Friday, July 8, 2011

Book Review: A Call to Prayer

This book was another purchase I made with the gift card I received from a student after the spring term. Sadly, it's taken me until July to preview the book and post a review, but here it is at long last.

Years ago, I received as a gift a book of hymn arrangements by Melody Bober and literally fell in love with every one of the songs in the book. The settings were refreshingly original, and different enough that I didn't feel like I was playing a rehash of the same roadmap for every piece. Unfortunately, I misplaced the book, so when I was searching for books to add to my order, another Melody Bober collection seemed a good choice. The title of the book alone, "A Call to Prayer: 10 Arrangements of Hymns that Speak to the Heart", was enough to pique my interest. As a rule, I tend to be more interested in quieter, more introspective arrangements, and this sounded like it would fit the bill.

I did an initial run-through of the book last week, and have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with most of the arrangements. Feeling a little bit frustrated, I laid the book aside and decided to wait a bit before I picked it back up and gave it a second run-through.

This afternoon I was able to re-visit the book for at least a partial re-play of each arrangement, and I'm glad that I did. A second shot left me with a much more positive opinion of this collection, though it still doesn't rank among my top favorites. While I still see some of the arrangements as either too simplistic, predictable, flashy in spots, or modern for my tastes, there were a few selections that are quite nice. I loved how the arrangement of Be Still My Soul/It Is Well With My Soul ended by blending both hymns together, I like the slightly syncopated feel of He Leadeth Me, Just As I Am is simply and gorgeously arranged, and the hint of jazz found in the final arrangement What a Friend We Have in Jesus is pure fun to play.

Overall, while still not completely thrilled with my purchase, I can see that this book will afford many nice arrangements for upcoming church services. Has anyone else puchased/previewed this book? What were your opinions?

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