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Great Light of the World: The Best of Bebo Norman

  • reviewed by Christa Banister Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 Oct
Great Light of the World: The Best of Bebo Norman
Sounds like … highlights of Bebo Norman's catalog, from early folk/pop reminiscent of James Taylor or Chris Rice to the more produced pop of Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman.At a glance … with a few glaring omissions and an oddly abbreviated track listing, this collection only works well as a general overview of Bebo Norman's career so far.Track Listing I Will Lift My Eyes
Nothing Without You
Great Light of the World
Holy Is Your Name
Falling Down
Into the Day
The Hammer Holds
Tip of My Heart
Sometimes By Step

It's becoming far too common now for artists to fulfill their contractual obligations before switching record labels by releasing a premature best-of album. Unlike most others, however, it actually doesn't seem too soon for Bebo Norman, who recently transitioned from Essential Records to BEC Recordings. After all, he made his major label debut back in 1999 with Ten Thousand Days and released four more albums since then. Though he hasn't scored a ton of radio hits, there's still a wealth of material for cherry picking Norman's finest from.

So why is it Great Light of the World: The Best of Bebo Norman only scratches the surface of his impressive catalog with such a skimpy, 10-song track list? Moreover, two of the selections are radio singles that come from compilation projects: "Holy Is Your Name," a collaboration with Cliff and Danielle Young of Caedmon's Call from City on a Hill: Sing Alleluia, and a cover of Rich Mullins' "Sometimes By Step" from WoW Worship [Aqua]. There's only eight songs worth mentioning from Norman's acclaimed five-album catalog? Crazy.

This disc certainly doesn't represent all the radio singles, with notable omissions like "I Am" and "Cover Me" from Big Blue Sky, and "Disappear" from Try—not to mention "Yes I Will," a duet with Joy Williams from The Christ: His Passion. And because there's plenty of unused space on this disc, why not include fan favorites like "The Man Inside" and the wedding favorite "A Page Is Turned" from Ten Thousand Days, or "Our Mystery" from Myself When I Am Real? There's little incentive for fans here: no new songs, live tracks, alternate recordings, or even a comprehensive collection.

Still, even with those significant missteps, it's difficult to get upset with strong material like the soaring worship of the title track, the genius poetic expression of Christ's sacrifice in "The Hammer Holds," and Norman's successful foray into polished pop with "I Will Lift My Eyes." The essentials are at least present, all great stuff. But with the switch to BEC, it's a shame Essential couldn't offer something that better summarizes his first eight years. We can only hope that Norman will someday be honored with the comprehensive project he deserves.

© Christa Banister, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.