Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Music Review: Untitled Hymn - A Collection of Hymns by Chris Rice

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great modern collection of timeless hymns
Cons: Does nothing to change my mind on “Were You There”
The Bottom Line:
Simple, timeless hymns
Lyrics with eternal truths
Will listen for years

Chris Rice is Back with Another Great Collection of Hymns

It’s been several years since the last time Chris Rice put out any new music, and that was a wonderful collection of hymns.  I was thrilled to see we were getting Untitled Hymn: A Collection of Hymns this year.  Yes, it is another collection of hymns, and yes, it’s good.

This really is a perfect companion to Peace Like a River, Chris’s last hymn collection.  Once again, we’ve got twelve hymns simply arranged but beautifully sung.  And, the simple arrangements can help focus us on the wonderful lyrics.  Each track starts out with Chris on either piano or guitar and his vocals.  However, as the songs progress, other elements are woven in – we get other instruments, Chris provides some background vocals on some tracks, and a small choir joins him on others.  There are even strings on “Amazing Grace” that make the track stand out.

And the lyrics.  Oh the lyrics.  There is a reason we still know and sing these songs years, decades, and sometimes centuries after they were written.  The lyrics pack so much truth into them that my spirit starts to soar within seconds as I mediate on them.  Is there anything better than thinking about God?  Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be writing and listening to modern music today.  I just happen to be in the AND camp.  I enjoy modern music AND classic hymns, especially new recordings of the hymns.

Long time Chris Rice fans will recognize “Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)” as an original song that Chris first recorded on Run the Earth, Watch the Sky.  Yes, he did rerecord it for this project and it fits in with the songs around it.

Chris has added a new two-line refrain to “O For a Thousand Tongues.”  It took me a couple of listens, but now I love it.  Likewise, he has made a couple of tweaks to “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” but they quickly grew on me.

For me the only misstep on the disc is “Were You There,” and that’s just because I have never liked this hymn.  As a literal minded kid, the first time I heard this song, I thought to myself, “Of course, I wasn’t here.  I’m not two thousand years old,” and I have never been able to shake that thought no matter when I listen to this song.  Fans of the song will definitely still appreciate it.

I was completely unfamiliar with “Too Much I Love” before buying this release.  It’s what you’d expect, a lament about loving the world too much, and it’s quickly growing on me.

Best I can tell, this was released as a digital only project.  I certainly haven’t been able to track down a way to buy a physical CD, so adjust your buying strategy accordingly.

But definitely plan to get Untitled Hymn.  The lyrics never get old because of the timeless truths they contain.

Length: 40:38
1. What a Friend We Have in Jesus
2. Amazing Grace
3. Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)
4. O For a Thousand Tongues
5. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
6. This is My Father’s World
7. There is a Fountain
8. Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
9. Hallelujah, What a Savior
10. Were You There
11. Fairest Lord Jesus
12. Too Much I Love

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