Compact Disc: Hymn: the American Boychoir

...a new recording of hymns by the American Boychoir. Produced by Angel Records #AGD5064, $13.99. Reviewed by Randall Engle, minister of worship at Calvary Christian Reformed Church, Bloomington, Minnesota.

It shouldn't work. The ancient sound of a boychoir with the sound of contemporary Christian artists; the medieval chant-hymn Christe, Qui Lux es et Dies with Twila Paris's Lamb of God, the voice of Steven Curtis Chapman with the pipes of the mighty Moeller organ of St. George's Church of New York. It shouldn't work. But it does.

Recorded last June on the Angel label, the American Boychoir's new CD revives those who have lost hope in the art of creative, yet tasteful, hymn-singing.

What makes the recording hold together, in addition to the quality of both performance and recording, is the way the familiar hymns have been arranged. This is largely due to the brilliant work of Ron Huff and Tom Mitchell, who hope to have these arrangements published soon. (And a good thing! Any choir director listening to the fresh treatment of "A Mighty Fortress" will want this arrangement for Reformation Day!) In other selections the boychoir is joined by contemporary Christian artists Twila Paris and Steven Curtis Chapman, the men singers of the Albemarle Consort, and the instrumentalists of St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble who assist in weaving a musical tapestry of choral and orchestral color. The CD concludes with a rousing flourish that calls for the resources of all instrumentalists and organ in performing Vaughan Williams's setting of OLD HUNDREDTH.

Thoroughly traditional, yet thoroughly unconventional, this recording is sure to awaken tired church musicians. Musically, spiritually, and aesthetically, this CD is worth exploring by any music director in search of ideas for choir and congregation, and who needs a fresh take on classic hymns. By any angle, this recording by a choir of angels is simply stunning.

Randall D. Engle (randyengle@aol.com) is pastor of North Hills Christian Reformed Church, Troy, Michigan.