Holy City Hymns and Peters Branch

July 2, 2013

One of the great trends of the past few years has been the efforts of people like Indelible Grace, Sojourn and others, to take old hymn texts and set them to new melodies for the church today. Many churches are also discovering and singing some of the great liturgical texts of the past as well as writing new ones for their worship services. The result is some great new music married to some solid doctrinal texts that strengthen the church’s worship. On a personal note, I’m a big fan of Americana musical styles and it doesn’t hurt that a great deal of this new music falls into that genre! Two resources I have recently come across are from Holy City Hymns and Peters Branch.

Peters BranchPeters Branch describes themselves as “a liturgical music ministry based at New Grace Church on Fleming Island, Florida. It exists to glorify God by giving new musical expression to the hymns and prayers of the Church.” Their new collection called “Songs of the Church” takes some beautiful texts from sources like St.Ioannikios, John Henry Newman, the Benedictines, and sets them to some memorable and easily sung tunes.The openning song “Invocation of the Light” is one of the best things I’ve heard lately. It’s a short but strong calling on God to reveal Himself to us.  There isn’t one of these that I couldn’t picture doing in our own fellowship. You can get the all six songs for five bucks via bandcamp and the chord charts are available for free at their website

notaword

Holy City Hymns provides this bio on their site: “Holy City Hymns was founded in 2012 by a group of worship leaders in the Charleston area. They each sought to be a part of a community that shared resources and creative energy to advance the musical worship in each of their churches and for the Church at large”

A great vision and model for churches everywhere! They have released two collections so far, a collection of songs for the advent season of 2012 and then the one mentioned here “Not A Word” that was released as a Lenten project. They work mainly from old and familiar hymn texts, relying a good bit on original melodies but adding the kinds of musical nuances that create a fresh feel for the songs. One new song in the group, Jesus, Lamb of God by Jonathan Lowder is a powerful song of repentance before the crucified Christ. “I murdered you God, and you set me free,” says the last verse, and it drives you to your knees. The collection’s name, “Not A Word,” shows up in the hymn “Were You There.” It’s a devastating refrain that highlights the agony of the cross and the submission of the Lamb of God in a profound way.  As with Peters Branch, the chord charts for all the songs are available freely and the music can be downloaded from bandcamp.