Tuesday, August 07, 2012


Guy Penrod grew up the son of a West Texas preacher and is a graduate of Liberty University.  He has been a background vocalist for such well known artists as Carman, Steve Green, and Garth Brooks.  He is probably best known though for having been a member of the Gaither Vocal Band for fourteen years!  In 2010 he released his well-received country debut BREATHE DEEP.  The next year he was inducted into the Texas Gospel Music Hall of Fame.  Guy's latest offering is HYMNS (2012, Servant Records).  Guy says: "I believe in a biblical way of living."  Of the hymns, he says: "The melodies tend to be memorable and singable...Hymns are thorough theologically...Hymns are an important part of our history as believers."  He adds: "I don't sing 'em because they're old.  I sing 'em because they're good."

The album begins with 'Leaning on the Everlasting Arms' which was written by Elisha A. Hoffman and Anthony J. Showalter and published in 1887.  Showalter had received letters from two of his former pupils whose wives had died.  He was inspired by Deuteronomy 33:27: "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms" when he wrote them back.  The song has Paul Franklin on steel guitar and has an old country feel to it.  It begins with these encouraging words: "What a fellowship, what a joy divine/Leaning on the everlasting arms;/What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,/Leaning on the everlasting arms/Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms."  'Count Your Blessings' was written by Johnson Oatman Jr. and Edwin O. Excell.  Background vocals are wonderfully performed by Russell Terrell and Tanya Hancheroff, as they are on several of the tracks.  The song has a soothing sound.  It asks a couple of questions and offers answers: "Are you ever burdened with a load of care?/Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?/Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,/And you will keep singing as the days go by."  'The Old Rugged Cross' was written in 1912 by evangelist and song leader George Bennard.  It has been covered by the likes of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and June Carter, and Kevin Max.  Here, we find a laid back version with Gary Prim on keyboards.  The song contains these lyrics that get to the heart of the Gospel message: "In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine/A wondrous beauty I see/For 'twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died/To pardon and sanctify me."

'Down at the Cross' by Elisha A. Hoffman and John H. Stockton picks up the pace musically and is joyful.  Paul Franklin plays dobro on this song that continues with the Gospel message: "Down at the cross where my Savior died/Down where from cleansing from sin I cried/There to my heart was the blood applied;/Glory to His Name!"  'He Hideth my Soul' was written by Fanny J. Crosby and William J. Kirkpatrick.  Crosby lived from 1820 to 1915.  She was blind from six weeks old due to a surgical mishap, and she became a teacher at a blind school.  She wrote over 8000 hymns and 1000 secular poems!  This particular song includes these words of confidence: "A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,/He taketh my burden away;/He holdeth me up, and I shall not be moved,/He giveth me strength as my day."  'We'll Understand it Better By and By' has Biff Watson on acoustic guitar and Brent Mason on electric guitar.  The song was written by Charles A. Tindley, an American Methodist minister.  The lyrics admit that God's ways are not always our ways: "Trials dark on every hand,/And that we cannot understand/All the ways that God would lead us/To that blessed promised land;/But He guides us with His eye,/And we'll follow till we die,/For we'll understand it better by and by."

Next up is 'Rock of Ages/I Stand Amazed' with Guy and Debbie Winans-Lowe on background vocals and Aubrey Haynie on fiddle.  The song delights in the Lord: "O how marvelous!/O how wonderful!/And my song shall ever be:/O how marvelous!/O how wonderful!/Is my Savior's love for me."  'What a Friend we have in Jesus' finds Eddie Bayers on drums and Gary Lunn on bass.  The song was originally penned as a poem in 1855 by Joseph M. Scriven to comfort his mom who was living in Ireland while he was in Canada.  The tune was composed by Charles Converse in 1868.  Hear these words of wisdom: "O what peace we often forfeit,/O what needless pain we bear,/All because we do not carry/Everything to God in prayer."  An excellent cover of 'The Solid Rock' follows.  Edward Mote and William B. Bradbury are the writers.  Mote pastored at Rehoboth Baptist Church in Horsham, West Sussex for 26 years.  This song is based on Jesus' parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders in Matthew 7:24-7.  The song includes these words of bold declaration: "On Christ the solid Rock, I stand/All other ground is sinking sand (2X)." 

John Newton first used 'Amazing Grace' to illustrate his New Year's sermon on January 1, 1773.  It was a sermon looking at a Christian's past, present, and future.  John P. Rees added the last verse, which appeared in Harriet Beecher Stowe's 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'.  It offers eternal hope to believers: "When we've been there ten thousand years/Bright shining as the sun/We've no less days to sing God's praise/Than when we've first begun."  'Does Jesus Care?' is a special duet with longtime Billy Graham crusade soloist George Beverly Shea.  He was born a preacher's kid in Winchester, Ontario on Feb 1, 1909, making him 103!  Of Bev, Guy says: "I was the kid that ordered George's records.  Watching him perform on Billy Graham crusades, his rich and confident-yet kind and gentle-baritone really impacted my musical journey as a young kid."  Guy points out that this song comforted him when his folks died and when he left the Gaither Vocal Band to go solo.  Take in these words: "Does Jesus care when I've said 'goodbye'/To the dearest on earth to me;/And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks,/Is it aught to Him?/Does He care?/Oh yes, He cares, I know He cares/His heart is touched with my grief;/When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,/I know my Savior cares."

'Nothing but the Blood' was written by Robert Lowry, an American professor of literature and a Baptist minister.  He also wrote 'Low in the Grave He Lay' and 'Shall we Gather at the River?'  He did, however, want to be known more for his preaching.  Listen to these words of praise he wrote: "Oh! precious is the flow/That makes me white as snow;/No other fount I know/Nothing but the blood of Jesus/This is all my hope and peace,/Nothing but the blood of Jesus;/This is all my righteousness,/Nothing but the blood of Jesus."  'Softly and Tenderly' written by Will L. Thompson (1847-1909) ends the album off on a quiet note.  It was performed by Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin in the film 'A Prairie Home Companion.'  It is a song of invitation to the lost: "Come home, come home/You who are weary, come home;/Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling/Calling, O sinner, come home!"

Guy Penrod has been married to wife Angie for 27 years.  They have seven boys and one girl.  They are homeschooled in Tennessee.  Guy shares: "We all have to come to a place of brokenness to come to God.  But the beautiful part is the putting back together-the restoration and the healing-culminating with His peace and His joy, which is our strength."  Guy also adds: "I want to point people in an attractive way, with arms wide open, not finger pointing, to the goodness of God.  Hymns do that."  HYMNS was produced by Guy Penrod and Pete Greene.  It should please fans of the hymns, old country music, and Clay Crosse's EVERYTIME I FEEL THE SPIRIT: AN AMERICANA COLLECTION OF HYMNS AND SUCH.  I'm rating HYMNS 89%.  For more info visit www.GuyPenrod.com.