Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Hymnody Resurgent: Alabama
Red Mountain Music. All Things New. Birmingham, AL: Red Mountain Music, 2010. mp3 album download (and pdf songbook available separately). $10.00. (CD available for $12.00.) http://redmountainmusic.bandcamp.com/ http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/redmountainmusic http://www.redmountainmusic.com/index.html http://www.facebook.com/pages/Red-Mountain-Music/36451400335?sk=info (H)
Our continuing series on Hymnody's resurgence in American Christianity takes us to Birmingham, Alabama. Red Mountain Music has a connection to Red Mountain Church, a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.
The group's overall approach sounds very similar to that of David Potter and Hymns CXVI. Click on the links to read our reviews of their hymns.
To listen to portions of the album All Things New, see the embed below:
The title track, "All Things New," leads off the album pairs a new 2009 Clint Wells tune to the 1779 Horatius Bonar text. Listeners will hear new tunes for old texts on "Were You There?", "Spread Thy Wings," "My Business Lies at Jesus' Gate," "the Secret Place," "Come Dearest Lord," "Why So Heavy?","Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed," and "Come All Ye Pining."
"Psalm 126" from the famous Watts Psalter is given a new tune. The RMM "Sanctus" is memorable. I can imagine putting both to use with proper copyright permission.
"How Sweet to Wait," "Garden to City," "To Thee I Come" was/were not found in the Red Mountain Music Songbook I was given.
The new melodies of RMM are modern and meditative, yet learnable and singable. Accompaniment is largely acoustic with only occasional electric guitar, and lively yet reverent, even at slower tempos. I want to hear more from this group of Christian musicians.
A new generation of Christians is rediscovering our common Christian heritage of hymns. Red Mountain Music is but another example of a resurgent hymnody, a textual and musical heritage that lay fallow during the Baby Boom generation of Church Growth methods and impersonal Mega-churches, growing again with new life and creativity. These hymns carry forward centuries-old texts that have never been irrelevant, but merely out of favor with now-dead fads. Instrumentation and melodies may be different, yet hymnody still lives in Christ's Church.
Older hymn tunes that wear well will undoubtedly live on. I noted once again this Christmas Day that one of the best Martin Luther hymn texts will likely remain a treasure hidden in open sight if a congregation cannot or does not learn the original tune. I think we Americans have so long associated certain texts with certain tunes that it will be of benefit for us to sing old texts to newly-composed (or more singable different) hymn tunes.
Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.