary.
Other songs included are: God Leads Us Along, How Firm a Foundation, Footsteps of Jesus, He Giveth More Grace, Blessed Assurance, and He Hideth My Soul.
When I first heard southern gospel music, I fell in love with the harmony of some of the mixed groups of the time. The last little while, we seem to have returned to more of a quartet/male group genre; however, I still love good family harmony when I hear it. That said, I am so glad I finally got to hear The Herb Henry Family last year.
Several groups have recorded Ronnie Hinson’s song, He is Leading the Way, in the last couple years. I’m glad to see that song hasn’t died. I first heard it 25-30 years ago but the message is still relevant.
Healer of Broken Hearts has a great message and great harmony.
Chris Henry wrote Looking Toward Home. “I’ll not grow weary though the journey be rough wherever I roam. I’m looking ahead and I’m looking toward Home.” Amen!
Tougher Than Nails is a song about the cross but Jesus was tougher than nails. He is still ready and willing to forgive you if you reach out to Him.
I love the toe-tapping On the Sea of Life.
Arise is about Christ’s Resurrection.
I remember my mom singing Song Holy Angels Cannot Sing when I was a little girl. The Herb Henry Family does a great job on this Gordon Jensen classic.
Next is an acapella rendition of Golden Bells.
Wish You Could See Me Now is a bit more progressive but I love it.
Another song I absolutely love is Unto the Hills.
The Second Time Around, Jesus won’t be coming as a baby and He won’t be dying on a cross. “He’ll step on a big white cloud when the trumpet sounds to take us Home when He comes the second time around.”
Bless the Lord has a Hawaiian feel to it. It’s straight out of Psalm 103.
Chris Henry wrote about the Perfect Gift which is the one that God gave when He sent His Son to earth.
The children sing Go & Tell. Very cute and a good message.
I work for Family Renewal and handle the itinerary for Israel Wayne, a national speaker, founder of Family Renewal, LLC and author of Homeschooling from a Biblical Worldview, Full-Time Parenting, and Questions God Asks. Would you be interested in helping to organize a seminar with Israel as the speaker? His most popular seminar right now is Revival in the Home which is not homeschool specific but talks about the importance of spending time with your children and discipling them so that they are not among those who leave the faith when they are older. He can also speak on worldview/apologetics, homeschooling, etc. If you have an event coming up where you would like a speaker, that would be great but I could also schedule a seminar when we are going to be going through your area anyway.
Let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you!
P.O. Box 227
Berrien Springs, MI 49103
The CD begins with the rousing Christ is Born, written by Tim Greene.
Follow That Star is a beautiful song. “Just keep the faith when the road gets dark. Don’t be afraid. Love lights the way. Follow that star.”
Daryl Williams wrote Fear Not, after which they sing The Christmas Song.
Folks from Kentucky will like the title song, Christmas in Kentucky.
I love Winter’s Not a Wonderland (Without You). It’s more of a sweet love song. “The snow no longer glistens. Sleigh bells ring but I don’t listen. Winter’s not a wonderland without you.”
Do You Hear the Cry is an uptempo song written by Rodney Griffin.
The tempo slows down with Still Remember When, a song of reminiscence.
A southern gospel Christmas recording doesn’t seem complete without Beautiful Star of Bethlehem.
My favorite Christmas song is O Holy Night, and The Sneed Family does a good job on that beautiful song.
Other songs include Once Upon a Christmas, Unspeakable Joy, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and The Old Story.
Back in September, I had the opportunity to attend the WSGMA Labor Day Celebration in Turlock, CA and I was introduced to The Johnson Family Quartet for the first time. I was instantly struck by their stage presence and their harmony, along with their fun style of singing.
“Open Your Heart and Sing, Sing, Sing!” is an uptempo, fun song.
I love their medley of “Cleanse Me/Whiter Than Snow.”
“Jesus Knows My Name” is another uptempo song with a simple but good message.
“There but by the Grace of God Go I” is a really neat song and one of my favorite songs on the CD.
“I Sing the Mighty Power of God” is an acapella number which showcases their great harmony.
“Brand New Old, Old Story” is a happy song about salvation being the brand new old, old story.
“Autograph” talks about how we can see God’s love all around us.
Bonnie Johnson has a sweet voice and sings, “I Fall On My Knees and Pray.” No matter what you are going through, there is such comfort on your knees, talking with the One who can take your burden away.
They sing a unique arrangement to “Love Lifted Me.”
“I Love Living in Grace” has a “swing” feel to it.
“A Secret Place” is an excellent song penned by Michael Booth. Every time I hear it, I have to ponder: Is there a place in my heart that I wouldn’t want Jesus to go?
An acapella version of “There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit” concludes the recording.
The title track, Just Passing Through, is a great reminder that this world is not our Home. If you’re a child of God, you’re just passing through.
Whiter Than Snow is a testimony of a Believer who has been saved and washed whiter than snow.
The Old Fashioned Way talks about how churches have changed. It’s hard to find churches which still emphasize prayer, repentance and Bible reading.
Do you ever think about where God brought you from? It’s those memories that make me say, I Think I’ll Just Go With God. “With Him, there is joy and blessings untold.” How could you choose any other path?
A great reminder in song is God Saves Old Sinners. I’m so glad He still does!
Kyla Rowland wrote four songs on this project. But I Met a Nazarene is one of them. “All I can say is I had no hope but I met a Nazarene.” Is that your testimony? I remember the days of no hope. I’m so grateful I met this Nazarene.
He’s Alive is another great song of hope and victory.
The Rock of Ages also tells the story of the death and resurrection of our Savior.
“I may never visit where He died but I’m Going Where He Lives.” I’m so looking forward to that day!
I love the song, Did I Mention, another Kyla Rowland song. “Did I mention He’s been faithful to every promise He ever made me? I love Him. That’s all I want to say.”
Most of the songs on this CD are slow to medium tempo but I’m Learning How to Lean picks up the tempo a bit. I’ve been walking with God for over 20 years but I feel at times like I’m still learning how to lean on Him completely.
I think the perfect ending to a CD which focuses on salvation and redemption is I Want to Stroll Over Heaven With You.
Last year, a female trio formed and called themselves Still Blessed. Their music would be considered southern gospel but their sound fluctuates from a little southern to country to inspirational.
The CD begins with a song I enjoy. Originally recorded by the Whisnants, Christina Dulworth does a good job on “New Day Dawning.”
Group member Marsha Moats wrote and sang, “From His Cross.”
Group member Sis Monroe wrote “Our Loving Master,” which Sis sings with feeling.
Sis Monroe also wrote “It’s All Good.” The sound on this song reminds me a little of the Perry Sisters.
Next is an old Bishops song, “Battle Scarred Soldier.”
Sung and written by Sis, “I Still Have Victory” is a song which I think has an old feel to it, as it kinda gently swings.
On the title track, they brought in mandolin and fiddle, giving it a slight bluegrass sound musically.
Marsha sings, “When a King Loved a Beggar.” The music, harmony and lyrics all make this an especially beautiful song.
You may remember “Still Blessed” from when the Perrys sang it a few years back. This group does a good job on it as well.
I like “It’s Not So Hard to Praise Him,” an uptempo toe tapper. It also proclaims the truth. It’s really not hard to praise the Lord when you think of everything He’s done for you.
Christina Dulworth sings, “I’ve Been to the Well.”
Christina also sings, “Celebrate Me Home,” a song the Perrys made famous but I never get tired of hearing it. A great message.
There are some clips of some of these songs on the group’s website. I hope you’ll go hear them as I think you’ll enjoy them.
The Mark Trammell Quartet recently put out a collection of old Cathedral Quartet songs.
“Echoes from the Burning Bush” is an old song which several groups have sung but MTQ keeps the Cathedrals’ arrangement. Pat Barker does a great job on the bass on this song.
“Gentle Shepherd” was written by Bill Gaither but is another song the Cathedrals sang a lot. For this song, they used a “live” version.
The first Cathedral’s recording I ever owned was ‘Traveling Live.” On this cassette was “Bloodwashed Band.” I loved it then and still don’t get tired of hearing it.
One of the best baritones in the business, Mark Trammell sings “That Day at Calvary.”
Although Pat Barker does not sound like George Younce, as he sang “I’ll Have a New Life” and “Everybody Will Be Happy Over There,” it brought back to mind the years of George singing those same songs down to the “We’re gonna shout” at the end of the song.
Neil Enloe wrote “Statue of Liberty.” If you’ve not heard it, the first verse talks about the Statue of Liberty and how privileged we are to be Americans while the second verse talks about how the cross is our true Statue of Liberty.
“An Old Convention Song” is another song in which they recorded a “live” version.
“I Thirst” was written by Mark Lowry’s mother, Beverly. I don’t know if she’s written many songs but this one was well written and nicely performed first by the Cathedrals and now by the Mark Trammell Quartet.
I never tire of hearing Mark Trammell sing “Master Builder.” The recording with that title was one of my favorite Cathedral recordings.
The first time I heard “Wedding Music” was live in concert. I sometimes wonder, “Is that wedding music that I hear?”
“Then I Met the Master” is another great song.
Last but not least, the CD ends with “Boundless Love.”
It’s hard to believe but up until a little over a week and a half ago, I had never seen the McKameys outside of the National Quartet Convention so I was thrilled when we were in MO and I found they were going to be at a church about an hour from where we were staying. I confess I was a bit stressed as we headed to where we thought the church was and ended up being in a residential area. God led us, though, and we ended up arriving right at 7:00. Not only that, we were able to sit on the front row!
If you’ve talked to anyone who has ever met the McKameys, the word you’ve probably heard the most is “genuine” and I can attest to the fact that they are that. I’m truly convinced that what you see is what you get.
Songs sung at the concert included:
Joy in the Journey – the title song of their latest CD.
Between 12 and 33 – a song I’ve loved since I first heard it sung at NQC. As my birthday approaches, I find myself singing this song more. Although older than 33, to me, it’s a reminder of how faithful Jesus was to His father even at a young age and how He desires to use me as well. I don’t know if that’s what the writer intended to say through the song but that’s where my mind goes when I hear it.
I Made Up My Mind – I needed to hear this song. I find it easy to live life doing what others think I should do instead of pressing in to know what God desires me to do. I need not worry about what others think. God’s approval should be all that matters.
God Saves Ol’ Sinners – Reuben sang this song. Very simple but true.
All That Matters - a song in which Eli is featured, recorded on their latest CD
When Faith Steps In - “When you open your eyes to that Heavenly scene and you realize it’s not a dream, that’s when faith will end.” Can you imagine the day when our faith becomes sight? When we not only believe that Heaven is real but we know it’s real?
God on the Mountain – I don’t suppose a McKamey’s concert would be complete without this song. The first time I heard of them, someone gave me a cassette which included this song. All these years later, I never tire of hearing it. I guess most people don’t.
I Made it by Grace – It’s by grace that we’re saved, not by works lest anyone should boast. This is also off the Joy in the Journey CD.
After this first set, there was an intermission and an offering was taken. When the group returned to the stage, they sang what I believe was all requests. These included:
I’ll Be Looking for You – Featuring Reuben and Peg, this was on the tape with “God on the Mountain” so I would not have thought to request this song but someone did and I was blessed to be able to see them sing this live.
Shepherd’s Point of View – The McKamey’s song list is full of songs encouraging people in the midst of trials and this song sung by Sheryl Ferris is one of those. You may not know why you face such mountains here on earth but one day you will be able to see from the Shepherd’s point of view.
Roll That Burden on Me – is another great song of encouragement. If you’re weighted down with the worries of life, you simply need to roll your burden onto the Father. Nothing is too heavy for Him.
I Prayed for You – If someone has ever said this to you, you know what a blessing it is when God lays you on someone’s heart and they take the time to pray for you.
Do You Know How It Feels – This is one of my favorite McKameys songs so I was grateful that they included it in their program. I’m so glad I know how it feels to be a child of God.
Right on Time – “Look ahead. Here comes Jesus right on time.” His timing is always perfect.
Other songs on the Joy in the Journey CD include:
I Have a Great Savior – talks about the greatness of our Lord.
Glorify the Lord in the Fire – Peg McKamey Bean sings this song which talks about the Hebrew children and how they glorified the Lord in the fire. Then verse 2 talks about the trials of life and how we still need to trust God and glorify Him in fiery trials.
All is Well – Connie Fortner sings this song in which the first verse talks about Christ’s resurrection. The next verse talks about a loved one who died but who is now in Heaven. All is well!
Remember When – Reuben Bean sings about “when Jesus saved my soul … made me whole … gave me peace within when He took away all my sin.”
He Gave - Peg sings about the various things which Jesus gave, the greatest gift being His life.
God Doesn’t Think Like Me - There may be times you wish God would write your life differently but you don’t see the whole picture. Seek first His Kingdom and be transformed by renewing your mind. God doesn’t think like you.
Although one of the longest running southern gospel groups still singing today, the Kingsmen continue to get better each time I hear them.
“Back to Grace” has a country feel and tells us there’s always a way back to grace. No matter what you’ve done, you can return.
“What a Hallelujah Day” is an uptempo quartet song, one of my favorite styles that the Kingsmen do.
Harold Reed sings a powerful song, “That’s When I Knew It Was Him.”
Last year at the National Quartet Convention, the Kingsmen’s new song was “He’s Everything I Need.” I still love that song and often play it when I need encouragement. He truly is everything I need.
The title song states, “When you least deserve me, ‘Grace Says’ I’ll be here for you.”
Bryan Hudson sings “Ordinary Man” which talks about how an ordinary man is more than ordinary with God.
“I Can Hardly Wait” is another uptempo song with Harold Reed on the lead.
Randy Crawford sings the first 2 verses of “If Not for the Love of Christ” with Bryan Hudson singing the last verse. I heard Mercy’s Way sing that a few years back and love the song.
“After the Sunrise” is an old song which I know I’ve heard before but it’s been a LONG time.
The tempo slows down for “Loving Shepherd Gracious God.” Just reading the title, it says so much. God truly is loving and gracious.
The latest CD from the Cavaliers starts with a song I’d not heard for a few years. Bass singer Wayne O’Neal sings lead on “Do It By the Book.”
“Living in Grace” is a mid-tempo song written by Rodney Griffin.
I really like “Dying to Live Again,” a powerful reminder that death is not forever. Christians really are dying to live again.
“It Takes Faith” reminds us that it takes both a little hard work and a lot of faith to please God.
“I Know My Redeemer Lives” is a story in song about Job. No matter what the devil throws at you, remind him that your Redeemer lives.
“Nothing but the Blood” is an uptempo song about the blood of Christ.
The tempo slows down for “Grace Had Mercy On Me” which was written by baritone singer, Anthony O’Neal.
“What a Wonderful Change” is a song of testimony.
The CD ends with songs of worship: “You are the Only One” and “Not to Us O Lord.”