The Writer's Collection
- reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2008 1 Oct
- Open the Eyes of My Heart
- Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)
- Because of Your Love
- What Can I Do
- Above All
- Rock of Ages You Will Stand
- Your Name
- Praise Adonai
- All the Earth Will Sing Your Praises
- Hallelujah to My King
- Our God Saves
- I Will Boast
- You Gave Your Life Away
There was a time early in the decade when Paul Baloche was the most-sung worship songwriter in the land. His signature song, "Open the Eyes of My Heart," was the No. 1 worship chorus in churches across America, but the song did more than that. By unseating perennial chart-topper "Lord I Lift Your Name on High" from the summit of the CCLI chart, it heralded a new generation of modern worship anthems.
Other songs from the Baloche pen haven't had quite the same historical significance, but they've been no less effective in extending the canon of contemporary worship in the church. This prolific legacy is documented for the first time in The Writer's Collection, a best-of anthology of sorts that traces the worship leader's most memorable songs over the years.
Since the Baloche catalog is extensive, it's difficult to be entirely inclusive, especially with just one disc's worth of space. The Writer's Collection gets it mostly right, mostly emphasizing the songwriter's latter-day albums recorded with Integrity Music. Nearly all the essentials from early in his career are here, including a new version of "Open the Eyes," the Lenny LeBlanc co-write "Above All" (popularized by Michael W. Smith), the Easter favorite "All the Earth Will Sing Your Praises," and the knockout ballad "Offering."
By contrast, a whopping nine songs come from Baloche's albums A Greater Song and Our God Saves—that's five and four songs apiece, respectively, all released in the last two years. The decision is somewhat justified, since Baloche appeared to have finally captured the rocking spirit of modern worship with those two live efforts; everything else that predated them had a more inspirational, easy-listening vibe.
Perhaps that's the reason his first four albums are, for the most part, given the cold shoulder. First Love and God of Wonders, in particular, are ignored entirely. Those omissions notwithstanding, The Writer's Collection is a very good introduction to the life and times of Baloche, one of the most unsung and sung worship leaders of the new millennium.