Stu Garrard with Various Artists: Beatitudes

In the 1990s, “special project” albums like At the Foot of the Cross and Exodus gathered diverse artists to release new songs together, producing some of the most memorable tracks of the decade like Steve Hindalong’s “Beautiful Scandalous Night” and DC Talk’s “My Will.” Book-tie in projects became common, celebrating works by Oswald Chambers, Max Lucado, and other authors. Stu Garrard, former Delirious? guitarist and current MWS sideman, joins both sides of that tradition with a new book, “Words from the Hill” reflecting on the Beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), and an album collecting collaborators from across the history of modern Christian music. Michael W Smith and Amy Grant represent the 80’s; former Delirious? (and current Army of Bones) frontman Martin Smith represents the 90’s; Audrey Assad, Matt Maher, All Sons & Daughters, The Brilliance, John Mark McMillan, Anthony Skinner, Hillsong United, and Terrian Bass represent prominent and rising artists of the 21st century. Becky Harding provides several spoken word interludes. The songs’ connections to the Beatitudes are more implicit than explicit in most cases. Still, this is an admirable collection of songs focusing on the ethical teachings of Jesus. Grant’s “Morning Light,” Assad’s Mideastern-tinged “I Will Be Your World,” McMillan’s “Heaven is Around Us,” and Propaganda’s “Make a Little Trouble” stand out on this collection that celebrates both Christ and Christian music while calling us to follow with our hands and feet, not just our mouths. (Note: See the April/May 2017 issue Christian Musician Magazine for our cover story on this project.)

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