Academic journal article The Hymn

The Truth That Sets Us Free: Biblical Songs for Worship

Academic journal article The Hymn

The Truth That Sets Us Free: Biblical Songs for Worship

Article excerpt

The Truth That Sets Us Free: Biblical Songs for Worship by John L. Bell. Glasgow, Scotland: The Wild Goose Resource Group/Iona Community; distributed by GIA, Chicago, IL, 2012. ISBN 978-1-57999-971-1. $14.95 CD CD-909, $16.95.

John Bell, FHS, has put together this collection of biblical songs for worship out of his concern that the widespread use of popular praise songs in today's churches has been at the expense of songs and hymns that allow congregations to express other concerns of their faith. The twenty-one songs in The Truth That Sets Us Free offer a more balanced diet of devotional music for congregations to sing in public worship. Most of the songs have biblical roots and references. Some have seasonal or liturgical use, and others are suited for more general occasions. Some offer jubilant praise, some express anger at social injustice or a yearning for comfort and guidance in times of sorrow and doubt.

Eleven of the songs are Bell's original tunes and texts, and most of the others he has translated, adapted, and/ or arranged from traditional songs from South Africa, Palestine, Mozambique, Singapore, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, and Nigeria. He has also included an African American spiritual and a psalm paraphrase set to the tune for a lament composed by an incarcerated Queen Lili' Uokalani of Hawaii in 1895.

The collection offers opportunities for solos and choral singing in unison, two, and four parts, a cappella or with accompaniment. There are cyclical songs that can be sung repetitively for meditation or during liturgical movement, chants that can be used alone or responsively with verses by a cantor, and strophic, sequential hymns with a contemporary sound. The quality and creativity of both texts and tunes are what we have come to expect from Bell and his Wild Goose Resource Group colleagues. A master at teaching ordinary congregations to sing in four parts, Bell knows how to write and arrange songs to fit his methods. …

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