Tim Hughes 'Ultimate Collection' Album Review
Prime Cuts: At Your Name, May the Words of My Mouth, Jesus You Alone
Some worship songs provide the common rhetoric shared across by many churches. Songs such as "Here I Am in to Worship," "Happy Day" and "Beautiful One" are sung across so many denominations across the world that it connects us together regardless of our doctrinal and theological differences. Many may not know the name Tim Hughes, but many sure can hum to his tunes. These songs have certainly united churches across the globe together in the praise of the Almighty. What is surprising is that this two- time Song of the Year GMA Dove Award winner has only released four studio album and one live album. Yet, many songs from his canon are already worship staples. What works in Hughes' favor is that he hails from London, England. Thus, he brings to his template his British post-grunge rock distinctive. And being from the Anglican tradition, Hughes juggles elements of the rich theological flavors without sacrificing for a moment the rawness and immediacy of contemporary worship. This collection conspicuously brings together a cavalcade of his better known songs from all his studio albums from his 2001 "Here I Am to Worship" to last year's "Love Shine Through." And for the avid fan who has own all of Hughes' music this may come as a disappointment; however, for the casual fan, this is an excellent investment. Here you get all his most notable hits all in one collection and there is a whooping 16 tracks to boot.
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What is most amazing about Hughes is the consistency in the quality of music he has had set for himself. While the music of many singer-songwriters becomes more derivative as the years progress, Hughes has been consistent. Starting off with his solo debut record in 2001, we have Hughes' signature worship ballad "Here I Am to Worship." A track that has been covered by Darlene Zschech and the Hillsong team, Michael W. Smith, Jeremy Camp and many others, Hughes' version is still the best. With its militant beat and well orchestrated strings, this staple really captures the heart of worship without any trimmings or frills. The ethereal "May the Words of My Mouth" showcases the depth of Hughes' song writing prowess: here taking echoes from the hymn "Be Thou My Vision" and the treasury of the Psalter to ornament into a sonic tapestry of living to please God. Also, from his debut album is "Maker of All"-here we find Hughes furloughing his balladry style and letting go with a jumping praise burner. Maybe one of the more obscure gems from the debut record is "Jesus Alone."
Proving that he is not just a one hit wonder, "Beautiful One" from his sophomore record "When Silence Falls" is today's one of the most sung worship songs today. One could say a lot about this Matt Redman-like pop tune: but ultimately the beauty of this song is that it is gloriously Christ-centered song. As long as Jesus is lifted, as the Scriptures promised, human beings will be drawn to Him. Congratulations have to offered to this worship director when it comes to "Whole World in His Hands"-here Hughes ingeniously takes on elements of a children's hymn and scripture and making them into a delightful new worship paean altogether. One of the highlights from his 2007 "Holding Nothing Back" is "God of Justice." Here Hughes breaks away from his usual template to tackle an issue that is by no means less God-centered: the topic of being a missional church. Even though the song goes for 7 minutes, every second is just as powerful. Partnering with Delirious' Martin Smith comes the title cut "Holing Nothing Back," a 80s sounding rocker that boasts some overwrought guitar riffs.
A decade after his debut record, "Love Shines Through" showcases two of Hughes' best work: with "At Your Name" being the lodestar. Following Hillsongs' 'Yahweh," "At Your Name" is one of the few worship numbers to use God's Hebraic name. Another personal favorite is "Jesus Saves"-here Hughes ventures into more adventurous territory with more electro beats over a stunning tune exalting in the salvific work of Jesus Christ. Ultimately, it is Jesus Christ and his Cross that lies in the message of Hughes' songs. And this is why even only after four albums Hughes has been able to make such an impact for Christ. Hughes has lifted Christ and when He is lifted up, the world becomes blind to its races, sexes and classes. And together we will worship God with the same language of heavenly praise.
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