Wayfaring Stranger
Artist: John Catchings

Cellist John Catchings’ Wayfaring Stranger presents a concert of 12 traditional Christian hymns and songs played by a “cello choir” comprising one to nine cellos, all played by Mr. Catchings. Some pieces include guitar, percussion or both.

The recording is a refreshing surprise, showcasing excellent technique and strong song selection.

There’s no mediocrity here; Catchings clearly knows his instrument, and the recording and mixing are top-notch. The songs are slow and contemplative, mixing Christian hymns and songs such as Jesu, Meine Freude and The Lord Bless You and Keep You.

Some songs translate to cello choir better than others. Oh How He Loves You and Me is actually improved by the translation; Amazing Grace and When I Survey the Wondrous Crossdon’t fare quite as well. The Agincourt Hymn is remarkably poignant. Traditional English tunes, with their plaintive melodies and simple, open harmonies, seem to suit the cello choir more than the other songs.

Wayfaring Stranger is supported by Nashville-based Chapter & Verse Media Inc., a company whose mission, in its own words, is “to uplift the spirit of mankind by encouraging a new Renaissance in music, art, and literature.” If Wayfaring Stranger is an indication of things to come from the group, it’s well on its way to accomplishing that mission.