Monday, December 10, 2007

This may be the mother of all Christian music collections

Songs 4 Ever
Artist: Various
Label: Time Life (
Length: 10 CDs with 150 songs

I want to say “Wow,” but that’s a different series of collected faith-inspired music. Produced by Time Warner, and part of the Songs 4 series, this may be the mother of all Christian music collections.

Just the size alone makes it noteworthy: 10 CDs with 150 songs spanning three decades of Christian music in a box that opens from the top with a back hinge. Even the box makes me want to say, “Wow!” It’s the right word, but the wrong series. Think Songs 4 and to elaborate on the word Ever, we have a classic collection of timeless Christian music.

This comprehensive grouping ranges from the work of early Christian music pioneers like Larry Norman, Keith Green, Phil Keaggy and the 2nd Chapter of Acts to those like Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Rich Mullins, and Steven Curtis Chapman, who are widely recognized today. It also brings us to the present with songs by Mercy Me, Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin and Third Day.

What makes this unique is the combination of Praise & Worship with some of the biggest and most popular songs in the history of contemporary Christian music. “Butterfly Kisses” by Bob Carlisle takes its place right next to “Shout to the Lord” by Darlene Zschech. Steven Curtis Chapman’s “The Great Adventure” is side by side with Michael W. Smith’s “Draw Me Close.” Audio Adrenaline’s celebratory “Big House” gets equal time with Brian Doerksen’s “Come, Now is the Time to Worship.” With only a few exceptions, you get the original version of a hit song.

Delirious? is known for many wonderful recordings but one of their best remains “Shout to the North.” The simplicity combined with the more acoustic sound of this early recording make it a delight. With so many covers of Praise & Worship songs, it’s a joy to go back to the first take.

Despite the criticism of what is known as CCM, this huge collection shows just how good it can be. One could argue with some of the choices, but with any collection like this there are some weaker selections. Overall, it’s a strong collection and will make an excellent gift for any fan of Praise & Worship songs or contemporary Christian music.

Kudos to Time Life for giving us a collection that right down to the box will be hard to top. How about another set that unearths and focuses on the classic work of pioneer Christian artists?
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