The Review Zone – Benjamin Hersh : Fulfilled Promise

Benjamin HershBENJAMIN HERSH : Fulfilled Promise.   (www.binyamin.org)

It must have taken a great belief for a Jewish man to go against his own family tradition and declare his faith as a Christian. But, that is exactly what classically trained pianist, Benjamin Hersh did. He and his wife, are currently establishing a ministry, after having worked with the Jewish people for many years through street evangelism, hospitality and building long term relationships. This album of messianic praise will  not be to everyone’s taste, as many of the songs are sung in Hebrew, an no English translation is given on the sleeve notes. However, from the songs that I could lyrically understand, Benjamin attempts, with success, to tell some of Jesus’ story. For instance, ‘Oh What Pain You Suffered’, although a little long in length, tells the story of the crucifixion with real depth in the vocals. With just his piano playing for accompaniment, he waxes lyrical on the subject of the people of Israel crying out for a Saviour, on the song ‘A Cry From the Desert’. Of the Hebrew sung songs, I thought that ‘Hine Ma Tov’ (based on Psalm 133:1) sounded like a lament rather than my translation of brethren gathering in unity. However, I am not an authority on Hebrew, and stand to be corrected. ‘Oh Zion’ actually seems to be a little repetitive and is quite a listen at nearly 17 minutes long. What I had to do with this release, is to remember that it IS messianic praise, and that it is aimed, primarily, at Jewish people. Therefore, it’s not going to race away to the Top of any Christian charts. On the other hand, I do believe that it will be welcomed with open arms by the very people Benjamin is trying to reach.   7/10.

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The Review Zone – VARIOUS : Jesus Firm Foundation – Hymns of Worship. @ProvidentDist

jesus-firm-foundation-hymns-of-worshipVARIOUS : Jesus Firm Foundation – Hymns of Worship.   (Provident : 02341-0180-2)

This collection of timeless hymns have been “re-imagined” by today’s most respected Christian artists. The sad thing for me, listening to this album, was that I didn’t know a lot of the hymns. I guess, by the artists featured, that most of these tunes are American. I enjoyed the title track, even though I didn’t know the song. This one is sung by Mike Donehey (Tenth Avenue North), Steven Curtis Chapman, Mark Hall (Casting Crows) and Mandisa. I smiled to myself as I listened to ‘All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name’. The big voice, the over the top production, it just had to be Michael W. Smith. Matt Maher sings a nice version of ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’, while Kari Jobe gives a pretty rendition of ‘Be Still My Soul’. For lover’s of Celtic music, both the Newsboys and Matthew West give tremendous versions of ‘Jesus Paid It All’ and ‘Blessed Assurance’, respectively. This, I feel is the album’s purple patch and it’s a strong finish to the track listing. It’s an album that throws up a few different sounds for the listener, and despite the unfamiliarity of some of the hymns, it’s well worth a listen.   8/10.

The Happening – Ashley Cleveland, Little Black Sheep @ashleycleveland

Ashley ClevelandGrammy Award-winning singer ASHLEY CLEVELAND has written her autobiography. Little Black Sheep: A Memoir will be published in September by David C Cook. Cleveland’s book tells of her devastated childhood, addiction as a young adult and her deliverance through Christ. Said Cleveland, “Gradually and reluctantly with a great deal of hemming, hawing and complaining, I surrendered to telling my tale. This is the story of the groundwork that paved the way to my faith. It is not an easy story to tell.”

The Happening – DJ Andy Hunter @AndyJHunter

Andy HunterDJ ANDY HUNTER releases the second version of his remix EP ‘Glowing Collision V2’ on 1st July 2013. The digital six-track EP will be available from iTunes and Amazon and features tracks originally taken from his ‘Glow’ and ‘Collide’ EPs. The new EP follows the first ‘Glowing Collision’ remix EP which was released in March, with V2 including remixes by Maxem, Mark Webb, Transfrom DJs, DeeFlash, Alejando Cesar and Wicho Lopez.

The Happening – Perry LaHaie

Perry LaHaieFrontiers recording artist PERRY LaHAIE has released the song “Unqualified” from his new CD, Ahead, to Christian radio. “Unqualified” is the first single from the 11-song collection. “I think the message of ‘Unqualified’ is really universal,” LaHaie says. “A friend of mine nailed it recently when he told me, ‘Even after starting to follow Jesus, there are so many times of failure in the journey that we don’t feel qualified to represent Jesus to others. It’s vital to remember that isn’t the case. “The reality,” LaHaie says, “is that we are all unqualified and God has taken the gargantuan step to qualify us through the death of His own Son. If God can forgive and use me, He can forgive and use anyone. He has forgiven us to be a blessing to our neighbours and to the nations!”

The Happening – WeAreWorship Song Contest @weareworship

weareworship.comINTEGRITY MUSIC EUROPE, a division of David C. Cook, is inviting all songwriters to share their own corporate worship songs that are resourcing their local church. Running from July 1st until July 31st the competition is open to anyone and everyone who wishes to submit a song for inclusion. You might not think you’re the next Matt Redman or the new John Wesley, but WeAreWorship is excited about discovering the songs that are inspiring worshippers today.

Worship – like church – thrives when it finds its lungs in a local community. And local churches are often the birthplace of some of the best worship songs around. “We believe that there are some hidden gems showing local expressions of worship that deserve to be heard by a wider audience” said Jonathan Brown, Managing Director, Integrity Music Europe. “We wanted to find a way to encourage local worshipping communities to share their work with a wider audience, and also to celebrate and encourage new talent.” Les Moir, Director of A&R, adds: “We’ve been privileged to have been stewards of some of the most popular worship songs in the world, but we know there are even more being sung at a local level. We think they deserve to be shared, and simply by entering the contest every song has the chance to be heard around the world.”

The song that wins the most votes will win an amazing prize; an invitation to join Executive Producer Les Moir (Graham Kendrick, Tim Hughes, Matt Redman) and his team for a day in the studio. The song will be recorded and made be available from the WeAreWorship website. An introductory video has been made and can be found here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyoZ6WciSbE

Full details of how to enter and full terms are available from www.weareworship.com

The Happening – Martyn Joseph’s PipeFest @martyn_joseph

Martyn JosephAlthough its still over 3 months away, the very last handful of tickets are now available for MARTYN JOSEPH’s PipeFest on September 21st at Lancaster University….with his guests this year, multiple Folk Award winner Karine Polwart, fellow Welsh singer/songwriter and ex lead singer of The Storys, Steve Balsamo with Rosalie Deighton and Radio 4 broadcaster, poet and lyricist Stewart Henderson. Tickets are just £55 to include a whole day of events, along with a full buffet lunch, hot evening meal, afternoon cakes and hot drinks. Full details (including information about available overnight accommodation) can be found at www.imageacoustic.com/index.php/pipefest-2013/ Call 01524 414043 to book by phone.