The Gathering Church, nestled in the neo-urban renaissance happening in Durham, NC has just released a wonderful collection of songs from the hymnal americana. From the laconic rural landscape of Iowa’s “The Church in the Wildwood” to the gospel singing preacher Reverend Ford Washington McGee’s “Fifty miles of elbow room” the tunes on “Hymns from the Gathering Church” wax eloquent along the blurry lines between traditional folk and the sacred folk music of the church.
The CD is a barn raising effort for Jeff Crawford, the church’s chief musician. Along with a host of stellar musicians from the church itself, contributions from a cross section of Triangle bands lends both a fantastic diversity and a local authenticity to the whole..not to mention the guaranteed listen from a much broader audience then the typical church CD sees. Notable contributions from Phil Cook (Megafaun), Heather McEntire (Mt. Moriah), and Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz (Mandolin Orange) all got me really excited to hear how they would respin and weave such well known traditional hymns like Leaning on the Everlasting Arms and What Wondrous Love is This.
This is a well chosen and curated bunch of traditional hymns and reminds us how great songs can be endlessly reinterpreted. Each generation takes the classics and breathes new life. I’m looking forward not only to listening more but also to singing many of these on Sunday mornings at my church.