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Hymns of Faith ... Songs of Inspiration

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 1 Sep
Hymns of Faith ... Songs of Inspiration
Sounds like … the Sandi Patty you know and love, backing her superb soprano with a sweeping orchestraAt a glance … between the album's focus on favorite hymns (old and new) and the first-rate production, this is an album sure to wow Patty's fansTrack ListingDisc OneCrown Him with Many Crowns—All Hail the PowerHis Eye Is on the SparrowWe Shall Behold HimIt Is Well with My SoulMy Jesus I Love Thee—When I Survey the Wondrous CrossA Might Fortress Is Our GodNear to the Heart of God—Sweet Hour of PrayerNo One Ever Cared for Me Like JesusGod Bless AmericaAmerica The BeautifulThe Star Spangled BannerDisc TwoShout to the LordHoly GroundGreat Is Thy FaithfulnessBlessed AssuranceThe PrayerAmazing GraceHow Great Thou ArtThe Old Rugged CrossPrecious Memories—In the Garden—Just a Closer WalkSoftly and Tenderly—I Surrender AllFairest Lord Jesus

For Sandi Patty, it's been twenty-five years of acclaim and accolades as a premier pop soprano—not just in Christian music, but for American audiences overall. With the 100-minute double-disc collection Hymns of Faith … Songs of Inspiration, Patty revisits her churchgoing musical heritage, and in a sense, it feels like a greatest hits collection for her.

The album title indicates the focus of its 22 tracks, although what's not immediately apparent is the stylistic diversity. The first disc is beautifully orchestrated, featuring the City of Prague Philharmonic, with hymn arrangements conducted by producer and keyboardist David Hamilton. The results yield sweeping renditions of the church's most majestic hymns and the grandeur extends to a selection of patriotic favorites, including a new larger than life version of "The Star Spangled Banner." It's like listening to Patty sing with the Boston Pops for the President at the Crystal Cathedral.

The second disc is much more varied. A rhythm section is added for pop worship like "Shout to the Lord" and "Holy Ground." Patty also offers a soulful gospel rendition of "Blessed Assurance," a stirring a cappella performance of "Fairest Lord Jesus," a medley that acknowledges her Southern gospel roots, and a stunning duet with her husband on "The Prayer" worthy of Sarah Brightman and Josh Groban.

Though Hymns is handled predictably, it lacks nothing other than originality. Patty displays versatility with her pure soprano and the gamut of instrumentation. She's given concerts like this, but never a studio album of this scale. It's what Sandi Patty is, it's a first-rate recording, it's exactly what her fans want, and it's bound to become a classic as a result. All things considered, it's pretty hard to be critical of anything here.