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Recently, a treasure trove of unfinished and unpublished works was found by Stephen Kelley (associate producer) at Wheaton College.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 Melissa Brady of the Jim Brady Trio about this historic project.
Q: Before you got involved in this new project, were you familiar with the hymns of Fanny Crosby?
Melissa Brady: Yes! Growing up, my family attended a little country church in Ohio and we sang from a red-back hymnal. Oh, how I loved singing those songs. When I got a little older and began writing, I realized that so many of the hymns I had enjoyed singing as a child were actually written by Fanny Crosby. It was inspiring to fully see what a prolific writer she was, and it was humbling to know that, in spite of the hardships she had faced, she was able to write with great faith in her God, hope for her future and thankfulness for the life she'd been given.
Q: What was your favorite Fanny Crosby hymn? Why?
Melissa Brady: I have always loved "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour," and I recorded it as a soloist many years ago. The lyric resonates with my soul, as it calls out to God, asking Him to be a part of our lives; to help us in our times of fear and unbelief, then praises Him, acknowledging that He is everything we need.
Q: How did you become involved in this new Fanny Crosby project?
Melissa Brady: Our friend, Landon Beene, of Stowtown Records, contacted my husband, Jim, to see if we would be interested in being a part of the project, and saying yes was an easy answer. Shortly after that, we received an email filled with lyrics that, until now, were without melodies. It was the honor of a lifetime to add a little of our musical heart to this great project. Who would have ever dreamed that today, years after her passing, a few blessed writers would have the incredible privilege of putting our names next to Fanny Crosby's? Tears spill over at the thought.
Q: What was the song you contributed to this new album? Tell us what your song is about?
Melissa Brady: There were so many great lyrics to choose from, it took us a while to decide, but we chose a song that's simply titled "Jesus." I loved the meter of the lyric and how it flowed. It felt as if the melody was already there, hidden within the beat of each word. The lyrics are filled with praise and honor to Jesus, and repeat His name throughout each refrain, a constant reminder that He is our comfort and guide.
Q: In your own opinion, what is the value of these new hymns?
Melissa Brady: I've found great value in the encouragement these songs bring. Our group, The Jim Brady Trio, got to sing our song for the recording, and it was during the final mixing of the song that we fully realized what an encouragement it would be to us beyond the writing process. We had just gone through two years of heartache. We'd faced the loss of four family members, been burdened by hardships beyond our control, and devastated by the loss of relationships we thought would be a part of our lives forever. In listening to the mix of our song, tears flowed as the lyric encouraged us to trust Jesus in the storms, to lean on Him in our pain and to celebrate the day when Earth's heartaches will be over. We found ourselves worshiping and tears flowed as we sang the last line, "All glory be to Jesus!"
Q: Is there room for hymns today in the church? Why are they important?
Melissa Brady: I believe hymns will forever be a vital part of our Christian walk, because the lyrics of songs like "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour" and "Just As I Am" call us to answer, as they prompt us to make a move toward Jesus. We're also facing the same hardships faced by the early hymn writers, so their lyrics are still relevant today. Who better to encourage us in our faith than writers like Fanny Crosby, who have been through great difficulty and found a way to praise God in the midst of it? If we, as writers today, can continue in the tradition of hymn writing, we will, hopefully, bring the same hope and encouragement to others that those early hymns brought to us.