Various Artists “Before Amen: A Worship Collection” Album Review

Before Amen

Prime Cuts: My Highest Hope (Darlene Zschech), Abba Father (Planetshakers), What a Friend (Kathryn Scott)

Max Lucado's "Before Amen: The Prayer of a Simple Prayer" is Gospel for all prayer wimps. It is definitely not written with the prayer marathon sprinter in mind; those who can keep vigil by kneeling without any complains for hours without end.  It is definitely not written for the erudite prayer scholar in mind; those who can string together literary masterpieces flourished with so much intricate poetry that Hallmark would be waiting in line to copy write. Rather, "Before Amen" is a book for the rookie underdog, for those who are spiritual stutters, for those who struggle with a dearth of vocabulary.  Writing with his usual patented animation, Lucado makes prayer simple, effective, powerful, and enjoyable again.  "Before Amen: A Worship Collection" is the music soundtrack that accompanies Lucado's book. It features 11 songs with Lucado himself narrating the first and last track with snippets from the book.

Released by Integrity Music, "Before Amen: A Worship Collection" finds the imprint lining up some of their biggest artists to the fore with Darlene Zschech, Planetshakers, Paul Baloche, Soul Survivors, and Rend Collective.  In addition, other guests including Kathyrn Scott, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith are also enlisted in the track listing.  Yet, these songs are not all jumble together without much forethought.  Rather, the songs are so arranged that they reflect the flow of the book's themes. And they reflect the tenets of Lucado's model prayer that he advocates right through the book.  

Of the 11 musical tracks only 3 of them are newly recorded for this project.  And it is to these we first turn our attention to.  Darlene Zschech's "My Highest Hope" is definitely the buzz track as this song itself is a testimony of answered prayers.  Late last year, Zschech was diagnosed with breast cancer; "My Highest Hope" is this Hillsong matriarch first song to be released after that.  After her bout with cancer and the gruelling ordeals of chemo, instead of littering disappointing hurts within his song, Zschech still empties her soul in complete trust in God.  And when she sings "I trust you with my life/Lord over every fear/Your love is holding me," we can't help but fight back the tears. While the second of the trio of the new songs is Paul and Rita Baloche's "Father You Are Good" which brings the album to a fitting end as Rita (who sings lead) croons the Lord's Prayer embedded into a new worship song.

The final new song that will also be featured in Planetshakers' forthcoming album is "Abba Father."  This Australian worship team, who are often known for their stadium rock worship, surprises us with the string and piano imbued ballad "Abba Father," that functions as a gorgeous divine lullaby. As for the rest of the songs, Kathryn Scott delivers a stunning version of the hymn "What a Friend" done with contemporary sensibilities.  Speaking of hymns, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith's "Lord Have Mercy" also share a hymnic ring that is worshipfully inviting.  However, John Mark McMillan's live take of his signature song "How He Loves Us" sounds like it's in need of serious re-mastering.  And for an album of studio cuts, his live rendition seems out of place. With these songs sturdily focused on the worship of God and prayer, you don't have to be a prayer stud for these songs to lead us right into the presence of Christ. 



Tags : max lucado Before Amen: A Worship Collection max lucado new book max lucado before amen review before amen review Darlene Zschech Planetshakers Paul Baloche kathryn scott paul baloche kathryn scott rend collective Kari Jobe

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