There are things I am a sucker for … running, Disneyland and Deseret Book. Yes, Deseret Book. I am probably the only person I know that can walk into a Deseret Book and get misty eyed looking at all the paintings, books and awesome music. If I had a million dollars I’d probably spend a good chunk of my money in the store buying paintings and music. I love the spirit that many of these pieces and music bring into your life and to be surrounded by that is a goal of mine.
When I was asked to review to this album by Garth Smith, I was flattered and excited. I love sacred hymns, especially when played on the piano. It brings a different depth of calm and peace that I find I need more often than not.
Garth Smith is an LDS musician who’s been playing the piano since age 5 and beginning as a piano soloist at age 8. Composing and melodies have come quite naturally to Garth at a young age and has focused his career in music. Garth has been a member of the Nashville Songwriters Association, ASCAP and the California Country Music Association. Garth has also performed as a keyboardist in jazz, rock and country bands.
This past March, Garth released “Sacred Hymns Arranged and Performed on the Piano by Garth Smith” his first commercial released CD album. It is a collection of 10 original arrangements of LDS hymns that includes a medley titled, “Missionary Medley.” A wonderfully arranged debut album.
Upon listening to the album for the first time (yes, I’ve already listened to it NUMEROUS times) you could tell that each arrangement was beautifully and prayerfully composed. Each hymn easily invites the spirit and sets a tone of reverence that impacts your immediate mood and surroundings. It is easy to set the album onto repeat and let it run for hours.
A few of the song arrangements stood out to me. The first one was the first track of the album, “How Great Thou Art.” This is one of my favorite hymns, not just to listen to, but to sing. While listening to Garth’s rendition I found myself singing along with the music a few times. It’s such a wonderful and powerful song to start the album of with, because it’s so personal. It sets the tone of the album beautifully.
The Spirit of God is another hymn arrangement that I loved. It catches the beauty of the hymn and I couldn’t help but hum along with it as well. In fact I found myself humming along to Sweet Hour of Prayer, Did You Think to Pray?, among a few others. When music like this makes you happy it’s hard not to show it, right?
But, my favorite arrangement was hands down the Missionary Medley. With it being over 13+ years since I was a full-time missionary for the church, this arrangement brought back a FLOOD of memories and feelings of what it was like to be a missionary. Not, just out in the mission field, but during the preparation for the mission, during the mission and the affect my mission had on the rest of my life.
Garth beautifully weaves I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go, Called to Serve and I Believe in Christ into a medley will make any returned missionary nostalgic for their time spent serving. It really made me yearn for some of those moments spent in Illinois and Wisconsin. It might have brought a tear or two to my eyes.
Garth really sums up his goal for this album as states on his website, “Every hymn on Sacred Hymns is an original arrangement, prayerfully considered, and performed with love for my audience. I hope you feel my testimony of Christ in each performance. I wholeheartedly believe that these sacred hymns can enhance your Sabbath experience, drive-time to the temple, as well as any other time that you feel a need to ‘escape’ the world and listen to music that uplifts the soul.”
And, uplifting it is.
Though Garth resides in Southern California, he will be in Utah to debut the 60min. multi-media fireside “The Hymns: Another Testament of Jesus Christ” where he will play live selections from the Sacred Hymns CD and discuss principles behind them. This event will be at the UCCU Arena on the UVU campus in Orem, Utah on Friday, October 3rd at 12pm. All are welcome.