The Gadsby Project was our last release of hymn rewrites. All of the text came from a hymnal compiled by William Gadsby and published in 1838. Although William Gadsby wrote many of the hymns in the hymnal, the bulk of the text is comprised of many different writers. There are hymns by famous writers such as Charles Wesley, Issac Watts, William Cowper, Anne Steele, Augustus Toplady, and Joseph Hart. In fact, there is a whole supplement of the hymnal devoted to Hart and Gadsby.
This hymnal has been very important to us. It seems that a lot of the "worship music" being created these days presents a sort of onse-sided Christianity. In most of the songs today you don't hear a lot about sorrow, pain, struggle, depression, and backsliding. The hymn writers of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries seemed to write with more honesty and depth than the contemporary text writers of today. Of course it is also one-sided to only sing about the darker aspects of the faith, but these old writers display such a balance! In one of my favorite movies, "Vanilla Sky", Jason Lee's character talks about the bitter and the sweet and how you can't really have, or appreciate, one without the other. That's probably in the bible somewhere...about light and darkness or something...but all that comes to my mind is a Cameron Crowe film. Anyway, these writers seemed to know this about the expression of their art; the marriage of valleys and mountain tops. Light and darkness. Sorrow and Joy.
All this to say, having this hymnal to reflect upon and to write out of has given us so much hope. Hope that we are not alone. Hope that sorrow, pain, and hardship are not exclusive to our small believing community here in Birmingham, but rather that Christians from different parts of the country hundreds of years ago struggled through the same tensions. Perhaps that is why we couldn't put it down and are releasing another collection of hymns exclusively from the hymnal. Hopefully we are doing justice to the text with our music and turning people onto this great hymnal that has given us so much joy and hope.