This greatest hits collection compiles 16 of Stuart Townend's best known songs.
From 1995’s How Deep The Father’s Love For Us to 2008’s Creation Sings, all of Stuart’s hits are included.
Arranged in a seemingly random order, it’s not possible to hear the songwriter’s progression in style. Far from being chronological, the album doesn't just jump between albums, but in places, between decades.
The strong Irish sound in Come People of the Risen King starts the recording. But whatever the style, on this recording, the listener is able to enjoy both studio and live performances from the seasoned songwriter.
It would be unfair to review the album without mentioning Keith Getty. 9 of the 16 songs that appear on the collection were cowritten with the Irishman, and their songwriting partnership is one of the most succesful in the Christian world.
It’s difficult to pick out individual songs to talk about as every song appears as powerful as the next. Having said this, In Christ Alone is undoubtedly Stuart’s best known song and the fresh live arrangement gives the modern hymn a new lease of life.
The Power of the Cross contains an unusual piano part which builds magnificently throughout the track. See What a Morning has become such a major part of church music you’d be forgiven for believing it was an old Wesleyan hymn.
The closing moments of the album are poignant and contemplative. Salvation Song begins instrumentally with a violin improvising over atmospheric keyboard sounds before a piano comes in and Stuart sings the opening lines of the hymn-like praise song. “When I’m stained with guilt and sin, he is there to lift me, in the end forgive me” are just some of the many memorable lyrics.
Pour Over Me is another masterpiece. Sensitively recording with nothing but a piano and Stuart’s voice, the song marks another high point on the recording.
The acoustic version of O Church Arise is next. Making a greater impact than the more congregational arrangement, the song mixes soft drumming and guitars together beautifully.
Final track How Long has remained unchanged from its original 1997 arrangement. It’s another incredible track, and one which deserves to be heard and enjoyed by a very wide audience.
The only downside to the recording is there’s nothing new to tempt longtime fans. Plus even if you have never heard of Stuart Townend before, the chances are that if you’ve been in church for anytime at all, you’ve sung at least one of his songs.
It’s unlikely you’ll be listening to 16 songs you’ve never heard before, or even 16 new arrangements. Even though some of the songs were written over 15 years ago, they are just as powerful as ever. And what has been selected to appear on this collection is the best of the best.
Stuart Townend, and his writing partner Keith Getty are two incredible gifts to the global church. If this album does one thing, it proves that statement.
When all is said and done, you can’t go far wrong with this Ultimate Collection.
Rating: 9 out of 10
May 13th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes