Album Review: Don Moen, “Hymnbook”

ALBUM TITLE: Hymnbook: 16 Classic Hymns
ARTIST: Don Moen
BEST TRACK/S: Grace Greater Than Our Sin, It Is Well With My Soul, My Jesus I Love Thee

Legendary praise and worship leader Don Moen has released Hymnbook: 16 Classic Hymns, now available in the Philippines via House of Praise. This collection compiles several of Christian music’s most beloved hymns, alongside some deserving albeit lesser-known hymns, and wraps them around Moen’s reliable vocals and poignantly sparse, easily replicable instrumentation. The end result is a thematically cohesive if slightly underwhelming release that will provide churches with good foundational material for revisiting hymns for communal use.

Great is Thy Faithfulness by Don Moen

On Hymnbook, which is being distributed by the artist’s independent self-titled record label, Moen collaborates with Tom Lane, who provides guitars and vocals; Blair Masters, who plays piano, B3, and other keyboards, and Debi Selby, who sings backup vocals. Noticeable absent are the presence of drums, which makes for a more solemn listening experience.

Many beloved hymns are present on Hymnbook, the best ones of which in my opinion are It Is Well With My Soul, My Jesus I Love Thee, How Great Thou Art, and How Great Thou Art. The simple melodies and solid harmonies make any of these particular hymns a great choice for churches’ use, especially for the Easter services. There is also the inclusion of songs that I am hearing for the first time; Grace Greater Than Our Sin, and He Giveth More Grace are, in particular, quite inspired.

Excellent song choices and earnest delivery notwithstanding, the potential downside to Hymnbook lies ultimately in the lackadaisical arrangements of many of the songs. Given the mostly mid-tempo arrangements, a few of the hymns stand to sound like each other. I, for one, have heard many of these songs done by other artists, and, to be honest, Moen’s versions will pale in comparison. Top of mind, I can’t help compare Moen’s My Jesus I Love Thee to the sterling a capella rendition of Contemporary Christian vocal group Avalon, and I’m underwhelmed by Moen’s version from the get-go.

Ultimately, though, this is a Moen project, and methinks that Moen intended for the melodies and words of the hymns to stand out. The collection in its entirety may not tread new ground, but Hymnbook is ultimately a good collection for churches looking to revisit some of the beauty and solemnity of these classic hymns.

Bonus: Don Moen’s website offers some previews of a few of the songs. Click on the links below to listen or download.

All Creatures of Our God and King | He Giveth More Grace | It Is Well with My Soul | Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing | Great Is Thy Faithfulness | I Surrender All | Holy Holy Holy

Disclosure: A review copy of Hymnbook was provided for review by House of Praise.

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