Many of us churchgoers have memories of singing classic hymns in church with our parents or grandparents. These timeless tunes--many composed in the last two centuries--have left their mark on our minds and hearts.
Christian musicians are no different, and many have been inspired enough to release their own renditions of the classics. Selah and Michael W. Smith can take a bow. Others have added snippets of the lyrics to their own music, like MercyMe. A few have also released their own tweaked versions; think Chris Tomlin's "Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)."
Us rock heads who appreciate a few riffs in our music would like a few hard rock hymns to bob our heads to, but finding heavy versions of yesterday's classic hymns can be a little difficult. We've got your back: here are seven lucky rock hymns for your listening pleasure.
1. "Fountain" by Wolves at the Gate
Up and coming metalcore act Wolves at the Gate reworked this classic to give it a darker feeling. The song's sound is similar to metalcore band Disturbed's rendition of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence." "Fountain" is a cleverly crafted rendition of William Cowper's 1771 hymn "There is a Fountain Filled with Blood." The darker melody reminds us how much our redemption cost Christ and that we shouldn't take it for granted. "Fountain" proves that Wolves at the Gate are here to stay.
2. "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" by Matty Mullins Matty Mullins, the lead singer of the metalcore band Memphis May Fire, has crossed over to worshipful Christian pop with his recently released sophomore solo album Unstoppable. On the side, Mullins also released an acoustic version of "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," which he recorded with his father (a pastor) and his brother. Joseph M. Scriven originally penned the lyrics in 1855 as a poem to comfort his mother, who was living abroad. Charles Crozat Converse composed the hymn's music in 1868. Mullins' voice gives the hymn a rock flavour.
3. "Christ the Lord Has Risen Today" by Union of Sinners and Saints The Union of Sinners and Saints, a supergroup comprised of Whiteheart and Petra musicians, injected some extra fuel into "Christ the Lord Has Risen Today." The band flawlessly used raging guitar riffs and soaring vocals to create the perfect rock hymn. "Christ the Lord Has Risen Today" is a classic Easter tune, composed in 1739 by hymn writer Charles Wesley.
4. "The Name" by Disciple Disciple's lead vocalist Kevin Young has said he had been waiting for years to create a song like "The Name," which features on their 2014 album Attack. The song showcases a myriad of compositions and lyrics, including verses from Louisa M. R. Stead's 1882 hymn "'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus." Amy Grant, Tenth Avenue North and other notable names have covered the hymn as well, but for "The Name" Disciple set themselves apart by composing a new chorus.
5. "It is Well" by Kutless
In 2009, Kutless released their second worship album It is Well. The album is named after the classic hymn "It is Well with My Soul." A rock version of the hymn is included on the album. Hymnist Horatio Spafford wrote the lyrics and Philip Bliss composed the music. Spafford was a lawyer in Chicago who endured incredible personal tragedy but responded by writing these timeless lyrics.
6. "Nothing But the Blood" by Seventh Day Slumber Seventh Day Slumber is renowned for adding rock flavor to contemporary worship songs. On their 2009 album Take Everything, the band added "Nothing But the Blood" to its cover song catalogue. The hymn, published in 1876 by hymnist Robert Lowry, is based on Hebrews 9:22 and 1 John 1:7: "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."
7. "Morning Has Broken" by Third Day Third Day brings a Southern Rock flair to "Morning Has Broken," a hymn from the 2012 album Miracle. Third Day isn't the first band to give the hymn the rock treatment: legendary folk rock singer Cat Stevens included a quality version on his 1971 album Teaser and the Firecat. "Morning Has Broken," first published in 1931, is set to Bunessan, a traditional Scottish Gaelic song. English author Eleanor Farjeon wrote the lyrics.
Phill Feltham is a Canadian journalist with over eight years of experience writing and editing content for print and digital media. He specializes in health, fitness, nutrition, travel, and the power grid. He loves music, movies, and, of course, living for Jesus. Highlights of Phill's work can be found on his portfolio site PhillFeltham.com and his official blog, The Weekly Wanderer. Phill lives out his faith with his wife, Jodi, in the Greater Toronto Area.
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