Break out the tambourines and rise up singing! A hymn revival is happening … again.
Back in 2009, a collective of musicians in Salt Lake City gathered to breathe new life into ancient hymns. They booked a studio, invited a wealth of friends from near and far, amassed a collection of chord charts and folk instruments, and embarked on five-day recording session to see what could happen. The result was a collection of 30 songs, most of which appeared on the group’s full-length debut, “A Hymn Revival.”
The collective draws their name from a sermon Dwight L. Moody preached more than 100 years ago, in which a ship crashes because the lower lights weren’t able to guide the ship home. God will take care of the great lighthouse, Moody told his congregation, therefore “let us keep the lower lights burning.”
This month, The Lower Lights continue to shine as they release a second stand-out collection of hymns, aptly titled, “A Hymn Revival II.” And this time around, the group of 20+ musicians expands their repertoire outside of the “American Protestant” catalog, and into the wider collection of folk music, including country classics like Hank Williams’ “I Saw the Light” and “Calling You,” the African-American spiritual “Go Down Moses,” and the familiar Irish hymn “Be Thou My Vision.”
Each of the 16 tracks on “A Hymn Revival Vol. II,” glow with intention. Whether it’s the soft but steady pulse of the song “Nearer My God to Thee,” or the call-and-response elicited from snappy chorus of “In the Sweet By and By,” The Lower Lights’ sophomore album presents another authentic look at the joy of the Christian life found in community and comradery, all propelled by the sacred art of making music.
Take a look at the in-studio session below to see more from The Lower Lights.
Joshua Witchger is an online assistant at Sojourners.