|Page CXVI [re:hymns] | Posted June 02, 2012
After recording four Hymns albums, one-of-a-kind trio Page CXVI is releasing a remix record, re:hymns, taking fan favorites and recreating their already unique spin on hymns into fun, new artistic expressions. Page CXVI presents a new way to understand the role of hymns for the modern listener. The album is remixed by singer-songwriter Derek Webb. The band is also currently working on an album of lullaby hymns, set for release this coming autumn. After forming the group, The Autumn Film, band members Reid and Latifah Phillips and Dann Stockton were leading worship at churches and could not deny the strong beckoning of the hymns. They decided to develop a parallel band; the same people but a new purpose of making hymns accessible again under the new name, Page CXVI. The somewhat cryptic name was intentional. It’s drawn from the page number (116) in a particular copy of The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis, the brilliant passage where Aslan begins to sing Narnia into creation out of a black void.
With that context and having been captivated by the video of Latifah singing “Joy” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Z7Mjc78LdU, I’ve been savoring the original four hymns albums, each featuring the biblically complete number of seven creative, worshipful and engaging hymns to fully savor the new expressions found on re:hymns. I grew up with eighties electronic music, and the opener “Doxology” has a wonderful drum track layered over the piano based melody for the Church as Tifah’s compelling vocals and Derek’s musical arrangement completely mesmerize me and I love belting out the prayerful lyrics: “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow, Praise Him you creatures here below…Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen!!” “Be Still My Soul” seems like it was made for a remix album and I’ve also been enjoying Leigh Nash’s recent recording of the song. This is my favorite remix on the album as the musical intro and comforting message of the song are married into an artful expression of the prayerful yearnings of my heart, especially as Tifah’s “be still my soul” chorus is repeated into the last line, “and Praise Him.” “Joy” is a gorgeous and complex truth originally expressed in 2009, as Latifah sat down at her piano and tried to cope with her father’s passing from cancer, and she sorrowfully sang the children’s chorus, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart,” which perplexes listeners who only know it as a happy refrain. She then added the original lyrics “And I can’t understand, And I can’t pretend, that this will be alright in the end, so I’ll try my best, and lift up my chest, to sing about this…joy, joy, joy.” Finally she added the familiar refrain to “It Is Well” which was also written by Horatio Spafford out of the trial of losing his daughters to drowning. God uses trials in our lives to draw us closer to Him, and every version of “Joy” including this new remix causes me to praise the Lord.
“In The Sweet By and By” and “Holy Holy Holy” are refreshing upbeat musical arrangements and “Rock of Ages” slows the tempo back down. Every song perfectly highlights Latifah’s amazing vocals especially at the end of “Rock of Ages” where her vocals rise up a level as she gorgeously sings “wash me, wash me, Savior, or I die,” leading into last reflective chorus, “…let me hide myself in Thee, wash me Savior, or I die.” That profound Truth leads perfectly into my other favorite track, “Wash Me Clean” which opens with “Wash me clean in the warm sun dry me, cleanse my heart from all iniquity, baptize me in the Holy Spirit sea, renew my mind, That wickedness may flee.” The song is a brand new modern hymn written in 2010 by David Wilton and the sentiment and musical arrangement of the song has captured me and leads me to pray and sing these profound words along with Tifah at the top of my lungs.
Let me just say that I’ve been blessed beyond what I could imagine and not only do I highly recommend this great new remix collection, but I also can’t get enough of all twenty-eight original hymns from Hymns I-IV along with re:hymns by Page CXVI. Where the original hymns albums have a more organic, raw and certainly indie sound, this remix collection has provided yet another entirely new, sometimes electronic and exciting way to dig into the biblical truths of these timeless songs. Listening, singing and praying along with all seven tracks in order is for me a profound and unique worship experience that lead me into unashamed worship of my King and Savior, Jesus. This is an anointed album for the church.
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