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Saints of Zion

By R. C. Sproul
April 2018 | Review by Stuart Fisher

Book Review

I approached this review with some trepidation as it is unfamiliar territory for me. This was further compounded by the recent death of R. C. Sproul, a mighty servant of God who has now gone to his eternal reward.

The lyrics are mostly by R. C. Sproul and have been set to music by Jeff Lippencott. This is their second compilation of songs and shows them to be gifted men in their respective roles. Their aim is, in the words of Sproul, ‘helping the church offer worship that is true, good and beautiful’.

Lippencott, an Emmy-nominated composer, has written several TV and film scores. Musically, his work is lavish and magisterial. It is very choral and richly orchestrated, more in the style of the classic oratorio. Sproul’s choice of words is excellent, expressing the theology of the Bible accurately, but with a poetic touch — a rare gift!

While a recognisable style permeates the CD, there is also variety in the 15 songs. Some rise to the epic grandeur of a film score, while others are more reflective and flow with lyrical beauty. They range from quieter psalms, through the Gospels and letters, to the more dramatic expressions of Hebrews 11 and Revelation 21. There is a glorious Christological hymn and an interesting reflection on the Ascension.

The liner notes contain lyrics and background information. It is styled in a rather quaint way, with Gothic script titles. This might limit its marketability to a younger audience.

It would be hard to imagine this collection being used in a congregational format. It is far better performed and listened to with a highly accomplished orchestra and choral ensemble. I suspect that this form of worship would be more easily performed in the USA, with its bigger church orchestras and congregations than the UK.

This work will ideally appeal to Christians with a Reformed background and interest in classical music, but anyone outside that market would be pleasantly surprised by the depth, quality and glory of the work.

Perhaps best enjoyed privately, these songs would certainly aid devotion. To glean the most, you would need the liner notes at hand to follow the lyrics as the chorus, on occasions, is almost drowned by the orchestra. I enjoyed listening to songs in small amounts, choosing songs to match the mood.

Stuart Fisher

Bournemouth

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