Posted by Ben
Some years back, Stephanie and I went to a Gaither Family Concert in Shreveport, Louisiana. The tickets were a Christmas gift from a family member. Not only was the concert quite good and encouraging, but I first heard the song "Mary Was the First One To Carry The Gospel" at that concert. Some time later, I bought the CD Still The Greatest Story Ever Told becasue it that contained that song. (I should mention that Reformed people are not supposed to like the Gaither Quartet, Southern Gospel, and popular Christian music. I have gotten odd looks and comments when I mentioned the Gaither Family Concert in TR circles.) Critics and Scrooges aside, this CD is a marvelous collection of music.
The lead song is a powerful John Donne-like celebration of Mary's wonderous role in redemption's plan. The harmonies of the group are great, and I love it when the line is sung "what the prophet told has come to pass: a virgin has conceived" and there is a scream of delight in the background. (Some John Donne poetry calls for screams of excitement.)
The other songs on this collection are mostly Gaither Quartet arrangements and creations. The only traditional Christmas song is "The Christmas Song" ("Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...."). One of the greatest songs on the collection is Mark Lowery's "Mary, Did You Know?" That song sends chills up my spine every time I hear it. Modern song writers do not always pen the greatest lyrics, and we usually only sing a slim selection of the great song writers of the past, but they all have their high points. "Mary, Did You Know?" is certainly a high point in Lowery's song writing career and a great praise song.
The Gaither Quartet at the time of this recording had a remarkably smooth blend of singers. You have harmony, with volume, with strong masculine voices, with excitement, and with musical slides that are amazing. With Guy Penrod, who can wear long hair and look manly, Mark Lowery, equally talented as a singer and comedian, David Phelps, an incredible tenor, and Bill Gaither, the guiding inspiritation of the group and the greater Gaither productions, this was a gathering and blending of extraordingary talent.
The songs on this CD are much more lively and upbeat than the songs on the CDs previously highlighted. This is not coffee drinking/theology reading music; rather, it is great for getting revved up for the day. This is dominion theology with lyrics and melodies designed to focus the heart and mind on the season. This music reminds us of the joy of the Advent season.
SONGS ON THIS CD:
1. Mary Was the First One to Carry the Gospel
2. New Star Shining
4. Little One
5. It's Still the Greatest Story Ever Told
6. Christmas Song, The
7. Mary, Did You Know?
8. Go Tell Everyone
9. Hand of Sweet Release
10. He Started the Whole World Singing