Veteran Christian artist Michael W. Smith is excited about his upcoming album "Hymns II: Shine on Us" and the stories the songs represent. Smith graciously took time this week to discuss this new project and to share personal stories about the chosen hymns on his album with Christian Activities.
Kathryn Darden, Christian Activities: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me about your new album today, Michael. I am looking forward to you sharing some of the stories that go along with the 16 brand new tracks you picked for this project. First, are any of them new songs and which ones did you write?
Michael W. Smith:
I don’t think there’s anything brand new. There are a couple I wrote like "Great Is the Lord, a “blast from the past” from 1983 and "Shine on Us" -- a song Debbie and I wrote a long time ago which Phillips, Craig and Dean recorded. Those are the two I wrote. What’s unique is this project is a little bit old and a little bit new. The last album was mostly hymns I had heard in the church. This time we have some hymns and some songs that are current
KD: So tell us a little about some of the songs that stand out on this project and what they mean to you.
MWS: They are all special to me in some way, like "I Need Thee" — I still get chocked up when I sing it, or "Jesus only Jesus" which is a brand-new worship song I lead at my church. "His Eye is on the Sparrow" — hearing it in Sister Act, blew me away. I had heard it all my life, but hearing it in "Sister Act" was incredible. I decided I wanted to do the Smitty version for this album and though "I can create something unique with it." "Shine on Us" — I love that song. I asked Phillips, Craig and Dean to do "Shine On Us" recently in concert. It was magical. I knew we needed to use it.
KD: How about "A Mighty Fortress," one of my favorite songs.
MWS: I sang that song growing up. We needed one big anthemic number, and this was the one I wanted to use. "A Mighty Fortress" makes me think of cathedrals.
KD: What does "O Sacred Head" -- another of my very favorite hymns, mean to you?
MWS: We used to sing that song at Belmont Church with Don Finto in the 1980s. We would sing that one a cappella. It was just so moving. It just popped into my head and I thought of "O Sacred Head" because it has such a great lyric. What separates this from first album is we have the greatest singers in Nashville coming into my studio and just blowing it out of the water.
KD: How about "America the Beautiful?" I have been to several of your concerts and other performances that had very patriotic overtones. What does this song mean to you?
MWS: "America the Beautiful" is my favorite patriotic song of all song. It’s a hymn. Why would I not record this? I don’t think I am being political at all, but I do have to take a look at our nation. Things sure have shifted when it comes to the principals on how this country was founded. It seemed to be the right thing to include this song during the craziest political primary I can remember.
KD: I think I have used up the time slot so unless there is anything else you want to share, I will let you go to your next call.
MWS: The new album released January 29, 2016 exclusively at Cracker Barrell which is just so neat. The demographic at Cracker Barrell is their customers will buy CDs. Cracker Barrel clientele stills buys CDs, so you can’t buy this record except at Cracker Barrell. I am excited about this album and looking forward to seeing what people thing about it.
Buy "Hymns II: Shine on Us" on Amazon or at Cracker Barrell.
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