Music Review: Rain City Hymnal

rain_city_hymnalI’ll be honest: I don’t really like Christian music—and I really don’t like a lot of modern “worship” music. Some songs have very God-centered lyrics and theology being espoused, but there’s far too much that (to borrow a phrase) is Christless expounding on nothing.

But I really like old hymns. I enjoy them more every time I listen. This is, in part, because of my theological bend in addition to never having heard them (beyond Amazing Grace in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan). I don’t know what it is, but classic hymns like Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing bring joy to my spirit like nothing else.

So when Re:Sound released Rain City Hymnal last week, I was exceedingly pleased.

The album is a collection of 12 classic hymns from centuries past with updated music to better communicate “an ancient message of truth in music for a particular people, time, and place, ” says Pastor Tim Smith of Mars Hill Church.

So how’d they do?

In short, outstanding.

The Christ-exalting message of every song shines through in a whole new way on Rain City Hymnal. While every track is extremely well done, I want to highlight just a few:

The opener, Doxology, sets the mood of the album just right with music and lyrics that build in power and passion. The bluesy arrangement of What Wondrous Love is This wouldn’t be out of place in Grady’s repertoire, with a well-timed explosion of guitars in the bridge. The powerful lyrics of I Sing the Mighty Power speak for themselves with music that serves to accent their beauty, rather than compete with them. Piano-driven The Solid Rock is simply haunting. The final notes continue to resonate well after the song is done. The BCG’s rendition of Oh, the Deep Deep is stunning. There’s nothing else I can say about it beyond that.

The album’s weakest tracks? I’ll Fly Away and All Creatures. I’ll Fly Away has a bit of a teen drama montage scene feel to it, and All Creatures evokes the early to mid-nineties Seattle rock scene. Both are still well-done and enjoyable, but feel a bit off in comparison to the rest.

Re:Sound has produced a wonderful album in Rain City Hymnal—a combination of evocative, powerful music and stunningly Christ-exalting lyrics. Whether you’ve never tried the hymns before, found them too stodgy, or always loved them, get this record. You can download it for free for a limited time by referring five friends, or pay whatever you want instead at ReSound.org

Get new content delivered to your inbox