StowTown Records have just released a historic project, Fanny Crosby: Newly Discovered Hymns & Songs. Fanny Crosby is an iconic part of the fabric of faith in America, penning over 8,000 hymns and gospel songs. These classics of the church include "Blessed Assurance," "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour," "I Am Thine, O Lord," "Tell Me the Story of Jesus," among others.
Recently, a treasure trove of unfinished and unpublished works was found by Stephen Kelley (associate producer) at Wheaton College. This discovery gave Wayne Haun (producer/StowTown co-owner) an idea - to finish these lyrics with some of today's top writers and give life to these songs with performances by 15 of today's top artists in inspirational, bluegrass and gospel music.
Along with Crosby, additional writers on this project include Sue C. Smith, Marcia Henry, Rachel McCutcheon, Val Dacus, Dianne Wilkinson, Melissa Brady, Jim Brady, Lee Black, Don Poythress, Jeff Bumgardner, Joel Lindsey, Scott Inman, Tim Lovelace, Randall Garland and Wayne Haun.
Fanny Crosby: Newly Discovered Hymns & Songs is available at your local Christian retailer and on iTunes, Amazon and other digital outlets as well as Christian Book Distributors here.
We are honored to be able to chat with co-producer and songwriter Wayne Haun and Keith Erwin of the Erwins about this historic project.
Q: How did this project come about?
Wayne Haun: Stephen Kelley, who is a historian, found all of these unfinished lyrics - poems, hymns, and devotionals - penned by the late Fanny Crosby. He reached out to us and asked if we (StowTown) would be interested in looking at them, possibly finishing the songs and then recording them. Immediately, I called our Executive Producers (Landon Beene & Ernie Haase) and said, "This is the opportunity of a lifetime!" Obviously, we said yes!
Q: What was your favorite Fanny Crosby hymn? Why?
Wayne Haun: Definitely "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour." As a kid, this was my favorite hymn melody. As an adult, it has become my favorite hymn lyric.
Keith Erwin: "All The Way My Savior Leads Me," because the lyrics and message are obviously timeless, but the melody of this song has always been one of my favorites. I've never heard another song written with it's particular tune.
Q: Before you got involved in this new project, were you familiar with the hymns of Fanny Crosby?
Keith Erwin: Absolutely! The songs that God gave her are not just inspiring, but bring back so many wonderful memories of my childhood, as we were in church, somewhere, almost every night of my upbringing singing her great songs out of a hymn book.
Q: Is there room for hymns today in the church? Why are they important? In your own opinion, what's the value of these new hymns?
Wayne Haun: These new hymns and songs continue the legacy of historical hymn writers and, specifically, of Fanny Crosby. Words that were written well over 100 years ago are still true and vital to the Church today. They might sound a little different, but the message is timeless and relevant. They connect hearts and souls across generational and denominational lines. And when we sing them together, we are unified. That's the beauty of music - the beauty of hymns.
Keith Erwin: They usher us into the arena of worship. JUST LIKE THE OLD HYMNS have done time after time. It may be a new song, but it's the same gospel.
Q: How did you become involved in this new Fanny Crosby project?
Keith Erwin: Our producer, Wayne Haun, called and asked us if we would be interested in doing one of the songs. He presented us with this opportunity, and we are forever grateful to Him for entrusting us with a lyric penned by one of the greatest songwriters that has ever lived.
Q: What was the song you contributed to this new album? And why did you choose it?
Keith Erwin: "Calmly Resting In The Lord" covers the beautiful promise that we can cast all of our cares on our Lord. Wayne actually picked this song out for us. However, it would have been our choice. We love the song.