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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

You Are My World

  • reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2001 1 Jan
You Are My World
Sounds like … modern contemporary pop sounding praise and worship, highlighted by the refreshing vocals of Darlene Zschech, Reuben Morgan, and Russell FragarAt a Glance … The Hillsong Music Australia series continues its tradition of acoustic based, percussion heavy, praise and worship arrangements set to the enthusiasm of a live audience.

Anyone who's ever been to church or followed praise and worship music over the last several years is undoubtedly familiar with the anthem "Shout to the Lord." That track, which has become an international praise staple at churches of various denominations, was first sung by the world-renown Hillsong worship leader Darlene Zschech (pronounced "Check"). Hillsong Music Australia has an even deeper history than just the one woman the world has grown to love. The movement actually rose from Hillsong Church, pastored by Brian and Bobbie Houston.

The church has steadily grown throughout Sydney, reaching an unprecedented 10,000 members at the beginning of this year. It's the worship stylings of leaders such as Zschech, as well as Reuben Morgan, Russell Fragar, and Marty Sampson, that have attracted countless visitors, many of whom joined the church and continue to support their music ministry. For those who don't reside in Australia, Hillsong music was first made available in the mid-'90s, when Integrity Music began to release audio recordings of various worship services. Their latest release, You Are My World, features songs penned and sung by the aforementioned artists, and also showcases the church's talented musicians.

This project is immediately inviting, as all projects in the series are, thanks to the enthusiasm of the live crowd and the contemporary sound blasted out by the gigantic band. "Your Love Is Beautiful" is boisterous praise at its best, rivaling some of the series's on-your-feet jams, including "Hear Our Praises," "My Redeemer Lives," and "All Things Are Possible." It's impossible not to pay attention to the track, given the fact that 14 different percussionists and drummers pound away on their instruments. "God Is Great" continues with the powerfully polished acoustic pop sounds set to the beat of 10,000 clapping churchgoers.

The joyful, upbeat openings quickly move to a tamer, but still a richly arranged mild pop pace. "All of My Days" earns its title from the classic line in "Shout to the Lord," although the song is much less dramatic. A calming acoustic guitar and gentle keyboards are placed over a chorus of singers proclaiming: "And my eyes they look unto you always/ And I am captured by your majesty/ All of my days I must sing of your praise/ All of my days I must speak of your grace/ All of my days I will tell of your wondrous love/ Your love in my life."

Like "All of My Days," "Emmanuel" and "You Stand Alone" also keep a meditative tone. "You Stand Alone" is the most touching of the three, consisting of a simple piano with some subtle strings and an occasional guitar strum. Fans of the series will note the song maintains the spirit of past gems including "What the Lord Has Done to Me" and "I Will Run to You." "Worthy of the Lamb" and "Forever" make a great tag team during the second half of the disc, creating a similar gentle worshipful mood, while perhaps gaining some musical influence from the Passion series.

The album closes with as much "Joy in the Holy Ghost" as it began. The finale, "My Best Friend," showcases the group's spunk with a whole host of praise leaders taking the stage as a choir. I'd say this track has the most edge of any song on the disc, as the band plugs in and truly rocks out through the final cymbal slam. As the music fades, along with the cheers of the crowd, it's hard not to smile and feel a calming peace in your heart.

The project has its share of musical variety and a regular rotation of lead vocalists to keep each song interesting. It's even more appealing of a project given the fact that the disc clocks in at over an hour and ten minutes, which I feel makes it even more worth your money. Although it's hard to find a song on the album that has the same spine-tingling effect as "Shout to the Lord," it's nice to have a brand new batch of tunes from the Hillsong series that continue in the same spirit.