Something about late summer always makes me think of relaxing music and sitting around with close friends, drinking sweet tea as the sun sets, a simple time where nothing is hurried and you can just enjoy good company as you catch up with each other about all that’s changing in your lives. It’s the quiet, little moments like these in which a great album plays in the background and someone may begin to tell a story. Hymns by the Acclaim is an album that takes me to that place.

The Puyallup, WA-based band makes music with a clear purpose. The Acclaim states that their mission is to advance a worship movement that embodies the cry of a generation whose lives have been set apart for the kingdom of God amongst a depraved culture.” It was this mission that made me grow especially attached to this album. Hymns is exactly what it sounds like it would be: a five-song album of classic hymns performed live.

This album reminds me a lot of Phil Wickham’s Sing Along. Much like Mr. Wickham’s project this one would have been better if it also included some of the band’s original songs but the project as a whole is still great. Performing only classic hymns makes the tracks stand out and brings a surprising contrast having an Alternative/Indie band create an album of classic music.

Growing up I always respected hymns but I never had a great interest in them. When I thought of them my mind would instantly imagine a small church building full of bored people and a woman at a piano playing through each song at the same tempo. This idea filled my head until I began to help lead worship at my church. It took a bit of understanding but I soon discovered that hymns are some of the most beautifully written songs that ever have existed.

While some people enjoy contemporary worship music there are those that just connect better with a hymn. There’s nothing wrong with preferring one style of music over another; the problem lies in keeping the impression that you can only worship to one style. This is something that I know presents a problem in some churches today. I’ve been to and had friends tell me about places where there was a “great debate” over hymns or no hymns. I feel as though this has divided some congregations as though hymns are only for past generations and rock anthems are only for this one.

Then there are those who just want to worship regardless of the style or tradition. There are those who just want to bring God an offering through song regardless of the year it was written those who try to find a balance between the contemporary and the traditional. I believe The Acclaim is a band that knows this balance well.

The album begins with one of the most famous hymns “Come Thou Fount.” It is a very heartfelt performance and sets the tone for the project. An acoustic guitar softly blends with the vocals. As it progresses you can hear the passion behind certain lyrics most especially the last verse

O to Grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be. Let Thy goodness like a fetter bind my wondering heart to Thee. Prone to wonder Lord I feel it prone to leave the God I love. Hereandlsquo;s my heart Lord take and seal it seal it for Thy courts above

The track after starts with a beautiful instrumental and transitions into “Before the Throne.” This version has the same beautiful tones of the traditional way it’s sung but it stands out with a unique infusion of instruments making it different from any I’ve ever heard before. With a strings section to create a rich sound it’s such a comforting song.

“Jesus Paid It All” is my favorite hymn. I was very happy to find this as the middle track of the EP. I am partial to this song for many reasons and initially I couldn’t wait to hear it. It’s one we often sing at my church and has always meant so much to me. I now have a new reason to enjoy it after hearing The Acclaim’s rendition.

The one song I didnandlsquo;t previously know on this album was “What a Savior.” I feel as though I’ve been missing out on something all of these years because this song sets such a brilliant atmosphere for worship. I find the lyrics so comforting and honest and the performance suits it perfectly. The album ends with “How Deep ” which brings a wonderful close to the album.

The thing I kept thinking about through this project was the fact that it was recorded during a live performance. It’s clear that these guys are dedicated and talented musicians who are committed to providing the best quality possible. Their first EP is going to be one to look for. It’s set to be released in the next few weeks and will show their actual writing style. In the meantime you can get Hymns for free from the band’s Noisetrade site.

This truly isn’t a typical album. It’s a music project that reminds me that God can work through any difference barrier or preference. It’s our decision whether we will embrace change even if it’s not always comfortable or familiar or let an old mindset stand in the way. It is my hope that this generation (and those of past or future ones) will simply worship God all genres aside. I look forward to The Acclaim’s future projects and am so excited about the mission of their band. Be blessed.

Guest Writer