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Trinity

Various Artists


Serious quality production values are essential these days on a worship set made up of previously released hits and re-worked tunes, and this album delivers big-time.

For design-driven reasons, the credits for each song are on the final spread of the booklet, which means you spend an annoying amount of time flicking backwards and forwards…

The cover art features brushstrokes simulating a sunset, with an intrusive plug socket superimposed, which makes some sense but not loads. I suppose it's better than the corny clouds and lightning symbolism, but the main message that gets through to me is power, not three-in-one-ness. But that's probably my fault.

It's good to see Nathan and the boys getting past the Faithful spell, and pushing the boundaries once again. Not that this is inaccessible or even desperately adventurous; it's nevertheless loosened the safety belt a little and moved toward the kerb, to stretch the analogy a little. No, I don't mean into the gutter or on double yellows (what would they symbolise?, I ask myself), but I'm trying to suggest that the Fellies, Sandeman and Rose are all uncomfortable sitting on broken white lines and cat's eyes.

The theme restricts the playlist a little, and prevents a traditional worship-time running order, but expands the options and opens the door to such eccentric items as Breath of Heaven. Is that too strong a word? Think of the Yes Minister -style declensions of a verb: I'm original, you're peculiar, he's eccentric…

Okay, the track-by-track analysis:

See What a Morning
Following a spooky start and some great powerchords, Lou Fellingham celebrates Easter with the excellent Townend/Getty hymn, rapidly replacing Up From the Grave He Arose in my list of Top Songs to Eat Hot Cross Buns By.

Holy Father
Alan Rose's pulsing guitar chugs set the groove for the entry of chorused chords and some excellent lyrics that, despite the promise of the title, aren't about the Pope at all. Great line: the work of the Son is completed/A new way of life has begun.

How great is our God
And now the chorus pedal goes into warm overdrive accompanying Redman's breathy performance of this song. Some nice new chord departures at the previously uneventful corners provide a new twist. There's slight danger of a solo for a while, but for some reason this was averted by not doing it, despite the power chords being provided for the purpose.

You are the Lord
Lou Felly again, giving the golden tonsil treatment to husband Nathan's great song. I really like the way her vox are right there in the verses, but dive comfortably and behind the powerchords (David Michaud this time) in the chorus.

Dance of our God
Warm chocolate vocals from the deeply groovy Geraldine Latty strongly enhance this great soul backbeat number. Oh, hallelujah, further from Lord of the Dance you couldn't hope to get. This has fascinating instrumentation and outstanding delivery of cracking good lyrics, packed with rejoicing psalmody. And having built powerfully, it ends with a very empty, tuneful twiddle. Very different, very special, busbee!

Triune God
Triune too hard? This one's got the lot: 6/8 time; jangly guitar; shrill end piano; alarmingly boxy snare (at the start); singer/songwriter performance; all the trinity buzzwords and phrases, with a weak bid to be used as a song for Communion; space for a solo; antiphonal section; huge volume drop before it all comes back with a vengeance; and only lacks the key change for the final chorus repeat. I found this a bit corny and contrived in this album of quality writing… Sorry.

Father most Holy
The lovely Cathy Burton and her great voice fill out broken chord shapes and some great lick playing by Alan Rose, with his favourite angry wasp distortion. Leaves me filled with awe and wonder at the grace and generous mercy of the Lord in revealing himself to us.

Gifted Response
Nathan gets to do his Phil Collins In the Air Tonight impression, with gated reverb on the toms, which sound great. This song may well be a grower, with interesting chords, odd rhymes, Redman's signature call to praise, intense honesty, and a guitar lick towards the end, with a great echo at the final finish.

Come, Let us sing
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Corrs as they influence this gaelic jig, with violins, simulated penny whistle, jaunty time signature and showcase chorus tune. Vocals here by Krysten Getty (any relation to Stuart Townend's conspirator?) Great finish.

We Believe in God the Father
Fabulous guitar chugs with a great new chord structure lift Kendrick's praise march anthem into a new dimension. The anointed Chris Hanby provides a heartfelt performance of the creed, surviving with great credit even a total cessation of all accompaniment at one point. Lou Fellingham throws in a good counterpoint, and the Alan Rose guitar rounds it all off with the sort of power chords which were not promised at the outset.

There is a redeemer
Actually, there is only a chorus, repeated. But the A Day in the Life ending is worthy of a long rendering. Nice piano by Mike Sandeman, and crystal clear vocal from Cathy Burton. Way too brief. As this has been one of my fave songs for many years, I could have done with more of this!

Days of Heaven
The same pair continue with Dave Fellingham's heartfelt cry for the presence of God. Arpeggio city welcomes padville.

Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song)
Now here's a novelty. A biog song, quite befitting a musical, telling Mary's story of her journey to Bethlehem. Honest emotion - nervously trusting tentatively in God's promise as she carries the Son, inviting the Holy Spirit to comfort her. Not a congregational item!

He is Yahweh
Okay, a good African groove with congas and Zulu vocals. But my theology is stretching beyond the norm to cope with Father, Son and Spirit all being termed Yahweh; I thought the secret name of Jehovah referred to the Father. While Trinitarian doctrine implies that the roles and names should be interchangeable, they generally are not. But perhaps I'm straining a gnat.

Jesus Christ Holy One
A happy return to safer territory, both musically and lyrically. A Phatfish classic, complete with hook, Luke's solid bottom end, Alan's thrash & arpeggio alternating approach and an almost Lennon-esque echo on Lou's vocals.

Be Still and Know
Chris Hanby again delivers a sensational vocal with Lex Loizedes' electrifying prophetic song. This a fine finish to the playlist: solid Bible quotation; church-centred; huge vision; strong imagery; quick geography lesson; all raising a cheer in response. And I think there's what can only be described as a plagial cadence when the last line is given the callipers signal treatment.

In Conclusion
Not flawless, then, but a high-quality selection of songs that help restore (or at least re-state) Trinitarian theology in a suitably high position in our expressions of worship. The concept is excellent; more like this would be most welcome. Actually, there is an argument for other compilations to follow this sort of rationale; rather then being simply 'new' or 'sung in a particular tent or cowshed one week during a summer', how about collections which promote or reflect key aspects of our rich doctrinal pillars? Family Life, Receiving from God, The Cross, Justification by Faith, Eschatology (and if you don't know what that is, don't worry, it's not the end of the world), Salvation, Creation, Power (you could use the plug symbol again), Humility, Love, etc.