This is my latest album review for BBC Radio Cornwall. It features the Wonderful Saviour release from Spring Harvest
It’s difficult to know how to describe Spring Harvest. It’s definitely a church event, it’s most certainly a powerful resource for Christians.
It’s a book publisher, a conference arranger, a business partner with other organisations, a holiday park owner and perhaps most significantly a music producer.
From the very beginning – 29 years ago – it has encouraged new songs into the church. Now it is one of the major players in the Christian music industry, releasing a number of top-selling albums each year for everyone from pre-schoolers upwards.
Wonderful Saviour, the pre-recorded double album from Spring Harvest, offers a really interesting treatment of songs used at this year’s event held in early April at the Minehead and Skegness Butlins resorts. The first CD is a full-band treatment of a dozen tracks while the second features 10 songs stripped right back to accoustic takes. Two songs feature on both so, in all, 20 songs worth listening to.
Inevitably, the songs featured at the event quickly become favourites around the country, both because the thousands at the event return home with them ringing in their ears and because the worship leaders at Spring Harvest are chosen from among the cream of Britain’s contemporary Christian musicians.
Of course, singing them back home is not the same as belting them out among 4,000 in a big top, but all of the songs translate into small-group settings – from full band to single keyboard or guitar. And, of course, it’s possible to buy an accompanying worship book with all the music in it.
One of the inevitable criticisms is that Spring Harvest is nothing like church for many people in Cornwall. For some people that’s a real problem and for others it’s a blessing – but what is undeniably true is that for the past three decades the music that has been released to the church from Spring Harvest has transformed the patterns of worshoip in every denomination in Cornwall.
Without the event it’s entirely possible that many of us would never have heard of Graham Kendrick, Matt Redman, Dave Bilbrough and other writers whose music is now routinely a part of our worship landscape – in our homes and cars, if not in our churches.
The way this year’s album has been constructed gives two opportunities to learn the music: high praise, sampling the Big Top experience and that much more intimate feel.
Then, in a couple of months, when all the mixing down has been done, Cornish folk who were at the event, get the chance to buy the live worship album and check if they can hear themselves singing away to the songs that captured the imagination during the weeks on site.
On balance, Wonderful Saviour is better than previous pre-event releases which have sometimes felt a bit sterile. This one sounds like a real album.