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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

You're Worthy of My Praise

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Apr
You're Worthy of My Praise
Sounds like … a collection of mostly original guitar-driven acoustic pop/rock worship songsAt a Glance … while this album may not seem like much at first glance, it features some familiar talent and some original songs of worship that are actually memorable

Generically advertised as "12 Worship Songs of Hope," Maranatha's You're Worthy of My Praise is more than meets the eye (ear?). Primarily written and produced by Adam Watts and Andy Dodd (Jeremy Camp, Purpose-Driven Life), this is not just another collection of today's most popular worship songs performed by musicians you've never heard of. Instead most of the album is comprised of original songs of worship, performed or written, in some cases, by familiar Christian artists and worship leaders.

The most notable exception to this is the title track, a popular modern worship song by David Ruis written 12 years ago, here performed by Tammy Trent. While there is no shortage of well- known worship songs performed by popular Christian artists these days, Tammy's dance pop rendition is interesting and inspiring without dramatically altering a beloved favorite beyond recognition. Another oldie, though far less known, is Chris Tomlin's own "You Are My Treasure," which was written before his two solo albums and collaborations on the Passion recordings. Very simplistic but catchy, and not without charm, this is definitely one of Chris's earlier compositions. Some may also recognize "I Will Not Forget You," which first appeared on the popular independent acoustic album, Enter the Worship Circle, by 100 Portraits and Waterdeep. It's performed here by worship leaders Paul and Rita Baloche, with a relatively bigger pop/rock production.

Of the new tracks, "Nothing Changes You" is particularly noteworthy as a song written and performed by the increasingly reclusive Cindy Morgan. As expected from this talented songstress, Cindy has a poetic way with words of praise, enough to make me thirst for an entire album of pop worship songs from her: "So prone to wander, foolish heart/Sometimes we walk away too far/And find we're lost on some distant shore/Turn around and there You are/With Your arms open wide." Vocalist Natalie Grant does not sing on this album, but she did co-write "Arms of Praise," a pretty ballad of surrender and obedience featuring Lauren Evans on lead vocal, backed by The Saddleback Church Singers (including worship leader Rich Muchow).

Other highlights include Shirley Bunnell's "To Please You," a simply beautiful piano-based invocation to prepare people for worship. Scott Faircloff's plaintive ballad, "Move Me Again," is as good as any you'll hear out of Vineyard, and Adam Watts's own "I Will Follow" has the same kind of pop/rock drive as "Come Now Is the Time to Worship." Not to be confused with the similarly titled classic hymn, "Stand Up for Jesus" is performed by Sarah Kelly with the same rootsy pop/rock bravado as Jennifer Knapp or Jami Smith. "Come Near Me Lord" is an enjoyable guitar-driven acoustic pop/rock song sung by Phil Wickham, who sounds here a bit like Jason Wade (Lifehouse) and Jesse Valenzuela (Gin Blossoms).

You're Worthy of My Praise is also interesting in that it's a sort of a contest entry form. In the CD booklet you'll find information on how to submit a recording of yourself singing one of the songs on this album to be considered as a Maranatha! vocalist on a future recording. Beyond that, it's not a flashy worship album. The production is adequate (not top quality), and you've heard songs like these before. Yet, interestingly enough, You're Worthy of My Praise succeeds where so many of today's worship albums fall short by providing an album of mostly original worship songs suitable for group worship settings without sounding rehashed. The quality of songwriting and performances by familiar artists make this one worth checking out.