Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Gadsby, Gadsby, Gadsby


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.

8 comments:

brian said...

Hey, I'm Brian, a big fan of Red Mountain. You guys have been a blessing. I've got all three, and in my opinion they get progressively better in songwriting and production. Except nothing you'll ever do will ever touch "There Forever Stay." Holy smokes, that song is hott.

I must say though, I really don't like the idea of needing darkness to experience light. Or pain to expierience pleasure, despair to experience joy. If that's what you were saying. Yuck.

Looking forward to Gadsby II...

Hey, and you guys should do a blog on worship at Red Mountain- I think I read you implement a lot of your songs during Sunday worship- do you do a full band setting, or what? Just interests me.

Peace to ya.

Brian T. Murphy said...

brian - thanks for the note. yes we do full bands stuff at red mountain for our sunday services, and yes we do many of these songs for our sunday worship. I'll try and post something about this soon...

Anonymous said...

I really love your music. Partly biased as your Pastor is my older brother :) Put that aside, and I still love your stuff. In fact, it has inspired me to not only appreciate hymns more, but to write original music. Keep it going - though your music, you may inspire a new generation of hymnwriters.
Blessings,
Charlie in Hawaii

Anonymous said...

How about a Psalter Project?I'm Steve's little brother, pretending to be an uptight Scottish Sanctification guy in New Hampshire.He loves it when I do that.

Liz Wells said...

ok, so i don't know most of the numbers from gadsby, but here's my favorites so far:
*the one where irwin does the fantastic bass part to start out the song...
*the one that says "the love of christ passes knowledge...pierces him like a spear"
*and last but not least, 281-the only one i know the number for. i love the line "i find my heart averse to all that is good"

and i don't think the point was that we need darkness to experience light, but that we are in fact in darkness. we are still in this broken world, in broken bodies, which only drives us destitute after the pleasure and joy to be had in Jesus. Not yuck, true and beautiul.

brian said...

yeah, if that's what was meant, with the light and dark thing, rock on.
It's funny- postmodernism is often associated with authenticity and honesty, and yet, with exceptions of course, so much modern worship music (with exceptions, naturally) has been so G-rated (or just quiet) about the human condition and suffering.
so hooray for honest old hymns, and for Red Mountain!

andrew spear said...

i don't really like gadsby

caplauger said...

I have been greatly blessed by your work. I hope you put more Gadsby Hymns to music. I try to read the Gadsby Hymnal according to a schedule I made up, whereby I accomplish the entirety of it in a year. It's great to be able to ingrain it into my mind via the music you put it to. It's worth more than gold to me. Your songs along with Indelible Grace are all that I listen to.