Hymns II: Shine On Us
Michael W. Whenever Michael W. Smith releases a new album I always get excited. Imagine perhaps a 12 year old on their birthday and you are not far off, from how I feel about getting a new Smitty album. :)
Michael W. First of all, one of the things i appreciate the most about Michael W. Smith is that when he releases special editions of his albums they are released at the same time as the regular album. It's left...
Decades of Worship
Michael W. A great compilation of Michael W. Smith's worship songs mostly from Worship, Worship Again, and A New Hallelujah. Plus, the Title track from Healing...
Awesome! =) | Posted March-22-2016
Whenever Michael W. Smith releases a new album I always get excited. Imagine perhaps a 12 year old on their birthday and you are not far off, from how I feel about getting a new Smitty album. :)
So in keeping with tradition, it is time once again to write another thoughtful, meaningful and slightly off-topic or rambling review of what I think, feel, and the thoughts it evokes. Or at least have done for the past almost a decade. Now I'm starting to feel old, thinking about that... Let's not dwell on that part, anymore, shall we... However, I have no decent excuse as to why Hymns II has been out for two months and I've yet to write a review! I'm like slacking on the job here...
Anyways, all that said, when I first heard this was going to be an exclusive Cracker Barrel release to follow-up Hymns, I was excited all the more. Given Michael's past with Hymns, it's no exception this is going to be awesome, too! Upon learning the title was Hymns II - Shine On Us, I was elated. I first heard Shine On Us in a church Easter program years ago. That was when I learned it was indeed a Michael W. Smith song and not, contrary to popular belief, a Phillips, Craig and Dean song. Yes. It's true. While Phillips, Craig and Dean may have done a neat rendition of Shine On Us, it still does not change the fact it was originally written by Michael and his wife Debbie Smith.
After all, what kind of album takes the title of a past song simply for a title and not have the actual song on it? That is unheard of!
Needless to say, Shine On Us is one of my favorites on Hymns II. It feels like a simple prayer and reminder of God's grace, love and protection. No matter how far we stray, or what we have done in the past, He still shines down on us. Always loving. Always ready to save us. Always there when we ask.
Even though Michael has previously recorded Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus on Worship, it is still a great reminder of how unimportant earthly things are. Plus here we get to hear the full version of the classic hymn. In fact, so many of our new songs today are based on the early hymns. Sometimes we need to take the time to reflect on what our early hymn writers intended. It's why I love this album as well as Michael's previous Hymns offering so much. We should always look to the future and the great things God has in store for us, but at the same time, never forget where we came from. Never go so far ahead that we lose sight of God's purpose, yet also never go so far back to forget His grace and mercy as to what we once were.
While Hymns brought new life to traditional hymns, Hymns II - Shine On Us captures a variety of hymns both old and new. The classic and the fresh, combined together in such a fitting way to re-tell the Gospel story. A story of love, hope, and wonder. A story of redemption and grace. A story about a loving God that watches over us, and promises us He will be our fortress. Our Refuge.
Other memorable songs on this album:
Down To The River To Pray. It is a great upbeat start to the album. It feels so much like I can actually see the choir side-stepping, dancing, and clapping all at the same time. Truly it is as if I am standing right there, in the same room, along with them. It is an awesome experience and reminder that worshiping God is about celebrating who He is, and what He is. He created us for His Divine Purpose. Rather fitting for I Need Thee on this album as well. We need Him in order to survive in this world. He gave us our very lives.
Great Is The Lord is another previously recorded song that first appeared on Project, Michael's very first solo album. A great anthem of praise and exaltation to our God. Amazing to see that three decades later Michael W. Smith is still living the life, praising the Creator of the universe.
America The Beautiful is a great way to end it all. After giving our Lord and Savior praise and honor, we are given a reminder to regard our country as well as the heroes that fought and died for it, that same honor. Interesting that Michael's second worship offering, Worship Again, ended with There She Stands. A patriotic ballad to honor our fallen heroes of September 11th, 2001. Probably unrelated as to why America The Beautiful was included, but it's a neat coincidence for both his second Worship and Hymns records to end on a patriotic note. America The Beautiful has always been a favorite song of mine because it's got my name in it. Though it's meant to describe "amber waves of grain". Still, if you were to be honest, wouldn't you get excited over a song remotely having your name in it too?
Come to think of it, this will now be the second time my name has been in a Michael W. Smith song. Yep. It's true. The other song is an exclusive track Evening Show on his Love Me Good Single. Again, my name is used to describe grain, but it still counts!
So yeah, couple months late in coming. Sorry! Though, come to think of it, kinda feels like it fits a good Easter message, so that is my excuse. I am reviewing this in time for you to consider it as background for your Easter celebrations as you take time to remember why Jesus came and died. Because His eye is on the sparrow, but also, more importantly, on you and me. Happy Easter!
great! | Posted May-20-2014
A great compilation of Michael W. Smith's worship songs mostly from Worship, Worship Again, and A New Hallelujah. Plus, the Title track from Healing Rain and Great Is The Lord from his very first album Project. Considering Agnus Dei was originally written on Go West Young Man in 1990 and re-recorded for Worship, it helps to fill in the gap of lack of music from the earlier years.
It would've been nice to have maybe Hosanna from Michael W. Smith 2 and Be Lifted High or The Stand from Stand to flesh out the Decades of Worship title a little more, since it doesn't feel much of a decades spanning overview as it would like to make you think. Still a great selection of songs on here none-the-less.
Live The Life!! | Posted May-19-2014 Live The Life has always been a favorite song of mine. While much of society doesn't like to hear the Gospel, and in fact, it's highly discouraged to discuss 'religion' in the work place. (unless you're working at a Christ-centered business) However, i find people relate to kind words and actions, and come to know GOD not because of being preached Bible verses, but simply by someone living the life, and showing them what Jesus love looks like.
Fun and amusing! | Posted May-19-2014 Love Me Good is a creative and amusing song in it's describing of the trials and reality of life and how we all need love. It's a simple request, yet also the most important thing we all need.
Evening Show is one of those exclusive songs thrown on here that you can't find anywhere else. It paints a great picture of GOD's handywork, and what our human eyes can fathom as to what heaven will be like. Plus, i even get my name in a Smitty song, even if it is just to describe the color of grain.
Amazing! | Posted May-20-2014
First of all, one of the things i appreciate the most about Michael W. Smith is that when he releases special editions of his albums they are released at the same time as the regular album. It's left up to the individual whether they want to pay a couple bucks extra for the additional content, instead of waiting 6 months, a year or even 2 years later to pay more for a repackaged cd. As an avid Smitty fan couldn't resist going for the Deluxe Edition. It's definitely worth the $5 more for the concert video.
Sovereign has a very different feel than all of Michael W. Smith's previous worship offerings. There isn't a live church choir or concert setting, and most of the songs are original, meaning they haven't previously been produced and recorded by someone else. The few that are, haven't been played to death on the radio yet, so it makes this album feel fresher and newer than his previous worship offerings.
While all of Michael's other worship projects averaged 50% original material and 50% previously recorded material, this one contains like 90% new and like only 10% already recorded. Certainly not meaning this as a bad thing, but since the other ones were going for that live church feeling, familiar worship songs were a plus. Some people simply have a hard time learning new songs, so throwing a dozen completely new songs out there to learn on the spot is a bit much. While other people have an ear for music and can pick up a new song before the chorus is over.
You Won't Let Go is one of my favorites as it's based on Romans 38-39 which i remember learning years ago in church and has been a comfort in times when i'm hurting and uncertain of what the future may hold.
I like the catchy almost tinkling bells sound that accompany Sky Spills Over. Soon as i heard the intro knew i'd like the song. The message of hope and inspiration confirms it for me. Definitely another favorite on the album.
Jeremiah 29:11 has been one of my favorite Bible verses, and even though it's not mentioned in the booklet, it's pretty clear where the inspiration for Sovereign Over Us came from. Always thought that verse would be great as a song and well, here it is.
Songs based on the love and sacrifice of Jesus never grow old, and i for see The Same Power and All Arise becoming Easter traditional songs. Songs like these are the much needed reminder that it's because of Him, we are here.
All in all, while Michael's previous worship projects are what drew me to him and his music, i will treasure this new worship offering for it's fresh sounding originality.
Great bonus content! | Posted May-18-2014
This particular video is one of those free promo ones that was included for a limited time when you bought any of Michael's other albums to celebrate his 20 years of music. It includes a couple of his popular music videos and some behind the scenes footage. A nifty treat to any Smitty fans out there.
Even though in this day of modern technology and that you can watch most all of Michael's music videos online, there's something to be said for actually owning them on a video that you don't have to rely on an internet connection to watch.
This Is Your Time is my favorite of the ones on here. I just love the message of how life is short, so you need to make the most of it.
Every year for the 4th of July, Memorial Day, or September 11, (the day for which it was inspired). I pull out There She Stands. Even though our country is far from what our forefathers intended it to be, Michael has so eloquently put to music what our flag means. Or rather used to mean.
When watching the videos with the commentary you get to hear some of the idea for the songs, why certain settings were chosen, etc. Fascinating stuff like that. For the record, no Michael wasn't standing on a roof for the recording of Cry For Love. Certainly looks that way though.
Stands the test of time | Posted May-18-2014
Ever since the release of Worship, Michael W. Smith has been considered a worship leader and with the release of Sovereign now has 4 worship projects to his credit. Aside from numerous other worshipful songs that have been recorded on his other albums, as well as worship compilations.
However i think this album truly captures the depth of his creativity, spanning the musical genre. It was indeed his Worship, and Worship Again offerings that drew me in, however, i have come to appreciate Michael W. Smith for who he is, and not just the side that the music industry leans heavily to.
Michael wasn't the first to use the iconic phrase, "Go west young man" yet, he gave it a unique Spiritual significance. Can't help but think a little about how in the Bible when GOD says how He separates us from our sin as far as the east is from the west, it's a similar analogy. Stay as far away from the old life of sin as possible. If the evil are going east, then quite simply, go west. Go west, young man. I think our modern society could benefit from listening to this song a bit more, and taking it to heart.
Love Crusade is a standout track for the sole fact that Smitty-boy can rap and keep his signature pop style at the same time, all while staying with a funky beat and down to earth message of Gospel. While rap isn't my cup of tea, this track is worth a listen.
Place In This World is by far my favorite track. It conveys so much of what i've felt over the years, not being able to find my place. Although the truth is, as Christians the world isn't our home, it's our mission field. It's hard to not feel that you want to belong here though. As it was written the same year i was born, can't help but feel drawn to it. It's kind of like it's meant to be my song.
Seed To Sow gives the Biblical truth of "you reap what you will sow" renewed meaning, all with keeping a catchy tempo. What you do today carries into the future, so make it count.
For You paints a comical picture of how even though life seems frustrating there's Someone that's always there for you. It along with Emily, another song of encouragement, round out this album nicely.
Even though How Long Will Be Too Long has a bit of the 90's feel to it, the message is still just as relevant today, maybe even more so.
Agnus Dei is a nice surprise on this album, as being a newer fan of Michael's just figured it was written for Worship. I had no idea it was written long before, and re-recorded. Just goes to show that the Lamb of GOD is forever eternal. Even more recently, Agnus Dei was included on Decades Of Worship. Truly a song that will never grow old.
While 1990 feels a bit like a last minute throw on, it leaves you with something to contemplate.
All in all, this album stands the test of time, and over 20 years later still rings true. Definitely worth the listen.
a wonderful musical experience! | Posted May-16-2014
It's because of my mom that I have a love and appreciation for traditional hymns. Music in general, really. She'd sing them to me from her hymnal while I'd sit on her lap in her rocking chair, typically at the end of the day before bedtime. Later over the years when she had a piano, and I was too big for her lap, she'd play them and sometimes I'd sing along.
This album reminds me of those fond memories growing up, and while there's many Christian musicians and singers out there, Michael W. Smith is one of the few that hold to tradition.
In a modern age of punk rock and electronic disco music, also known as dubstep, it's refreshing to hear albums like this that embrace the classic hymns in a simple and traditional way with a piano and stringed instruments. Real down-to-earth-instruments, and not computer generated synthesizers.
Overall, this album carries a bit of a country backwoodsy twang, and while Michael hasn't any specific country albums, he has a good voice for it. He is a West Virginia country boy after all.
Though Michael has already recorded a modern pop/worship version of The Wonderful Cross, on Worship Again I like that he included it here in the traditional rendition. These days it's always rendered with the shortened name and extra chorus written in by Chris Tomlin. It adds to the song and while shorter song titles can be a plus, sometimes it's good to go back to our Christian roots.
Another of my favorite tracks is Victory In Jesus. It's because of His love and sacrifice that we're here. The whole essence of the Christian faith is in that song, and the fact that GOD loved us to let his only Son die, just so we wouldn't have to live in eternal separation even though it's what we deserve. It's up to us to spread that message of hope and love, and I like how the song has a sort of hoe-down feeling like when celebrating an old-fashioned barnraising. Communities used to be tightly knit so when a need arose, or there was an event to celebrate, people came from miles around. Fits the idea of Jesus' love to a 't'.
It's quite fitting that it was released in time for Easter as every song proclaims GOD's perfect love, sacrifice, and devotion. He is always there, and always will be.
Here's hoping Smitty keeps with tradition and does a Hymns Again or rather Hymns II, to stay with the theme.
When i was younger i remember reading the condensed yellow hardcover A Life Of Faith Elsie Dinsmore series. It was one of my favorites growing up, and just recently my mom was pretty cool to get me the entire original unabriged series in this great pink hardcover set, as a belated Christmas present. :D
I admire the character Elsie has and her great desire to do what is pleasing to her Lord and Saviour above what all others say to do. At times Elsie is wronged unjustly, and is made to suffer alone for her faith in GOD, but in the end, her honesty and kindness always win out.
Elsie is a quiet and emotional kind of girl, much like myself. Part of it comes from her age, but part of it, is also brought on by the severity and coldness of her father which she yearns so desperately to be loved by. I can honestly relate to that, and hope that my father too, will come around to freely expressing his love for me as well. Of course much of that love can only come from first accepting it from the ultimate source of love, Jesus Christ.
I've read quite a few reviews from others, and a good many of them fault Elsie for her constant crying and emotionalness, but honestly, even at 21, i'm still an emotional wreck at times. Although if you notice, her crying episodes become less frequent, with the more love, tenderness, and affection that she receives from her father.
Every human alive has a deep desire to be loved, and if it's not fulfilled, they do whatever possible to get attention, in hopes of receiving it. Simple as that. ;)
Love doesn't cost anything, yet it is the hardest thing to give away.
Healing Rain came out about the time i discovered Michael W. Smith, plus it was also given to me by a dear friend who only a couple years later died of cancer. She'd loved the song Healing Rain, but GOD's rain hadn't healed her like we'd all prayed and hoped. Her passing was saddening, however, that following week both her daughter, and granddaughter decided to be baptized and make that outward commitment of faith, so her death had a purpose. I think of her fondly when listening to this album..
Originally the song Healing Rain was going to be called Healing Train, with the idea of a train going around delivering aid and medical supplies etc, to people in need, and you can still hear a little of that aspect throughout the song. It was changed however, to depict a Divine source of healing that only GOD can bring. That slight change is what makes this album even better.
My favorite song on this album is definitely Here I Am, and it was the first song i ever heard that truly inspired me to live out my faith, and boldly proclaim His Word. I've never been the same since hearing it.
Some of my other favorite include, the title track Healing Rain, Live Forever, Can't Wait Any Longer, and Bridge Over Troubled Water. :D
Even though i already had the original version of Healing Rain, i couldn't resist adding the Dual Disc edition for all the bonus content.. ;)