Magazine article Anglican Journal

Country Salutes Gospel Music

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Country Salutes Gospel Music

Article excerpt

While there have been outstanding examples of Canadian church music during this century just ending - most notably the exquisite work of Healey Willan - the sacred music of the 20th century most familiar and beloved to the average Canadian Anglican is neither of Canadian origin, nor of the sacramental tradition.

In that our musical tastes have been heavily impacted by our neighbors to the south it is, perhaps, not surprising that writers like Stuart Hine and Austin Miles have seen their pieces adopted by the generations of the 20th century. While one could lament the fact that the melodies are trite, if contagious, and the theology and storyline are often simplistic, the fact remains that more listeners are taken with a maudlin twilight zone tale of a stroll with God in a garden that must end with a return to this life (Miles' In The Garden), than the brilliant work of Willan and his contemporaries.

As such, Amazing Grace - A Country Salute to Gospel is sheer marketing genius. Songs known to many listeners largely as the versions by overwrought warblers like George Beverly Shea and Tennessee Ernie Ford are allowed to shine on their own in largely understated country arrangements. In the hands of country pop poster boy John Berry, the prolific Fanny Crosby's Blessed Assurance, earnest if simplistic theology and forgettable poetry, is sincerely allowed to stand on its own, aided by Phoebe Knapp's timeless knack for a memorable tune.

Similarly, the hymn of praise, How Great Thou Art, gets an opportunity to have the greatness of God proclaimed in Hine's lyrics which serve as the thing that touches the listener; Perry F. …

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