Love Divine – The Hymns of Charles Wesley, Updated (and win a free copy)

I think it was about 6 weeks ago that I received a copy of the CD, “Love Divine:The Songs of Charles Wesley for Today’s Generation,” which came out April 19. It’s a collection of Charles Wesley (1707-1788) hymns that have been set to music by John Hartley and Chris Eaton.

There are a lot of hymns albums being made these days. In fact, I’m working on a post now that highlights some of the ministries and individuals who are participating in rearranging, rewriting, or composing hymns. Very exciting to see more people realizing that the songs we use for praising God can’t be restricted to ones that are driven more by melody and beat than lyrical impact and depth.

But not all hymns albums are the same. Some are simply reworkings of well-known hymns that may or may not be worth recording one more time. Love Divine is not one of those albums.

A couple weeks later after I received it I was listening to the album in my car. This is what I was pleased to discover then and through repeated listenings:

  • Almost all the melodies (all of them new) seemed fresh, well crafted, and designed for congregational singing.
  • The songs seemed to be chosen for lyrical content rather than simply familiarity, which is not always the norm for hymns albums.
  • The production is centered in the modern rock genre, but has enough variety to make things interesting. In other words, it wasn’t dominated by wall-to-wall guitars.
  • For the most part the new melodies, additional choruses, and musical settings complemented the original lyrics.
  • While the vocalists are artists in their own right (Tim Hughes, Jason Roy, Leigh Nash, Aaron Keyes, Brenton Brown, and others), they keep the creative vocal licks to a minimum making it easier to adapt these hymns for congregations.
  • The gospel is all over this album, but the songs cover a wide variety of topics including the resurrection, Christ’s reign, Christ’s love for his people, prayer for sanctification, the return of Christ, Christ’s presence as we gather, God’s sovereignty, passion for Christ, and more.

If you know anything about Wesley, you know he was prolific, writing between 6000 and 8500 hymns, depending on your source. As you might guess, every one wasn’t a classic. But more than a few were. And John Hartley and Chris Eaton have done a masterful job introducing some of them to a new generation through new melodies, some new choruses, fresh arrangements and tasteful production.

A few of my favorites:

And Can it Be – I’ve never liked the common tune of this hymn, although it’s grown on me since we taught it at my home church. But it’s always sounded like a vocal exercise to me. I rewrote a version for GLAD years ago, but this version on Love Divine is simply stellar – singable, memorable melody that could be adapted to a number of musical styles.
Come,Thou Long Expected Jesus – Joyful, uptempo setting of a great hymn, with a new chorus.
Praise the Lord, Who Reigns Above – Another eminently singable melody in 6/8 with a fresh chorus.
Jesus, the Name High Over All – Oh, that we had more songs like this one, that extol the priceless worth of the name of Jesus. One of my favorite melodies on the album.
Love Divine – Hard to rewrite a classic, but Chris and John have given this hymn a more reflective, plaintive setting that accents our awareness of how far we fall short of God’s desire for our holiness.
Oh For a Heart to Praise My God – A simple song of consecration, asking God to do the work in our hearts only he can do.

Here’s a complete track listing:

•  I Know That My Redeemer Lives – Tim Hughes
•  Rejoice! The Lord Is King – John Ellis
•  And Can It Be – Jason Roy
•  Jesus, We Look to Thee – Kim Walker-Smith
•  Jesus, Lover of My Soul – Chris Eaton
•  Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus – Brian Johnson
•  Praise the Lord Who Reigns Above – Leigh Nash
•  Jesus, the Name High over All – Chris Quilala
•  O for a Thousand Tongues To Sing – Chris McClarney
•  Love Divine – Jenn Johnson
•  Christ the Lord Is Risen Today – Aaron Keyes
•  Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies – Mark Roach
•  Oh, For A Heart to Praise My God – Brenton Brown

Free Stuff and Ordering Info

You can get a free download of the MP3 and charts for I Know That My Redeemer Lives at this link. You’ll also be able to see some videos on the project, listen to some samples, and download the album.

You can purchase it from iTunes here, Amazon here, and download a pdf of all the charts for $10.99 here. Individual charts in every key are available for download here.

Oh, and Kingsway has generously given me 5 copies of Love Divine to give away. All you have to do is leave a comment on my blog by midnight, Thursday night. Tell me who one of your favorite hymn writers is. I’ll pick 5 winners at random and announce them on Friday morning.

And may God give us many more albums like this in the days to come filled with lyrically rich, biblically faithful hymns set to contemporary with melodies written to last beyond our lifetime.

 

 

212 Responses to Love Divine – The Hymns of Charles Wesley, Updated (and win a free copy)

  1. Kirsten July 8, 2011 at 3:27 AM #

    Favorites are hard to pick… but you just asked for “one of,” so here you are:

    Charitie Bancroft wrote my favorite hymn, “Before the Throne of God Above,” incidentally also set to new music. Awesome text, and it just goes to show how a forgotten hymn can be revived through new music.

    By the way, thanks for your blog. As a Bible college music major hoping to lead worship vocationally some day, I always appreciate your insights, as they give me great food for thought. I’ve used your posts as resources many a time, and I know that I can always come here and find practical suggestions in answer to questions.

  2. Dustin Rouse July 8, 2011 at 3:46 AM #

    Isaac Watts

  3. Justin Harig July 8, 2011 at 4:14 AM #

    It is a three way tie right now for who my favorite hymn writer is. Isaac Watts, John Newton and Anne Steele. But there are so many it’s probably more than a three way tie but I’ll leave it at that for this outlet and purpose.

  4. Wagner Floriani July 8, 2011 at 4:58 AM #

    I love the Wesley hymns for their memorable and rich truths that are conveyed so clearly! Isaac Watts and John Newton are close seconds :) it’s hard to pick 1 favorite

  5. Vanessa July 11, 2011 at 12:33 PM #

    I like Isaac Watts! :)

  6. Sherree August 18, 2011 at 3:22 AM #

    I love hymns period. Not enough of them being sung in churches today. I am interested in hearing the rewrites of old songs, but I have to say that not all the rewrites I hear do I like. Some of the newer stuff just doesn’t fit the words. Hymnbooks had a variety of types of music in them. Music today all sounds so much the same and puts too much emphasis on the MUSIC…and not the words. Would be nice to hear the piano playing all four parts AND hearing the words without all the “extras”.

  7. Nancy October 30, 2011 at 5:32 PM #

    So great to hear about this refreshing new arrangements of one of the greatest hymn writers. Of course I am partial because I am a United Methodist. I have been to Charles Wesley’s house in England. He is one of the great ones, but I too love hymns and as many of you have stated they just aren’t sung with fervor as they used to be. Besides Wesley, Fanny Crosby would probably be my second choice.

  8. organo gold June 25, 2013 at 2:43 AM #

    I got it from iTunes all songs are nice but my favorite is Love Divine by jenn Johnson..

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Love Divine – The Hymns of Charles Wesley | Cardiphonia - July 6, 2011

    [...] thankful for Bob Kauflin’s post over at Worship Matters reminding me of this great album that was released this spring from the UK [...]

  2. Combing the Net – 7/6/2011 « Honey and Locusts - July 6, 2011

    [...] Love Divine — Bob Kauflin points out a new album that sets hymn texts of Charles Wesley to new music. It looks great! I’ll be getting a copy for sure. Kauflin is giving away a few copies as well. [...]

  3. Cafe hopping (7/8) | Counterpoint Cafe - July 8, 2011

    [...] Charles Wesley Modern Hymns: A group of musicians have put out Love Divine, a collection of modern takes on Charles Wesley hymns. You can sample it online. Bob Kauflin also has a helpful review. [...]

  4. TUESDAY REVIEW: LOVE DIVINE « toddwright - August 2, 2011

    [...] really liked Bob’s review, which you can read here, and I’ll try not to copy all the same stuff he said! Let’s take it [...]

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