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Psalms, Hymns, & Spiritual Songs

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Mar
Psalms, Hymns, & Spiritual Songs
Sounds like … the worshipful and refined strains of Byron Cage, Richard Smallwood, and Ron KenolyAt a glance … though it's a bit too grandiloquent for its own good, McClurkin bows out in style with this reverent collection of church standards and originalsTrack Listing

Disc 1

Days of ElijahI Will SingI Call You FaithfulGreat and Mighty Is Our GodOnly You Are HolyAgnus DeiDraw Me Close/I Am Thine Oh Lord (Draw Me Nearer)Blood MedleyBlood SermonTotal Praise (feat. Richard Smallwood)

Disc 2

Church MedleyI Love to Praise HimI Love to Praise Him (Reprise) (feat. Dottie Peoples)Jesus MedleyJesus Medley (Reprise)Awesome GodLanguage MedleySáciame Señor/Yo Sé Que Estás Aquí (feat. Joann Rosario)Ooh Child (feat. Kirk Franklin)

On the heels of an unexpected announcement that renowned gospel vocalist Donnie McClurkin would be retiring from his music career to redirect his efforts on pastoring, ministry, and teaching at his home congregation, it is no surprise to see how liturgical his swansong for Verity turned out. In fact, the sprawling, double-disc set Psalms, Hymns, & Spiritual Songs—a title culled from Colossians 3:16—could very well be a testament to McClurkin's real passion, as this collection is as much a dynamic concert recording as it is an actual church service, complete with moments of praise and worship, prayer, and preaching.

All McClurkin wants is for us to have church with him, and he succeeds mightily, taking us through a nonstop parade of church standards ("Awesome God"), hymns ("Blood Medley"), spirituals ("Jesus Medley"), and praise-and-worship classics ("Agnus Dei," "Days of Elijah"). The arrangements are all classy and elegant, oftentimes underpinned by heavy keyboard adornments and the accompaniment of a 40-piece orchestra whose inclusion is more for dramatic effect than to complement the already larger-than-life sound.

The spirit of these Psalms is not too dissimilar from what he already accomplished with his live breakthrough Live in London and More …, although that project was still a lot more focused and contained. The most palpable limitation of this recording is McClurkin's excessive reliance on spoken-word segments and preacher-like exhortations. It seems he's taking more seriously his role as a pastor here, putting less thought into the musicality of some of these compositions, some of which are devoid of any structural sense and are more like charismatic sermons set to music.

Though these elements do allow us a glimpse of Pastor McClurkin in his element, they lack the immediacy of his previous output and, as a whole, do not possess the re-playability value of earlier material. Regardless of how you slice it, Psalm, Hymns, & Spiritual Songs is definitely more a representation of where McClurkin is heading rather than what his fans know him for.