Prime Cuts: Blessed Savior, Fount of Grace (Darlene Zschech), No One Like Jesus (Michael W. Smith), The Savior of All (Matt Redman)
Born in Putnam County, New York, Fanny Crosby became ill within two months. Unfortunately, the family doctor was away, and another man-pretending to be a certified doctor-treated her by prescribing hot mustard poultices to be applied to her eyes. Her illness eventually relented, but the treatment left her blind. When the doctor was revealed to be a quack, he disappeared. A few months later, Crosby's father died. Her mother was forced to find work as a maid to support the family, and Fanny was mostly raised by her Christian grandmother. Many of a lesser faith would have had been drenched with bitterness towards God for such a chronology of catastrophes. But not Crosby. Rather, her unfortunate happenstances channelled her to write more than 9,000 hymns to praise of Jesus Christ. Until this day, Crosby's hymns such as "To God Be the Glory," "All the Way My Savior Leads Me," "Blessed Assurance," and "Redeemed" are still the church's worship soundtrack.
This year marks a century since the death of this mammoth scribe. As a tribute to Crosby, Integrity Music has commissioned worship leaders and songwriters to set to music some of Crosby's cache of 2,700 unpublished lyrics and poems. "Blessed Assurance: The New Hymns of Fanny Crosby" is thus the fruit of such a labor of love. Featuring 14 newly penned hymns that utilizes Crosby's lyrics and one Crosby favorite "Blessed Assurance," this album is a star-studded affair that features the vocals from the Who's Who in Christian music. The roll call of artists that sing on this project include Darlene Zschech, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, Ricky Skaggs & the Whites, All Sons and Daughters, Matt Redman, Michael W. Smith, Israel Houghton, Blind Boys of Alabama, Meredith Andrews, Dustin Smith, Paul Baloche, Greg Skyes, Chris McClarney, and others.
When Crosby says, "Oh, what a happy soul I am, / though I cannot see! / I am resolved that in this world / Contented I will be," she really means it. This is most evident in the Michael W. Smith-led ballad "No One Like Jesus." A stunning piano piece written as a love song to Jesus; this isn't just your average grade 6 love poem. Rather, pulsating with an unwavering love for Jesus despite life's torturous avenues, you can't help but shed a tear as Smith croons this worship piece. Darlene Zschech's "Blessed Savior, Fount of Grace" is no less pulverising. Featuring a traditional hymn structure, this former Hillsong worship pastor uses her mellifluous soprano to great effect especially when she sings: "Storms will come and disappear/There'll be joy and there'll be tears/You alone will hold our gaze."
Highly recommended to be a congregational favorite is All Sons and Daughters' "We Are Waiting." Worship leader Matt Redman puts Crosby's poem "The Savior of All" to music, bearing all the marks of those soaring worship ballads Redman is known for. Meredith Andrews is at her prayerful best on the pensive "Wholly Thine," a hymn that could be a future altar call classic. Giving it a jeep-funk read, Chris McClarney is the only artist who gets to sing one of Crosby old favorites "Blessed Assurance." More on the rustic side is the banjo and guitar helmed "All is Well" (Ricky Skaggs and the Whites) and the country and western sounding "I Have Found a Priceless Treasure" (Ernie Haase & Signature Sound).
But not all the songs here pass muster. Dustin Smith's "Hallelujah (King of Glory)" utilizes too many tropes of our modern worship songs that make the song come across as bland. The same can be said of Paul Baloche's "Come to the Water." Being such a veteran songwriter, one would expect a little more from Baloche here. Not too exciting either is Israel Houghton's pedantic entry "In the Blood." Elias Dummer's "I Never, No Never" contains some of Crosby's finest poetry but it is let down by the tune's sleeper melody.
Though "Blessed Assurance: The New Hymns of Fanny Crosby" is by no means perfect. But this project itself is one of historic significance. After being shelved in the coffers for years and years, it's humbling and a privilege to hear these unpublished poems and lyrics see the light of day. Indeed, our lives are definitely richer, deeper, and more fruitful because of these God-glorifying hymns.
Tags : blessed assurance: the new hymns of fanny crosby blessed assurance review blessed assurance album review fanny crosby fanny crosby new album Integrity Music Matt Redman Darlene Zschech all sons and daughters chris mcclarney Israel Houghton dustin smith Michael W. Smith ricky skaggs earnie haase and signature sound the whites New Life Worship elias dummer greg skyes Meredith Andrews Paul Baloche