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Lou Fellingham – Lean on the Everlasting Arms CD

Freedom Music

Price £12 also available on online platforms

I really like this album. Compared to some hymn selections than can be rather overblown this has a nice discreet, laidback style.

Nathan Fellingham says: “Having live streamed over 60 30-minute sung worship sessions, just the two of us and a piano, we thought it would be nice to actually create an album in the same style. Using hymns exclusively gave the album another specific focus, and also fitted well with the fact that we have reworked several hymns ourselves.”

It was good to see that even Fellingham favourites like, Lean Hard andTo God be the Glory are given a different take. The version of O for a thousand Tongues seems at first to be an extreme makeover but its additions, arrangement, tune and capture well the lingering wonder of salvation that the hymn so memorably celebrates.

The stand-out song song for me is undoubtedly God Immortal. It is an original song from the 2008 album: Promised Land; yet it fits in nicely with the old favourites. I am sure it will be popular.

I asked Nathan whether this project has caused a rethink about what might constitute a healthy diet of songs in weekly worship services?

“We’ve always prioritised including songs in the weekly set list which consider in depth the great themes of the Christian faith – and many hymns do seem to cover a broader range of subjects than many modern songs. But something that Matt Redman used to say was how important it is to breathe in and out in worship. Hymns give a chance to breathe in – to allow the truths of the gospel to fill our heads and hearts. But it’s also important to breathe out – to exhale. Sometimes it’s the simple songs that are best to allow us to do that!”

I agree this album has given some of these timeless classics room to breathe; it is like flicking through some, sensitively colourised old black and white photographs of familiar family members. Instantly recognisable yet different.

People used to the boom, boom, boom phrasing of the hymns will need to adjust to Lou’s softening of the phrases, but when doing so will be helped to linger over phrases often rushed over. It was also good to hear the Nathan doing harmonies and getting a solo verse to sing. Hymns are often great vehicles for male voices, so this feature is very welcome.

I asked Nathan how the album should be used: “Listen, sing along, and believe for the goodness of Christ to dwell in you richly as you do! Oh yeah, and tell your friends!”

John Woods is a writer and Bible teacher based in West Sussex. He is also Director of Training at The School of Preachers in Riga, Latvia

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