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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Hands Lifted High

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 1 Mar
Hands Lifted High
Sounds like … Jernigan's Don Moen-styled worship gets a contemporary facelift, featuring the vocal talents of Christian artists like Watermark, Jeff Deyo, Rebecca St. James, Natalie Grant, and 2nd Chapter of ActsAt a glance … finally, an album that does Dennis Jernigan's music justice without dated-sounding pop arrangements and productionTrack ListingYou Are My All in All (w/ Natalie Grant)I Stand Amazed (w/ Travis Cottrell)When the Night Is Falling (w/ Matthew Ward & Annie Herring)God Almighty (w/ Jeff Deyo)I Bless You (w/ Watermark)Faithful and True (w/ Annie Herring)Great Is the Lord Almighty (w/ Charlie Hall)On My Knees (w/ Twila Paris)Thank You (w/ Ron Kenoly)Who Can Satisfy My Soul (w/ First Call)I Belong to Jesus (w/ Alvin Slaughter)Faithful Friend (w/ Rebecca St. James)We Will Worship the Lamb of Glory (w/ Russ Taff & Charmaine)Let Freedom Ring

One of the most esteemed worship writers of the last 20 years, Dennis Jernigan has written more than 2,200 songs and sold more than a million albums. Yet he's not a household name like Darlene Zschech or Matt Redman. Record labels—Doxology being the latest for the worship leader—are trying to change that. I've lost count, but Hands Lifted High is at least the third quasi-greatest hits album of Jernigan's work in the last four years. It also happens to be his best.

A major weakness of previous Jernigan albums is dated arrangements, relying too heavily on cheesy keyboards and corny pop production. Thanks to producer Kent Hooper (David, Scott Krippayne), Hands Lifted High firmly contemporizes ten of Jernigan's best-loved songs into accessible AC worship. On top of that, this is sort of a tribute celebration, similar to Charlie Peacock's recent Full Circle project in that it pairs Jernigan with a variety of popular Christian artists, past and present. It's especially poignant that he sings with 2nd Chapter of Acts, since one of their concerts turned his spiritual life around years ago. "You Are My All in All," sung with Natalie Grant, is given an enjoyable acoustic pop treatment, and the energetic rendition of "Great Is the Lord Almighty" with Charlie Hall gives the song more modern worship credibility.

Hands Lifted High also features four new songs, including "Faithful Friend," a programmed pop duet with Rebecca St. James, who gives one of her finest pop vocal performances in years. "Let Freedom Ring" was selected as the 2004 National Day of Prayer theme song; combining faith with patriotism, it's beautifully orchestrated and quite moving. At last, here's an album that does Jernigan's considerable musical talents justice.